Yes I’m scared of roller coasters and I jumped off a plane
There’s a reason I don’t do theme parks
And that’s because every time I hit a roller coaster, I throw up – violently.
I’m afraid of The Bat, The Great Canadian Ball Buster, Top Gun, and all the other crazy roller coasters out there. And yet last month, I jumped off a plane at 14,000 feet above Cookstown, Ontario. Let me tell you why.
One of my closest and most awesome friends recently asked me if I would join her in crossing something off her bucket list – skydiving before her 30th birthday. Now, I don’t make it a habit of doing any life-threatening stunt just because someone asked; but there was good reason. She had made a promise to her mother to not live in fear, but instead to conquer the things she feared most. Her mother had raised her kids almost completely on her own and never really had the chance to do all the things she wanted to do before she passed. And so to me, a promise to her mother is one I intend to help her keep.
And so, on August 27th, Nancy, Adam, and I got on a plane and did something I never thought I’d do – and let me tell you, it was life changing.
About the experience
- I was truly nervous about jumping – all the way until I did it. I wasn’t afraid of dying so much as I was afraid of puking or shitting my pants. No, really. I had paid for the photo and video option, and the last thing I wanted was to be immortalized online with videos of me yacking for 14,000 feet.
- A total of 9 people vomited that day – including the 2 ladies who jumped before us – they were completely covered in their breakfasts and the previous night’s dinners.
- While Nancy and Adam got some pretty good training on the way up, my tandem instructor did not tell me a single thing. In fact, I had no clue what to do with my equipment until I was boarding the plane.
- The team had voluntold me to jump first. And if you watch the video you’ll see that I was shaking my head in disbelief to the very end.
- I was not strapped in until about 12,500 feet – and I SAT BESIDE THE DOOR without even a seatbelt! The door was opened at 6,000 feet to let someone off – and believe me, I nearly peed my pants.
- And then the moment came when we jumped off – and that’s when I stopped being scared.
Skydiving is like falling for a very long time.
The scary part about falling is not actually the act of falling but really what comes after it: the realization that you’ll inevitably hit something hard and fast. And so, after falling for about a second (albeit at over 100mph and about 14,000 feet high), you realize that you’re not going to hit anything anytime soon. So instead, you just enjoy the scenery.
So it turned out that my instructor was fucking with me as I had told him I’m very scared and get nauseated easily – so he played on my fear while we were going up. The jump and the ride down was actually very fun, pleasant, and safe.
Some other interesting tidbits
– Skydiving is very safe. I definitely felt it and saw it first hand. I’m certain that if there was any trouble that one of the other jumpers would have been able to save me. These guys were absolute pros and were able to fly up close and touch us while falling at 120mph!
– The freefall lasts about 45-50 seconds and you generally hit terminal velocity at 120mph. The parachute ride lasts about 4-5 minutes.
– I wish someone had reminded me to not open my mouth while falling at high speeds (gee, if only I had some training).
– The most difficult (read: painful) part is when the parachute opens, because you suddenly drop from 120mph to what felt like 0mph and all the weight is bore by your shoulders and your groin area (I’ll leave this at that).
So there you have it. As much as this jump was about me conquering one of my fears and just doing something batshit crazy; this jump was more about fulfilling a promise to a loved one. And I’m proud to have been there for this special moment.
Until next time (and yes, I’m down for a next time).