|Katy & Joanne|
But back to our trip, Katy drove for about an hour and a half while I did a terrible job of navigating. Happily, we eventually found our tiny airport and were a little surprised to discover the grass runway, spraypainted directional signs and a pack of canine greeters.
My surprise was rooted in my past experiences. I'll admit right now that I have never been skydiving and I don't know anyone else who has. My expectations were totally formed by TV and movies and included harnessed soldiers packed into the belly of a big plane, instructors yelling "Go! Go! Go!" and dozens of circular parachutes drifting down over WWII France. It wasn't like the Army. Not even a little bit. My experience was very laid back, more like camp counselors at 10,000 feet.
While the airport and staff were exceptionally casual, the legal waiver was by far the most intimidating we had ever seen. Once it was signed and initialed in 24 places (really) AND once I'd paid an additional $85 for a video (more than worth it!) we were ready for harnesses and a few minutes of instruction. My instructor, Chris, was wearing shorts, T-shirt and a wrist cam but nothing below the knee. I suspect he enjoyed the feeling of wind between his toes. Finally, Joanne, two instructors and I squeezed into a little plane stripped of everything but a pilot and we were off. (Katy shared a plane with a kid celebrating his 21st birthday.) During our two-mile ascent, Chris, rechecked the gear, hooked our harnesses together and reviewed the dive procedure:
- pay attention,
- when leaving the plane, grip the front of the harness and ARCH YOUR BACK,
- let your feet go back toward your posterior,
- maintain this position until you feel 3 taps on your shoulder then arms out and enjoy 5,000 feet of free fall at 120 mph.
I've posted my video below so you can get a sense of the experience. If you're into heights and speed, this adventure is a winner! Thanks, Kesha, for being our on-the-ground photographer.