A Leap of Faith

So I’ve been writing my Sunday blog for exactly a year now and I’ve learned something: I made a mistake when I started. And what might that be? Well, for some reason I thought I needed to post 5 blogs all at once to kick off Now Don’t Get Me Wrong. But I was wrong.

Turns out literally 10 people saw the 4 blogs following my first post. I presumed folks would be so enthralled with my writing, they’d read beyond the first one. Again, wrong. If you weren’t one of the devoted 10, I forgive you. Now here’s your chance to redeem yourself… 

While my three friends and I huddled on the cold steel floor of the single engine Cessna, I struggled to remember what possessed me to want to hurl myself from an airborne metal tube. Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not crazy. At least I think I’m not. But still, I seriously questioned my sanity while checking my parachute pack for the tenth time. My curiosity was not based on its technical construction but simply to confirm that it was still on my back.

Hoping my chute is packed correctly.

During our ascent, our pilot, Katherine, never looked back at us. She seemed rather calm and unaffected by my friends and my imminent death. She even had a smile on her face. In contrast, co-pilot, Alan, somberly stared at the four of us during the 15 minutes it took to reach a jumping altitude of 3500 feet. Squeezing my eyes shut, I whispered my new mantra, “I will live, I will live…”

Finally, the day-long instructional course on skydiving was about to pay off. All the practice jumps from platforms, the lectures and videos and the maneuvers from suspended parachute harnesses would soon be put into action. Suddenly, I couldn’t remember my name.Mark was the first to leap. But as he jumped backward, it sounded as though his pack hit the wing. We gasped in unison, then immediately turned toward Katherine, who continued to smile. I assumed this meant Mark was still alive. Her grin was our cue that we could resume breathing.

Next out was Rainee. The fear on her face crept into her vocal cords, prohibiting her from yelling, “JERONIMO!” as she leaped from the plane. In stunned silence, she tossed herself spreadeagled into the wind.jumping from planeThen, Alan motioned for Patty and me to scoot closer to the open door. Neglecting to tell him of her tendency toward airsickness, Patty crawled out onto the platform and promptly regurgitated her lunch. (Fascinating what 90-mile-an-hour winds do to a tuna sandwich.)

Now it was my turn. My heart pounded, my palms glistened with nervous perspiration, and still Katherine smiled. Alan leaned forward, putting his helmet against mine, searching my eyes for some semblance of lucidity. Apparently I fooled him because he lifted my headphones and screamed, “Step out!”

Shaking, I grasped the bar above the jumping platform. Alan pointed to the wing camera and shouted, “Head back and smile!” Was he insane?! I gripped the bar tighter. Before I had time to safely crawl back into the plane, he yelled, “Go!”

As I released my grip, I jolted backward, heard a snap, and felt a sharp tug as my parachute sprung open. My body lurched upward and then I was floating.

In awe, I surveyed the blanket of golden hills below me. While the wind whistled through my parachute, I drifted peacefully through the cloudless sky. Suddenly, my blissful state was interrupted by the voice of our jump instructor, Dave, who spoke into my headset, “Left one-half turn, right one turn.”

View from below

He led me through the control checks we had practiced for hours, the ones I thought were forever ingrained in my memory. The same ones I no longer recalled.

I nervously looked down at my destination (the approaching bull’s-eye painted on the dirt) and spotted my friends in various positions. As I struggled to keep from navigating toward a farmhouse roof, I saw that Mark had landed in a cow pasture. Rainee was climbing from a roadside ditch and Patty had belly-flopped onto a dusty road. Even from 500 feet above, I could see they were beaming.

approaching solid ground

As the ground closed in, I robotically obeyed Dave’s orders. Katherine and Alan were already there, waiting next to Dave. “Flair!” he commanded. so I held my breath and yanked down on the lines.

Twenty minutes after jumping, my death-defying feat was over. Best of all, I was still alive. Barely containing my pride, I stepped out from under a canopy of silk into rousing applause.

Even stoic Alan was smiling; to everyone’s surprise (including me), I was standing smack in the middle of the bull’s-eye.

A Leap of Faith

Nervous smiles before boarding the plane
Patty, Mark, Rainee and me

11 thoughts on “A Leap of Faith

  1. Janet, I had NO idea you have done this! You are brave….could not pay me to jump out of a plane. Can’t wait to see what you reveal next week! It’s a great way to start Sunday morning.

  2. Ahhh, such memories! Like Mark, my first time out I went head over heals backwards, got my helmet hung up in the shroud cords and couldn’t understand why everyone loved jumping because I couldn’t look around as my helmet was stuck. Eventually, it became free and then… the absolute beauty of noiselessly floating down. Of course, by this time I was hopelessly off course, ended up in a tree (we didn’t have headsets in our ears directing us- although I did have lots of voices in my head telling me all sorts of things…). But those few minutes of floating down was so great, that I did it a couple of more times, the last of which I also landed smack on the little X! I think the tandem stuff now-a-days is for wimps! Thanks for the memories. I hadn’t thought about skydiving in a long time!

  3. Nope- will never happen in a hundred years!!!! You are either brave or stupid. We are suppose to be on the ground. I like looking up at the birds. Can’t believe you did that. Glad you are alive and glad you enjoyed it to live another day!
    JT

    • More people die in cars than from jumping from planes! It’s actually very safe but that element of ‘who knows’ is what makes it so exhilarating!

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