Monday, August 08, 2005

Jumpsuits are for Jumping

It is a truth universally acknowledged that stupid questions elicit stupid answers, especially when a video camera is involved.

Boothey: "So Suzanne, it looks like you've got something on there."
Suz: "Yeah, a jumpsuit."
Boothey: "So what are you going to do?"
Suz: "Uh, jump out of a plane."

So begins the captivating 8-minute video that chronicles my most recent adventure--skydiving.

On Saturday morning I piled into Christina's convertible with 4 other girls and we were off to Wisconsin to go skydiving for Rachel's bachelorette party...only Rachel didn't know that yet. Most of her friends had heard her mention at least once that she'd love to go skydiving some day, so jumping out of a plane with the craziest of those friends seemed a fitting activity before she takes the plunge into matrimony next month. About 10 minutes before we got to the hangar we did a Chinese fire drill and made Rachel drive the rest of the way, telling her where to turn but still not revealing where we were going. Needless to say, she was very surprised and very excited.

After signing our waivers, we ended up sitting around the hangar for quite a while before we received a brief orientation and began to get suited up with our jumpsuits and harnesses...then we sat around some more. Finally it was our turn.

I met my tandem jumper, Bear, and climbed into the plane with the rest of the jumpers, tandems, and videographers on our flight--we squeezed in like sardines, and I tried to ignore the fact that I hard heard capacity was 10 and there were 11 people on board. I can honestly say that I was never really scared, but Bear was less communicative than the other instructors and so I didn't receive any reassurances either.

What I was about to do sunk in as the ground got further and further away and the hand on my altimeter spun higher and higher. I looked out the window and could see Milwaukee, gaze over the blue expanse of Lake Michigan, and just make out the Chicago skyline through the haze. At 14,000 feet it was time to jump. They opened the hatch and Trina's videographer climbed out and held on to the side of the plane while she moved into position. With a Ready, Set, Go she was gone with a large WHOOSH.

I didn't have time to think as Bear shoved me toward the door from behind. I bent down and crossed my arms across my chest as instructed. Cold wind stung my cheeks. I suppose someone counted down "Ready, Set, Go!" for me too, but I was completely oblivious, consumed by the realization that I too was about to be sucked out into the sky. With a push from Bear we were out the door and I was throwing back my arms and thrusting my pelvis forward and staring at the ground that was VERY far away. It took me a second to remember to look up at Boothey and smile for the camera. In retrospect I wish I would have done something more creative than wave, but plummeting toward the earth at approximately 180 feet per second, my creative thinking was a little stunted.

At 5,000 feet I pulled the rip cord and our rapid decent was slowed to a leisurely float. The roaring stopped and the silence was almost eerie. I would have enjoyed this segment very much had my harness not been secured much too tightly around my legs, restricting my movement, cutting off circulation, and causing immense pain. I tried to push past the real-time bruising as much as I could and enjoy the ride. I remember looking down at the cars on the highway, marveling at the number of backyard swimming pools, and trying to pick out the hanger on the landscape. I realized later that I didn't even notice the other people who had just jumped out of the plane with me and must have been floating not too far away.

My landing was anything but graceful (I pretty much hit the ground and collapsed, much to the disgruntlement of Bear behind me). My post-jump interview proved to be even less profound than my earlier exchange with Boothey. Overall, I was ecstatic about what I had just done but completely exhausted from the adrenaline rush and the tensing of what felt like every muscle in my body.

We regrouped in the hanger, reliving and comparing our experiences. We hung around just long enough to receive our certificates and our DVDs and then we were on the road again. As it was we were 2 hours late for Rachel's bridal shower, but we had a pretty good excuse.

So, yeah, skydiving. I highly recommend it!


hmb said...

i am so impressed!

you are a better woman than i!

Drewser said...

Way cool indeed! Let me know if you ever want to go again...I'd do it again in a heartbeat!