“Jumping is fun! Skydiving is not just falling; it is flying—the closest we have been able to come to free, unencumbered, non-mechanical individual flight,” says Mike Turoff in the book The Skydiver’s Handbook. I totally agree with him because skydiving provides the maximum liberty that one can ever experience. In this article, I’d like to describe to you my first jump in order to show you how much fun skydiving is. First of all, I learned about skydiving via the Internet and TV. There are countless pages of information about skydiving on the Internet. My first jump was a part of the accelerated free fall (AFF). AFF is a course for training new skydivers which includes fourteen jumps. Even though it has fourteen jumps, you will always remember the first one! On the jump day, I went to the skydiving center at 8:30 in the morning. The AFF course started at 9:00. The course included basic parachute equipment information, free falling information, emergency procedures, parachute opening, canopy control, and finally landing information. We were only four people in the classroom.
The AFF students studied all the necessary lessons to make a safe skydive. We used special equipment to study parachute equipment, canopy control, and landing. After seven long hours, at the end of the class, we took a written exam. We had to score 100% in order to pass the test. Everybody passed. Then came the gear-up part! We put on our diving overalls, parachutes, altimeters which are used to watch the altitude during the skydive, helmets, gloves and goggles. There were many professional skydivers around, and they were giving us a hard time with some traditional skydiving jokes. I myself was the first person from the class who was going to jump. The next step was boarding the airplane. We used a twin otter double engine aircraft. That was a large aircraft; at least twenty skydivers could get on that plane. I was sitting between two jumpmasters (skydiving instructors) and in front of a cameraman. At that moment, I started feeling extremely worried and excited. The jumpmasters were talking to me, asking questions about my feelings.
During the plane’s take off, all I could say was, “Wow!” Then, I began watched my altimeter to see whether the altitude number was changing. I want to stop here to tell you something about the other skydivers on board. They were very relaxed although the aircraft was uncomfortable. Probably, I was the most frightened person on board. The others were telling jokes to each other and even drinking juice. Some of them were offering me candies and gum to celebrate my becoming a skydiver. In short, those guys were the craziest people that I have ever seen together. Can you imagine someone drinking orange juice just before jumping down from thirteen thousand feet? Well, that’s what they did. The altimeter was working perfectly. Only that fact was able to make me smile a little bit, but I was also considering what I could do if my parachute didn’t open! Finally, all the altimeters were saying thirteen thousand feet. The jumpers opened the door. I looked down and was able to see someone who had already jumped.
Then, because of the cold air at that altitude, my goggles smoked up and I could hardly see anymore. After a few seconds, the smoke disappeared and I could see the airplane was empty. All the other skydivers had already jumped except for my jumpmasters and myself. They told me to stand up and walk toward the exit door. I felt pretty heavy and could hardly walk.This may have been because of the heavy jump suit and parachute equipment. As I approached the door, I felt colder and colder. My cameraman was outside of the plane, and the jumpmasters were holding me tightly for a safe, very first skydive. My jumpmasters and I did the exiting procedures and finally let ourselves go out of the airplane. Those were the most interesting and enjoyable seconds that I have ever experienced. For a few seconds, I had a sense of falling.
Then, I noticed that we were falling faster and faster as the seconds passed. After a while, after about the first ten seconds, I could see my cameraman filming my free fall. I was supposed to do some air maneuvers to pass to the second AFF level. I did those. My jumpmasters were still holding me and waiting actively for any possible emergencies. There was no longer any sense of falling and speed. It was mostly like floating in the air and hearing the wind deep in your ears. I periodically checked my altimeter to see the proper altitude to pull my ripcord and open the parachute. The necessary altitude to pull it was 5,500 feet. At that altitude, I gave a “5-5” signal to my jumpmasters, and I pulled my ripcord. That was extremely enjoyable. My parachute opened fast, and I felt a little shocked. Once my canopy opened, I checked it for any malfunction. It was perfectly okay and stable.
The canopy flight, of course, was much slower than the free fall. I could see the beautiful environment from thousands of feet above. Then I looked for the drop zone “landing area” and saw it behind the clouds. I flew my parachute to the drop zone and very smoothly landed on the ground. I was one of the successful students who were able to walk right after touching down, without falling. The 5-minute adventure was ended! I picked up my parachute and walked through the skydiving building. It was a sunny day. My friends and my family members celebrated the adventure for the rest of the day, and I decided to continue skydiving.
Today, I am an AFF level four student with three successful jumps. However, of course, my first jump will always be the most enjoyable and unforgettable one. If I were you, I would not waste any more time. I would sign up for a very first jump as soon as possible. Once you try it, you will not be able to stop making jumps. At least, I have not been able to do so. I continue to go skydiving whenever I can. I would like to give one more personal message: Skydiving is a must-do activity, and everyone must try it at least once in his or her life. I guarantee you that it will be an unforgettable experience for you, too!
Courtney from Study Moose
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