When you picture a plane landing, what do you envision? An airport? Cargo vans? Someone waving landing flags perhaps? You probably don’t picture llamas, do you? Well guess what was walking on my landing strip the day I went skydiving? It seems the great Texas Skydiving Center is actually someone’s farm and they do skydiving as a side gig.
The entire experience was truly bizarre from start to finish. We got our “deal” through Living Social and it included the skydive plus video. But when Henri called to schedule they said they couldn’t give both of us videos unless we wanted to come in the middle of the week. Henri had already gone skydiving before so he just scheduled me to get the video so we could do it on my birthday. Minor bummer, but easier to get a babysitter on a Saturday versus midweek. They also charged each of us a $12 fuel fee. Hmm…
Our dive was scheduled for 2:30 and we got there early, around 1:45. Henri hadn’t eaten so he bought a sandwich and we sat down at the picnic table where we were molested by barnyard animals. Think I’m kidding?
I named him Wilbur. He is my new BFF. But still, this was exciting! We’re going skydiving in less than 30 minutes! Yay! Look how happy we are!
Even our farm friends are happy for us! Wilbur’s piglet is happy to eat Henri’s leftovers. And I’m kissing up to the chickens. “Hey, girl, you got some egg whites for me?”
The man we are going to snap our harness to comes out to talk to us. “Basically, you are going to hold on to the harness and then roll out of the plane. Then you let go of the harness and open your arms. That’s pretty much it. I pull the parachute.”
“Well that’s good. I don’t really feel qualified to do that part. So…that’s it? Roll out of the plane and open your arms?”
“The physics of it are pretty easy. It’s getting past the mental part realizing you are jumping out of a perfectly good plane that’s the hard part. There’s about four people ahead of you and the plane is running slow, so the pilot is going to get the good plane. He’ll be back in about 40 minutes.”
The good plane???
4 1/2 hours later…
The good plane shows up but so do other people and even though we’ve been here since before two and the sun is now setting, they put the other group ahead of us because they weigh more and need more fuel in the plane to carry the load. And to think I spent the last year of my life trying to lose weight…
But finally, the man is back and puts the harnesses on us!
Henri talked the skydive people into sending up an extra person to take photos of the jump to make up for bumping us. That was pretty cool. I meet my skydive partner. He’s been doing this for three years (yes, I checked his resume) and seemed pretty laid back. The plane was tiny and we all crammed in. All the guys were joking.
“So you watched the video on how to do this once or twice right?” Henri asked. “Yeah, I watched it yesterday, but I fell asleep during the landing part, ’cause it’s not that important right?” They are all laughing and I’m squeezing all the blood out of Henri’s hand as we fly higher and higher into the air.
“We’re pretty high up, aren’t we?” I say to no one in particular. “Nah, we have another 3,000 feet to go,” says Henri. And I begin to think, “Why am I doing this?” The air gets colder now.
“It’s really crammed in here,” says my jump partner. “Well you can always go out the door,” says the pilot. I’m so happy I called my mother in car before we got here, because I’m going to die. The door opens and cold wind whips against my face. “I love you, Henri,” I say and face into the wind.
Don’t look down. Don’t look down.
Oh S*** I LOOKED DOWN! Henri, why did you let me do this!?! You’re supposed to be the older and wiser one! What – did you just buy life insurance on me or something????
My jump partner scoots me over the side of the plane. I start screaming, “Oh my God! Oh my God!” and grip onto the harness, like that will help me fight against gravity or something.
But then he tugs on my hands to let go of the harness and spreading my arms I am flying as the sun descends through the clouds.
Suddenly I’m not afraid anymore, I’m just thrilled and feel very much alive. The world is beautiful beneath me and I can’t stop smiling. He pulls the parachute and we snap back, slowly gliding through the air. I see Henri in the distance and we wave and call out to each other. “That was amazing!” I shout.
The earth grows closer. The farm lands come into focus. My body is coated in endorphins from the adrenaline rush. “Did you like it?” asked the instructor. “It was fantastic,” I say in awe. “Now, please don’t let me hit a llama on the landing.”
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