"If God had wanted us to stay on the ground, he would have given us roots." That's my quote of the week. Yesterday I jumped out of an airplane at 14,000 ft and free fell at 120 miles per hour for 60 seconds. And it was AWESOME. Guess who's new favorite thing is skydiving?? I'm definitely doing that again.
About a week ago I had skydiving on my "I will never do this" list. You know, the one that also included jobs with lots of traveling, engineering school and doing anything fluids or thermodynamics related ever again? The one that also included never moving somewhere cold or eating food like shrimp and mushrooms. And here I am training for my fluids engineering job in Alaska. Yet another reminder that that list is really a list of everything I will do with my life. Even knowing all that, I was dead set against skydiving and this time I was really sure I would never do anything that crazy. 100% sure this time. Then in my typical impulsive and stubborn fashion, I changed my mind in about two seconds and that was that. Three of the Alaska guys and I signed our lives away at around 8 am and watched the quick orientation presentation and movie. Not much fuss at all. We had just a little time in between the safety stuff and getting suited up. We all got altimeters to wear on our wrists like giant altitude telling watches. I got a red jumpsuit (Halliburton colored!!) and was hooked into a harness. I met my instructor, as I was doing a tandem dive so I'd be securely stuck to someone the whole time. I also was talked into the photos and video so I met my video person. It all went really fast! We got loaded into a plane before I could really be nervous.That was one of the strangest parts for me. Almost no nerves. Not generally my typical experience but maybe that's just because it was too surreal to worry about. The plane was the smallest I've ever been in, I was only sitting on the floor a few feet from the door. And once we took off, they opened up the door. As in, I was flying in the sky with the wind rushing in, watching the clouds go by, and watching the ground get farther and farther away. The guys sitting by the door even stuck his feet out. The ride up seemed like it took forever. I started to get nervous just before we went to jump. I don't think I could have walked really. Luckily as we were sitting on the floor, so I didn't have to get up. I only had to sit at the door with my feet tucked under the plane and then we jumped out. And it was crazy! Really disorienting for a second or two before we got leveled out at our terminal velocity. We got a mini little chute at first to slow us down to the speed of a single person. Then its like a yoga pose. Cobra I do believe. you are supposed to arch backwards with your arms and legs lifted backwards. I'm pretty sure I didn't have great form, I can do better on that next time. I can't really describe how crazy it was to be up in the air like that. There wasn't any of the roller coaster feeling that you might expect. And the air was hitting you fast enough that it didn't really like you were falling. And the view was really cool. There were lots of clouds but it was still nice out. Then after the minute was up, I got to pull the cord to deploy the parachute. That also wasn't as jarring of a feeling as you might think. From that point it was a pretty peaceful float down. We made a few spirals going down, you just pulled down on the handle of whichever side you were turning towards. I was also surprised at how the ground didn't rush up at me like everyone said it would. When we landed it was pretty simple and again, a whole lot gentler than I expected. I just lifted my legs up and we slid in. I feel pretty hardcore right now. And now we can go back to work and be like, "Remember that time we jumped out of a plane together?" A great group bonding experience. You get a little more respect when someone knows you have enough guts to try something crazy. Really it isn't an experience I can adequately describe, it is a one of a kind experience and you should probably just try it. Because what can you be afraid of doing after you jump out of a plane?