Welcome to the second installment of my skydiving story! To recap, I just took the open book exam to do the static line jump and now the instructor marched me, and two other women, Cindy and Martha, off to the airplane to practice exiting the aircraft. He taught us three moves: 1) in the door; 2) on the step; and 3) jump!
I failed the second move. My brain understood the concept but my body wouldn’t cooperate. I had to pull myself up with my legs, not my arms, from a sitting position. When I couldn’t get up three times in a row, the instructor just patted me on the back and said, “Don’t worry, when the times comes, you’ll get it. They’ll be so much adrenaline pumping in you it will be a piece of cake.”
We broke for lunch but I was so nervous, scared and disappointed at the same time because I failed the second move that I didn’t eat anything. I brooded as I watched the tandem jumpers get ready for their jumps. Martha must have been thinking what I was thinking because she said to Cindy, “Why didn’t we do tandem jumps? It seems so much easier and it only takes 20 minutes of instruction instead of the whole day?” I think she was getting scared though I don’t know why, since both she and Cindy performed the moves perfectly.
Cindy replied, “Come on Martha! Tandem jumping is for wussies! Besides think of the bragging rights at the bar!” Martha conceded.
I conceded too. I had already invested half the day learning how to skydive and the instructor didn’t seem concerned. The receptionist was wrong. I had moxy! When the instructor took us back to an open field for more practical instruction, I smiled.
After the instructor taught us the finer points of parachute navigation and landing, we marched back to the hangar to get ready for the jump. They didn’t have a jumpsuit in my size so I shrugged the sixty pound parachute on my back and snapped on my helmet while the instructor strapped on a red radio. I was ready to jump!
The jumpmaster, Cindy, Martha and I carefully climbed into the aircraft based on the order of our jump. Cindy volunteered to go first, then Martha, then me. As the pilot taxied to the runway, we tried to keep as still as possible despite the bumpy ride to avoid our parachutes from accidentally opening, certain death to everyone on the plane.
The small aircraft lurched to 3500 feet. Following the jumpmaster’s instructions then the voice on her radio, Cindy performed a textbook static line jump. We could see her perfect landing through the airplane window.
After a few maneuvers, the plane reached jumping altitude again for Martha’s turn. She performed the moves perfectly until she actually stepped out of the airplane, then she slipped off the step. My heart stopped. By some miracle, her parachute didn’t open until she cleared the plane and then she performed a perfect landing. Whew!
The plane turned around and flew to jump altitude again. Now it was my turn. The jumpmaster said, “In the door!” I struggled to reach the door as sixty mile per hour winds came rushing through the airplane.
Then the jumpmaster said, “On the step!” Now I was really nervous because of what happened to Martha. I did have all that adrenaline pumping inside me which helped as I grabbed the bar to get up on to the step.
Okay, I’ll stop right here. Until next time!