The Bucket List #5: Skydiving in VA
I’m a risk-taker, although you wouldn’t know it unless you really get to know me. Most people view me as a quiet, shy girl; although in recent years I’ve come out of my shell, and am more comfortable talking to other people. But as a risk-taker, adventure seeker, adrenaline-junkie, whatever you want to call it, I have a few things on my bucket list that could be considered…dangerous? Enter skydiving in VA.
Skydiving. I’ve wanted to go skydiving since I was about ten years old. But the time for skydiving never seemed right. Aka, I never had enough money to do it, or anyone who would go with me. But, finally, about a year and a half after graduating from college, one of my best friends and I bought two skydiving passes from DC Skydiving Center for about half price on Groupon. We knew skydiving in VA, with the beautiful countryside, would be absolutely breathtaking. We were so excited!
In the weeks leading up to actually skydiving, my mother almost had several panic attacks. And she resorted to bribery to persuade me not to go. I think at one point mom told me she would give me $500 if I agreed not to skydive. Unfortunately for my Mom, my mind was made up. My Mom and her boyfriend (now husband) decided to watch my friend and I dive because they wanted to be there in case I died (yes, this is really what they said to me).
Before the Jump
The drive out to Warrington, VA was very pretty, but my friend and I were kind of nervous. So the car was filled with periods of silence, punctured by light conversation and the words, “are we really going to do this?” When we arrived at the Skydiving location, there was a video of an old man with the world’s longest beard playing, warning us of all the dangers of skydiving. Then there were the hundred or so forms we have to read and fill out.
“Don’t read any of them,” my friend said as she flipped quickly through her stack of paperwork. “If you read them you won’t go.” Heeding her advice, I signed where I was supposed to, not reading any of the warnings. This is a wonderful tactic when signing any piece of paperwork…not really.
It was at this point that I started to feel sick. Skydiving seems so adventurous and wild when you’re thinking about it, but when it actually comes down to it, it is downright terrifying. My stomach was literally in knots, to the point where I could feel them actually forming. I spent about twenty minutes in the bathroom effectively emptying out my stomach. Then I was being fitted in gear, given a five-minute course on how to skydive (yea, five minutes, you would think jumping out of an airplane would require more training. I was going to be strapped to someone’s stomach, but still) and then off to take some pre-dive pictures.
My instructor’s name was Kurt, and he was really cool. I was, at this point, a nervous wreck and didn’t even attempt to make conversation with the man who was going to be holding my life in his hands. And before I knew it, I was hugging my crying Mother goodbye, and boarding a tiny plane that I would soon be jumping out of.
Skydiving in VA…
There is no door on the plane, so you get an unobstructed view of the ground disappearing as you climb higher and higher. At that moment I was questioning my sanity. Seriously, what sane person jumps out of an airplane? My heart was beating so fast it felt like it would explode. And then, all of a sudden, just like that, it was time to jump.
My friend was the first off the plane and I was the second to last. From the time the pilot said it was time to jump, to me actually jumping, was probably about 30 seconds, and there were six pairs of jumpers on the plane. I think they do it so no one chickens out. You don’t have time to think before you’re about to fall into space.
At this point, I’m thinking that I’m going to die. When you skydive, you sit right on the edge of the open side of the plane, and every ounce of your self-preservation and common sense are screaming at you to hold on for your life. But then the guy you’re strapped to tells you to push off, and truthfully, I don’t think I moved a muscle, but he pushed off and we were flipping through the air.
It is impossible to describe what it feels like to free fall, with absolutely nothing holding you back. Imagine the scariest roller coaster you’ve ever been on, the worst free-fall drop ride, and multiple it by 1,000 and maybe you’ll understand how it feels. You can’t breathe, and your sense of sound is muffled. There is only wind pounding your face, and you feel weightless. You also feel like you’re going to die.
It felt amazing. Seriously, I think I was only free-falling for thirty seconds, but it was incredible. Every nerve of your body is singing, and you feel alive in only that way you can feel when you might die.
…and Getting Sick.
And then, too soon, I felt a tug, and the parachute had opened up behind us. We had ten minutes of slowly sailing back to earth. And I hated it. I felt sick immediately. I get motion sickness pretty easily on boats, and in planes and cars as well, but I literally felt like I was going to throw up. Kurt tried to twirl us and I immediately told him that if he did that again I would puke. He responded by saying that I should throw up in my shirt so his sight would be clear to land.
The next ten minutes were agony, I mean, the scenery was breathtaking, but I felt horrible. At least I have pictures to remember how beautiful the ride was. And then finally, finally, we are on the ground, and my Mom is hugging me, her relief palpable, and I quickly go find a bathroom to go empty the remains of my stomach.
I’m so happy I went skydiving in VA, but I know that I will never do it again. So, was skydiving worth it? Yes, absolutely. I have never before felt like I was going to die, and the feeling is very…intense…no surprise there. Sometimes it’s nice to get out of our comfort zone and try something daring and adventurous. So if you’re thinking about skydiving, go for it! It is a once in a lifetime experience!
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