I’m not sure if I’m having an early mid-life crisis, or just getting bolder in my old age, but this summer I was talked into doing something crazy: jumping out of a plane. Five years ago I don’t think I would have done it. Now, I think I want to do it again.
To skydive with Skydive Snohomish, you need to book your appointment a little in advance, prepay a $50 deposit, and give yourself about 3 hours at the facility. You also have to be at least 18 years old, and weigh less than 220lbs.
Disappointingly, the day I was first scheduled to go was cloudy, and as my friend (a serious skydiver and the one that talked me into) said, “You can’t jump in low clouds; they’re not fluffy like you think.” Deep down I knew this of course, but was in angry denial at the weather all day. For my rescheduled jump earlier this month, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.
As a newbie I was tandem jumping, which meant I had an experienced diver strapped to my back. Or rather, I was strapped to his front. Either way, I felt a lot more confident in his ability to pull the parachute than mine so I was happy. My biggest fear was fear itself: I thought that once I was on the plane, looking down, I might not want to go. Or worse, I might throw up.
When you arrive for your appointment, you sign a five-page waiver that repeatedly tells you that you might die. Don’t let this scare you off. Do make sure your life insurance policy is up to date before you go. Once you’ve signed your life away (quite literally), you watch an instructional video about how to do a few main things in the jump: how to exit the plane correctly, and how to land. Then, an instructor reiterates those factors and has you practice the positions you need to be in on the ground before you head out to the staging area to suit up.
Your tandem diving partner gets you all geared up and ready to go with flight suit, goggles and hat, and then you board the plane. I got lucky in two ways here: first, I had a great instructor who calmed my nerves by telling the cheesiest jokes ever on the plane (How do you find Will Smith in the snow? Look for the fresh prints). Secondly, I was the last tandem person to board which meant I was the first one to jump out, and I didn’t have to build up anticipation watching the rest of the plane go.
Was I scared? Yes and no. I was nervous, and before it was my turn to jump out, I had to watch three individuals jump. But when my turn came and we started scooting our butts toward the exit, I didn’t have time to be scared. I didn’t even have time to realize I was at the edge before my tandem partner pushed us out.
The first feeling out of the plane was indescribable – like being terrified and exhilarated at once. It was loud, my ears hurt a little, and I lost my sense of what direction I was facing. Once the parachute opened, everyone was suddenly completely silent, and i got to gaze around for miles at the view. Although you’re skydiving over Snohomish (next to Stocker Farms), you can see all of Seattle, the Puget Sound, Mount Baker, and more. My tandem partner let me steer for a little while before we landed safely on the ground.
I’ve posted a few photos here of the process, and highly encourage your inner daredevil to knock this off your bucket list!