So I know that the phrase YOLO is totally overused and now it’s basically cliche to say it, but I found myself saying it a lot in the past 24 hours. This is because my dad and I became a part of the skydive club, we did it. Today at Mifflin County Airport, my dad and I did tandem jumps at Skydive Happy Valley. It was amazing. I figured this was the perfect time to blog again considering the circumstances, especially since I lived to tell the tale and all.
Going into today I was really, genuinely excited. It’s funny, really, to hear all of the mixed reactions when you talk about making the decision to skydive. This was my 21st birthday present….two years late, but it was well worth the wait. My thought we were crazy, and I’m sure was worried (because I know my mom)! Most friends were excited and some were even wishing that they could be a part of it. I kept telling myself that at least if something goes wrong and I die, that it will be the coolest way ever to go. I also knew in my head that Pitt and Penn State would be sad to see all the loan money never be paid back, lol. But in all honesty, it was something that I always wanted to do, not as a death wish or anything like that, but as a thrill, something to say that I did and love it.
So today started like any other day, woke up at 9am (which I know is a blessing considering next week I will be up at 6am!). Got my shower, put on some clothes, decided to go with some capris and my Drake shirt though I had considered reppin Pitt. Ate my morning Blueberry Muffin Squares and talked to Dad. We decided to leave a little early and hit some stores before the big jump. After hitting up Wegmans, Target, Ross, and the Mall, we picked up Marco (my friend and our photographer) and headed on down to Reedsville. After a small fumble of the GPS we were on our way to the Mifflin County Airport to Skydive Happy Valley.
If anything is going to stop you from skydiving, it may be the first video that they show you, lol. This is the video that explains that you could be seriously injured or even die from skydiving. But it’s not like I didn’t know that going into it, you know? Even better, the guy on the video had a beard the size of Texas which made me giggle. As I sat down filling out the paperwork and making my necessary initials and signatures so my heirs couldn’t sue, I thought to myself how real it was really becoming. For the past two years, I’ve thought about this day, after all, it is a big day.
After the papers were signed and all the scary stuff was over, it was time to learn what to do! We go out to the airfield to see a small plane, smaller than I had thought, but awesome nonetheless. I learned at this point in time that I would be the first jumper followed by my dad. We climbed into the plane how we would be sitting, and we were shown how we would buckle and unbuckle to get ready to jump. We were taught to arch as much as we could when we jumped and when to hold on, how to land, etc. I think the hardest part to imagine me doing was crawling from sitting on my butt to my knees and then putting my feet out the plane first. Right foot first, then the left, and be sure not to go to the left because you will hurt your leg. We got out of the plane and landing was explained to us as well, landing on whatcha momma gave ya.
Even though this tutorial seemed short, it was time to go! We went back inside and got fitted with our harnesses. We were able to just keep our normal clothes on. I was even able to keep my glasses on since my goggles were tight! We climbed into the plane and the pilot started the engine. It was again explained to me the process of events, the altitude we needed to reach was 10,000ft. We would be falling at terminal velocity, around 180mph, whoa. Arch back, hold on, hands out, hold on, land. The plane went down the runway and the door was closed, no turning back now.
It took about twenty minutes to get to the right altitude, at which time I was tense. I was a little nervous, but not overly scared. I was breathing deeply and thinking about what was about to happen. I held onto my pant legs and could feel my knees tense but I was good, I was ready. The items on the ground continued to appear smaller, people were mere specks and buildings looked like small checkerboard squares. As we continued to climb, the instructor pointed out a stone quarry and some other neat places. He asked what the occasion for the jump was, which I informed him it was for my 21st birthday…just two years late. He chuckled and said that at least now it happened and it was good that I was at Penn State.
When we reached 8,000ft we started preparing, I took off my seatbelt and went from my sitting position to being on my knees. He hooked up to me and we tightened the straps. We were in this position for about 5 minutes when he said he was about to open the door. I put my googles on, and the door was opened. Air rushed in and this was the time I knew it was real. No turning back now, I had to do it, and I was excited. I was instructed to put my right foot on the step, then my left foot. I could see nothing but small squares and specs, but it was awesome. On the count of three we jumped. Immediately I arched as instructed and we were falling, fast. Before I knew it, I could put my hands out and then had to put them back in for the parachute. Our parachute went and all the sudden we slowed down immensely.
The best way to describe the feeling with a parachute is that you are merely floating in mid air. It does not feel like you are falling at all, even though you are still falling at a high rate of speed. At this time, I was able to steer the parachute, to the left and to the right, the instructor asked if I wanted to do a spin. Heck yes I wanted to do a spin. After a short while it was time for him to take over and to float a little longer. He pointed out State College as we fell, asked me how I felt, which was awesome, and we continued to float. I started to see the airport soon, a lot of houses in a row (little boxes on the hillside) and some tennis courts. I remember getting closer to buildings and thinking that we better move away from those, haha. I also realized that my dad had landed safely before me which was a relief. We did of course make it past those buildings and soon enough it was time to land. I pulled my knees up and we slid across the ground, grass flying everywhere (including a blade or two in my mouth). I was safe on the ground.
The feeling while you are in the air is really indescribable. Your mind is so clear, yet so focused on what you are doing in the present moment. It is true mindfulness. Nothing else matters while you are there, floating, just what you are doing right then and there. So peaceful. Something that is hard to get on the ground sometimes and even harder to get when you allow yourself to become stressed. I loved it. I would do it again, dad is already talking about it. It’s something that is hard to describe, but once you do it, you don’t regret it.
Talk about adrenaline. I felt amazing after landing, I think I’m going to be happy for days, seriously, not like I haven’t been happy already, but even more so! At one time on the flight, I remember thinking to myself, “why did you make dad do this with you?” I was unsure about it, but he loved it as well. I’m so glad that we got to share this experience and now have a conversation piece for years to come.
Thinking about skydiving? Do it. Just do it. Nike doesn’t lie when they are talking about this slogan. After jumping out of a plane, my perspective was mad even more clearer to not sweat small things, I took a huge risk, but it was awesome. Things on the ground don’t seem so crazy anymore. 🙂