One time I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane at 13,000 feet because I thought it would be a fun thing to do.
And guess what? It was!
According to bucketlist.org, skydiving is one of the most popular items on site users’ bucket lists. It was certainly on mine. My middle school bestie Kayla and I had dreamed of going skydiving together since the eighth grade – we were enchanted by the thrilling thought of all the danger and wildness associated with such a ridiculous concept. And we were all in.
So on my 20th birthday I decided I’d had enough of dreaming. I was ready to do it! What better way to kick off my 20s than with a daredevil stunt like hurtling towards earth in a free-fall? 🙂
But skydiving can be expensive, and neither of us were willing to dish out $300 apiece for our possible deaths. So we did what any budget-conscious millennial would do: we turned to Groupon.
If you are looking for a wallet-friendly way to jump from a plane, I HIGHLY recommend using Groupon. They always have deals on these kinds of things, and if you’re lucky you’ll find a skydiving school in your area offering discounts on a jump. Thankfully, DC Skydiving Center had a deal on Groupon for 50% off, and we were able to snag super cheap spots to skydive. We were so excited!
On the day of the big jump, we drove all the way out to Warrenton, VA (we were living in Northern Virginia at the time) to meet the grim reaper. We were so nervous, but also incredibly pumped! The thought of what could go wrong was terrifying, but of course everything was going to go according to plan.
Or would it? 😉
When we got to DC Skydiving Center, we checked in and were given pretty intense harnesses to wear. A few of the employees strapped us in very tightly, but of course it would never feel tight enough for two girls who felt like we might meet our end pretty soon. Next we were asked to sign like 15 waivers, which I signed without reading because I didn’t want to think about it too much.
Afterwards, we looked across the field in front of us and saw the plane we’d be heading out in – it was TINY.
That’s only the butt of the plane, but hopefully it gives you an idea of what we were working with. Um, excuse me? That thing is going to take us up 13,000 feet? Are we all SURE about this?!
Then I met my instructor, Yuriy, and he made everything better. Yuriy was so energetic and kind, and he explained every step of the process to me in clear detail so I’d know what to expect. Plus, he was hilarious! As we boarded the plane with a bunch of other divers and took off, Yuriy kept making jokes intended to ease my nerves but also mess with them. Some of the best Yuriy lines:
“I feel like I’m forgetting something, but I have no idea what…”
“Just so you know, I have narcolepsy. I forgot to take my meds this morning but I’m sure it’ll be fine.”
“Don’t worry, no one has ever complained of a parachute not opening.”
He was so funny! His jokes made me laugh and put me at ease – if a professional skydiver could talk about skydiving with such lightheartedness, then I he probably wasn’t that concerned about something going wrong, and I had nothing to worry about.
Yuriy and I were strapped together as tandem divers, and he informed me that we’d be jumping before everyone else on the plane. Eek! I stared out the window and watched the ground get farther and farther away until all of a sudden Yuriy yanked the door open – it was time!
I could see nothing between me and the ground but tons and tons of air. Everything was spread out before me and it was breathtaking in the most beautiful and frightening way. My instructor told me to dangle my legs out of the plane and curl them under the bottom. He said we were going to just lean forward and fall out of the plane. My heart started pounding. What was I doing? Why was I here? Am I sure about th-
And then we were falling!
Whenever people ask me about my skydiving experience, I talk about that moment right there. The first few seconds when you fall out of the plane are the most terrifying moments of your entire life. All of a sudden there’s no going back – if you are going to die on this jump it’s already happening.
But after those three seconds, you realize, “Hey, if I’m going to die, I may as well enjoy it!” Everything becomes so much fun after that!
It was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. I felt like I could see the whole world from up there.
The free-fall portion of the dive lasts around a minute or two, but it feels like much longer.
Then my parachute deployed. Yuriy allowed me to steer the parachute using two rope-type things for a little while, and I had a ball making us go in circles!
Of course he held on as well, just in case I decided to do anything a little too wild. 😉
As we approached the ground, Yuriy took over steering us completely and I did my best to soak it all in. There I was! Skydiving! I knew it wouldn’t last much longer and I wanted to take in every single second of it. I admired the view and felt myself descending, not wanting it to end.
Before I knew it we were on the ground. I was a glad to be back to safety, but also sad it was over.
Since Kayla had jumped right after me, I got to watch her descend.
Her story is even cooler than mine, albeit far more frightening! At the moment when her parachute was supposed to deploy, her tandem instructor started cussing loudly. When Kayla asked what was wrong he refused to reply. Eventually their emergency parachute came out, but apparently their first parachute had been packed incorrectly and was unable to unfurl. Luckily she was totally safe and sound aside from a slightly rougher landing! Scary, but also kinda a cool story she gets to tell now!
All in all, I had an amazing skydiving experience! I highly recommend it to anyone considering it. Grab that Groupon and go! For those in the DC area, I give major props to DC Skydiving Center for their amazing services and instructors.
Have you ever been skydiving? If so, what did you think? If not, would you ever do it?
All photos courtesy of Yuriy, who brought along a handy little GoPro! He also took a video but there’s a lot of shots of me just drooling and I think I’m going to keep it to myself. 😉