Skydiving in Wisconsin!
Milwaukee Travel Blog› entry 15 of 18 › view all entries
The video isnt here yet.. but here's a little (or not so little!) account of my latest adventure!
"Winter is fast approaching.. the warmth of the summer
may last only a few weeks more. I wont be here for another summer. This is it.
If I ever want to jump out of a plane, now's the time!"
- with thoughts like these, I cajoled myself into calling up the nearest Skydive place and making an appointment.
So on a Saturday morning, I decided its now or never.. and set off towards the little private air strip an hour north of
We waited till 5 in the evening for a clear patch in the sky... but the Gods said Nay!
And so, dejected, we set homewards... promising to be back when the weather cleared.
The next morning, I awoke to the sunniest skies ever! Birds chirping... sun shining high.. the green gass fresh with dew.. It was the perfect summer day! I nudged the sleepy Bhagwad and told him we just had to go back to the skydive place. Such a day was not to be wasted!
The sunny skies held the clouds away all day long and everyone at the dive zone exclaimed at how lovely a day this was to jump out of a plane :D
There was already a long queue when I arrived.
Soon, my batch was announced and asked to head over to the hanger to get geared up for the jump. There were three of us inexperienced jumpers in the lot. We were going to be jumping tandem - with an instructor. (To jump alone, one must be certified and all that). So the three of us gathered around the entrance of the hanger.. awaiting further instructions.
An instructor soon came along.. asked for a "Peter" and took away one of the guys.
Five minutes later, another instructor took away the other guy... leaving me standing all by myself at the entrance... feeling quite uncomfortable!
Five more minutes pass..... and then an announcement is heard - "This is a 5 minute call for Load 21.. Load 21 please be ready to board in 5 minutes"........
Load 21!!!!!!!!! That was meee! And I wasnt geared up! I didnt even know who my instructor was!! I hadnt even been given any instructions!!!!
I caught hold of the first staff I saw and told him I had no clue what to do.
The guy looks up and says "Hi.. I'll be there in a few moments".. and goes back to what he is doing. On closer inspection I find out that he is actually folding a parachute... and packing it up... for the jump that is to happen in 5 minutes!!!!!!!
I try and calm myself... heart beat rising....
One of the ground staff come running to me and tell me they'll help me gear up. Thank God! Something!
I'm put into a harness and asked to wait for my instructor (who is still very coolly packing up his parachute!)
Announcement - "Flight is awaiting Load 21... load 21 please board the flight!"
My feet are shaking at this point. My "instructor" shoves the rest of the parachute into his backpack (rather clumsily - I thought! This is my LIFE we're talking about!) and urges me to hurry! And with that we rush into this tiny little plane which is already jam packed with people!
The photographer asks me to smile as I enter the plane.
I had hardly placed my butt on my seat when the plane sped away and took off in an instant! I try and look out the window to calm my nerves.
Photographer wants another smile. I have more important issues on my mind! (The parachute was stuffed in too badly - what is it doesnt open? My harness didnt feel quite secure - what if it slips off? This instructor hasnt even bothered to give me any basic instructions - what if I do something wrong and DIE???..)
But I attempt a smile for the cameraman anyway.
Soon I feel the instructor fiddling around with his gear... and then checking mine (finally!!!)... Found it to be too loose... and started making adjustments... in that cramped little plane!
He was making me verrrryyyyyy nervous with his extreme coolness!
At 10,000 feet, he decided to get chatty! Asked me how I feel. "Extremely nervous" I replied, truthfully!
The videographer tells me I must look chill for the camera. I try.
On the ground, I had overheard all the other instructors give their student nice pep talks... and more importantly, LOADS of instructions!
I was yet to receive any.
At 12,000 feet, my instructor strapped me on to his gear.. And then decided to tell me what I am supposed to do.
"We need to move up to that little door when its time for the jump", he says...
Yup, very informative! Like I didn’t already know THAT!
"All you need to do, is keep your arms folded in front of you... chin up... and then just relax and leave the rest to me", he smiles and tells me.
Ok... I'll relax, I tell myself.
"But don’t I need to arch my back and throw my feet back and all that???" I decided to prod my instructor.. and used words that I had overheard the other instructors using.
He laughed. "Trust me, no one ever remembers any of those instructions on the first jump.. So don’t bother with the ones you don’t need to remember anyway! Just remember to keep your hands folded in front of you.
Ok.. this guy seems to know what he's doing. So, I'll trust him. (Like I had a choice!)
14,500 feet. Time for the jump. Door opens. My instructor signals to the photographer that we'll be jumping first.
I had no time to protest.. he nudged me forward till I was at the door... I looked down - Once. And then decided to focus on the skies!
In all the videos that I had seen on people going tandem sky diving, I had observed this moment with great interest. The moment of the jump. And in all the videos, I had noticed the instructor talk to the person at that moment.. maybe a "relax" talk.. just a few reassuring words... And then the instructor would kind of swing to and fro for a second (thus giving the student enough time to look down and panic!).. and then dive.
But of course, my instructor couldn’t be bothered with such frivolous acts!
I didnt get even a moment to catch my breath.
One moment I was trudging towards the door, and the next, I was falling. HARD!
And then I realised... hey - this is not too bad! In fact, it was pretty awesome!
I knew I was falling fast... I could see
I had heard that breathing could be a problem.. but somehow, I felt fine. I felt the breeze slam against my face... I felt my skin being stretched back like elastic...
But I felt so thrilled!!!!
I was falling from 14000 feet above the ground!!!
"Smile" - signaled the photographer, as my instructor grabbed hold of his leg! The two played around for a bit.. tagging me along... I was quite enjoying myself ... doing some superman impersonations and all :D
And then.... suddenly... we stopped falling! I felt a strong tug against my harness. And then I was suspended in mid air! Just hanging there!!!! As if I had been hooked on to some invisible hook in the sky!
The parachute had been opened.
And then I suddenly looked around me and saw the view... much clearer now that I wasnt dropping like a stone..
The thrill of the fall drifted away and a nice comfortable feeling of soaring like a bird took over... And everything looked so pretty..
"wow....WOW....!" I exclaimed...looking all around. My instructor laughed.. and asked me if I enjoyed the fall. I did.. I did!!!
"Now enjoy the glide" said he.. and put something in my hands... the reins (or whatever they are called!) to maneuver the chute! Pull the left one down to turn left... right one to turn right.. and keep both held high and straight to move in the same direction.
Ok, this wasn’t too tough!
I yanked the left rope down... and wheeeeeeeeeeeee........we did a little twirl right there in the air!!!
And so there I was... in the air... twirling around with my parachute!!!
(I later found out that this was a privilege that none of the other instructors had bestowed upon their students! And so I completely forgave my instructor for his ultra coolness on the ground! He was fun when in the air - and surely that was more important!)
As we approached the zone, he took over the maneuvering.. and steered us to the landing point.
Suddenly - Panic attack once more! I didnt know what I was supposed to do at landing. Again, I had overheard all the other instructors give detailed instructions on what to do and what not to do in order to keep your legs from breaking during a landing!
As if on cue, my instructor told me that just as we are going to land, when he says so, I must raise my legs as high as I can in front of me.
Ok.. goood. I can do that.
We head down steadily... fast... but steady... Ground is approaching..........almost there.........................
"Legs up???" I prompt him... He laughs and asks me to relax!
I can smell the flowers on the ground....that close are we!
And then he says "Everyone lands on their feet.
What?????? noooooooooo!!! I want to land on my feet like a lady!!!!
But again, I have no time to voice my protest!
"Legs up!" screams he! (milliseconds before touchdown!!)
I scream and raise my legs as high as I can... and we slide onto the grass on our butts....with a hearty laugh!
"Smile" said the photographer.....
And this time, I had absolutely no trouble in presenting my most genuine smile ever!!!