I was recently contacted by an old friend on FaceBook. While we were catching up I told him I was about to skydive for the first time. He was very excited because he has been wanting to do it for many years. As we traded messages back and forth I was even more encouraged to dive.
My phone and email have been blowing up with my friends asking me how the dive went. Instead of telling the same story repeatedly I decided to post my letter to Mike. His first jump will be July 11, so he wanted all the details.
"I don't want to influence your experience by giving you too many details. It will be different for everyone. As you know, I fear many things so it was a very big deal for me. I had little sleep the night before and the drive was nerve racking. I went to Skydive Dallas. It is located 1hr north of McKinney. From the first phone call I made to them I could tell they were an organized operation. I highly recommend them to anyone considering doing this.
Upon arrival I checked in and signed many pages of legal documents. They all basically said they would not be held liable if something happened. There were six other first time divers checking in.
We went into a small room and watched a short video showing us how to arch and various ways of landing depending upon the instructor and wind. Then we went to the hanger. Our names were placed on a dry erase board and we were assigned a dive number along with an instructor and photographer. About 30mins prior to take off we put on jumpsuits and our individual instructors gave us instructions and fitted us with the equipment. The photographer interviewed us on camera and took pictures. It was a hot day and the suit was heavy with the equipment. I am only 5'2" and 120lbs so perhaps it was a challenge due to my size. FYI- Skydive Dallas will not let anyone dive over 210lbs.
We waited for another twenty minutes before we boarded the plane. While we waited we got to see other people coming down solo and tandem. It was way cool!
The photographer interviewed me again while on the plane. The instructor gave additional safety tips while the plane was rising to 13,500 ft. At some point the instructor strapped himself to me. My shoulders are a little narrow so the straps were not tight. It was not a big deal because the instructor was attached but it tugged and bruised just a little.
The photographer went out first and held onto the plane like something out of a spy movie. I was the first one to jump! I could hear most of what my instructor was saying but the wind was loud at first.
Once the chute opened it was quieter and it felt like we were flying. Everything was very clear and bright. He let me steer the chute a bit and taught me how to do a couple of tricks.
The landing was perfect! The photographer was already on the ground so he came up to interview me again and take more pics. The instructor took me into a back room to discuss the flight, give me a certificate, sign my flight log and asked me to fill out a survey about him and sign his flight log. He and the whole staff were terrific! They did a great job of calming my fears.
After the jump I was in a dazed state. I couldn't believe I did it. It made me feel completely invincible. Now I know I can and will do anything!!!
I would do it over and over again but it is expensive! I would love to be an instructor but with my small stature I think it is impossible. All the instructors seemed to be taller and stronger than the jumpers they were assigned to.
I hear sunset jumps are the most beautiful. I loved the one I did, however. I arrived at 9am but didn't jump until 12pm. I don't know if you remember but I have brown eyes with just a hint of green. My friends told me my eyes were bright green when I landed. I don't know if it was the lack of oxygen or the excitement. Also, there is a skydiver's hand shake- side ways open handed soft slap then bumping fists with your thumb up.
The video is really cool. It is surreal for me to watch it and my family loves it!
I hope I didn't give too much away. It will be different for you. This was one of my biggest fears so it probably affected me on other levels. You sound like a pro already! I cannot wait to hear about your experience.
Afterward, I had a celebratory beer at a nearby restaurant with friends and family. It was a lot of fun! The moment that sticks with me is when my 14 year old daughter Loren looked at me and said, "Mom, I am very proud of you." Now that is something worth taking a risk for."