So I did it! I made my first skydive. It was a tandem with Tod from Canton Air Sports in Ohio. I also got an unexpected 2 for 1 deal when the main chute was too twisted to fly. Tod decided it was best to cut away and go to the reserve. That gave me an extra 2 seconds of free fall! The reserve opened and we glided in for a smooth landing.
And yes, even with a malfunction on my first jump I’m still going to tell you why I’m so excited about skydiving and why you should try it out!
Why did I decide to Skydive?
I’ve always had the itch to skydive. Everyone that I have ever talked to that has skydived has said that it was one of the most amazing experiences of their lives.
I’ve always been obsessed with airplanes and even took some flying lessons when I was in my teens. The smaller the airplane the better! I love the sensation of making turns and looking out the window to see the tiny trees and houses below.
I new that one day I would skydive… I have Ashley Mead of Skydive Chick to thank for giving me that extra little “push”.
I met Ashley and her boyfriend Rick at Bridge Day, several weeks ago, and she told me all about her experience with skydiving this past year. Later that week she emailed me and mentioned that if I was interested in making my first jump, that she and Rick would be happy to go along with me and shoot some video. I thought about it for a minute and decided that now is the time to do this!
Canton Air Sports
Shortly after Ashley’s email I called up Canton Air Sports and scheduled my first skydive. Canton Air Sports is Ashley and Rick’s home base for skydiving, and it’s only 45 minutes from my hometown of Yankee Lake, OH. The jump was set for this past Sunday, November 8th, 2009.
I arrived at Canton Air Sports around 1pm on Sunday. It happened to be one of the most beautiful days of the past couple of months. It was sunny, no clouds in the sky, and about 70 degrees on the ground.
The first thing that I noticed when I arrived was that the place was smaller than I expected. There was one barn-like building and a field next to it. Parked by the barn were two small prop planes.
I walked into the side door and everyone was super friendly from the start. I had to sign a couple of waivers and take everything out of my pockets. Then I went through a short training session where I learned how to exit the plane, arch my back, and put my legs out for a landing.
In order to jump with Ashley and Rick I had to wait for several loads of jumpers to go ahead of me. This gave me plenty of time to meet some great people and watch everyone pack their bags. I never realized how much effort was put into the packing. You have to use your whole body to get that big chute into a little bag!
Now it was my turn! My instructor, Tod, geared me up with a jumpsuit and a harness, and we were ready to rock! We all crammed into the little airplane (The Pilot, myself, Rick, Tod and Ashley). There was barley any room to move, but we managed.
The plane rolled down the runway and we lifted off. I had pictured this jump so many times in my head, and I was so ready for it that I didn’t get too nervous. I knew this was it, and there was no turning back. I also felt very safe with Tod, Rick and Ashley. I knew that they knew what they were doing, and I was just ready to have some fun!
It took us about 10 minutes to reach our exit altitude, which ended up being around 9,500 feet. The air was a little cooler and the ground was far below. Tod instructed me to kneel in front of him and he hooked my harness to his. As he tightened me down I slid my goggles on and I was ready to go.
Rick opened the door and climbed out first, holding onto the strut of the airplane. The wind was loud and rushing into the cabin. Tod told me to step out onto the landing gear. I put both feet out and he said, “Let’s go!” Next thing I knew we were tumbling into the air.
Time was a mix between super fast and super slow. I don’t really even remember leaving the airplane. I remember tumbling a couple of times and then stabilizing and looking around. Rick was out in front of us and the world was below us. I alternated between trying to take it all in and hamming it up for the camera. I think I threw more horns that day than I have my whole life :)
The free fall was quick. It probably lasted less than a minute. Tod released the chute and we slowed down to what seemed like almost a complete stop. A cheered a couple of times and took in the amazing view. Then Tod asked, “Are you ready to do that again, bro?” I said, “Hell yeah!” not really knowing what he meant.
Next thing I knew we were free falling again. This time I could feel my stomach moving up into my chest, that sensation you get on a big roller coaster. It was freaky and awesome at the same time. Then out popped our reserve chute and we were cruising smoothly.
Tod explained that the main chute was tangled and not flyable. So he made the decision to cut away and go to the reserve. Looking back at the footage I could see what he meant. That was a nasty tangle. The malfunction was very rare, and made for an unexpected 2 free falls for the price of 1 deal.
We coasted slowly for several thousand feet. I got a chance to take in the view and watch our main chute fall into the trees below. It was a great feeling to be hanging in the wind. We watched Rick and Ashley land below us and then circled around for our own landing. Since the reserve landed a little faster we put our feet up and just slid in on our asses for a safe landing!
My first skydive was such an amazing experience! Malfunction and all, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Everyone at Canton Air Sports was great. It really felt like I was entering a happy family while I was there. Everyone looked out for one another, and they all had a good time joking around and enjoying each others company.
If you have ever thought about skydiving now is the time to act. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today! Overcome your fears and have one of the most amazing experiences of your life. Chances are you will get hooked and be back for more. I know I will!
I will also be posting the video within the next couple of days, so that you can get a first hand look at my jump. Until then, Blue Skies!
P.S. Thanks again Tod, Ashley, Rick and everyone at Canton Air Sports! Hope to see you all again soon!