Skydiving was number 1 on my bucket list. It’s a bit of a cliché; I admit it, but skydiving was something I promised myself I would do. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. It’s illogical to voluntarily jump out of a plane trusting a complete stranger to 1) deploy the parachute and 2) to check the parachute truly works and lastly, to believe a piece of simple string and material will save you from plummeting to your death. Illogical. I admit it 100%. But logic gets pushed to the wayside when you have a bucket list.
When I went to visit family in Pennsylvania, I decided–This. Was. The. Time. It was now or never. I called Above the Poconos Skydivers and arranged to jump. They said that all I needed to do was show up dressed according to the weather conditions. That day was sunny and warm, so I wore shorts and running shoes. I wear glasses so wore contacts since you are required to wear goggles for the jump.
Skydiving – The night before
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. The night before, I barely slept. I thought about what could go wrong. How short my life would be. My stomach hurt more than you could imagine. I actually woke up covered in sweat. The mind jumped between two thoughts: “You are crazy.” AND “This is going to be so awesome.” Luckily, the second thought won over the first. I kept thinking how amazing it must be to look out for miles and miles.
At the PA Skydiving Center
Upon arrival, you are required to fill out a registration form, medical statement, and agreement/release of liability, are weighed to ensure you are not over the limit, watch a video, and pay for the jump.
My photographer and my instructor that were jumping with me were both so calm and relaxed. The instructor that I was going to jump tandem with actually ate an ice cream cone right before we got on the plane! I thought, “this is the type of calm, cool person I want to jump with.”
They showed me how we would sit on the plane, how to slide your knees out over the edge of the aircraft and just fall. I’d be lying again if I said my stomach didn’t hurt. It did. But I was determined. I waved goodbye to my family, a bit choked up, I admit, and into the plane we went. We packed into the little plane, literally, like sardines; my legs on top of the photographer while I leant back on my instructor. “There is no modesty in skydiving,” said one of the jumpers”; we all laughed.
The moment we took off, I could tell I had another moment to decide, panic or just go with it. I decided, yet again, the second option was much better. I felt the plane lift off of the ground and knew–this was it–there was no turning back, I needed just to stay calm and enjoy the ride!
The climb in altitude seemed like an eternity, but soon enough, we were above 10,000 feet. I could feel my heart race, partly with anticipation, and partly fear. And then things got REAL.
They opened the door of the plane, and I could see out for miles. The wind whipped by so quickly. Soon a few jumpers calmly jumped out of the aircraft, and my instructor told me to slide forward. We were next!
I put on my goggles, felt for my instructor one last time to ensure that he was attached to me, then he told me, “Kim, it’s time”. I slid my knees out to the right and over the edge of the plane, as they had shown me, then all of a sudden it just felt like we were falling. The feeling was almost indescribable.
Quiet, calm serenity of the jump
Surprisingly, although the wind is whipping by you, it is entirely quiet. The view is nothing like from the plane, because you are part of the sky, with nothing in between you and the ground. In an instant, I went from fear to pure joy and just screamed and laughed with joy. If you could describe what it means to be totally free—the word is skydiving.
Although you can free fall at speeds up to 125 miles per hour, it doesn’t feel like you imagine—that you fall like a rock. You almost glide along with the wind. There are no objects up there to determine how fast you are going. About 30 seconds later, the instructor pulls the ripcord, you feel a slight jerk, then enjoy the weightless ride towards the ground for what I describe as one of the best 5 minutes of my life. You see it all. Houses. Rivers. Trees and the most beautiful clouds. Like you could never imagine. With his guidance, the instructor gives you the control lines, so that you can steer yourself wherever you choose. It was just genuine peace.
My instructor then took us so that I could fly over my family and all I did was scream down to them in pure joy. To land, you naturally steer yourself to where you want to go, then pull your legs up and fall on your butt, and if you’re like me, that’s when you’ll laugh with joy.
Skydiving. Would I recommend it to anyone? Absolutely. It’s the sum of being completely afraid and completely free. There is nothing like it. You will receive a certificate for your first jump but be sure to pay a little extra for pictures and video. It’s not cheap. But, if it was, wouldn’t you worry? It’s worth it. After all, how many times do you plan on jumping out of a plane?
Info: Above the Poconos Skydivers 200 Old Airport Road, Hazleton, PA 18202 | (570) 788-2476
Cost: First tandem skydiving: $224 | $89.99 for DVD plus pictures