Well, it was more like we tumbled out of a plane.
Back in May, Daniel asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday. I was at work when he asked, so I sent him back a GIF of someone skydiving. I think he thought I was joking or would eventually change my mind but then this happened…
I don’t know if I’ve always wanted to go skydiving like some people say, I just knew I wanted to do it and life is too short not to do something a little risky every now and then!
We had heard of a place in Dandridge, Tennessee called East Tennessee Skydive and after reading all the reviews and watching their videos on YouTube, we decided to do it there.
Our jump was booked for 10 a.m., so Friday morning we woke up, ate breakfast and made the 30 minute drive. It was a beautiful day — sunny with some clouds here and there. We arrived about 15 minutes early. The first order of business was to watch a safety video that pretty much told us all the dangers of skydiving and all the things that could go wrong 🙂
Then we read through a really long waiver and signed our initials next to statements like, “You can’t sue us if you’re dismembered,” and “Your family can’t sue us if you die.”
After that fun, we went back upstairs and got to know our instructors. They were awesome. They were laid back, fun and got us really excited to jump! They told us a few things we’d need to do while we jumped out of the plane: keep your head back, arch your body and kick your feet back. I failed to remember to do all three of these things. Thankfully, my instructor remembered to do them for me!
After they gave us the rundown, they picked out our skydiving suits. Mine was bright green and yellow. It was super comfortable, I looked like Gumby and I didn’t want to give it back after it was over.
Once we were all suited up, they put our harnesses on and made sure they were nice and tight. Didn’t want to end up like this gal.
We waited around for a few minutes while the pilot got the plane ready, then we walked outside and our instructors reminded us about keeping our heads back, arching our bodies and kicking back our feet once we were ready to jump.
We walked toward the plane on the runway. It was definitely of the smaller breed. My instructor told me to get in and sit back to back with the pilot’s seat. Once I was in, he hopped in and sat at the very back of the plane, then Daniel’s instructor got in right next to me and finally Daniel squished in right beside the pilot’s seat. I’m still surprised that all five of us fit inside that plane! Here’s a shot of us all in the plane and our instructor taking a picture of Daniel behind him…
I was looking at the walls on the inside of the plane and my instructor told me that they ripped out all the other seats and cushions to make the plane lighter.
Once we were all packed in, we drove to the opposite end of the runway, made a U-turn and rumbled down the runway for a few seconds before I felt the plane lift off the ground. I kept expecting myself to get really nervous on the plane ride up, but I was distracted looking out at the mountains and lakes as we rose higher in the sky. I felt more excited than anything.
Once we reached around 9,000 feet, our instructors told us to face the front of the plane so that they could hook themselves onto our harnesses. 11,000 feet was the height we would be jumping out, so we were almost there!
When I got hooked into my instructor, we sat back and waited to reach our jumping altitude. The next thing I know, I see Daniel’s instructor open the door and Daniel stepping outside the plane! It was incredibly loud when he opened the door and it hit me then what we were actually about to do and I got really nervous. I watched Daniel and his instructor get situated for a few more seconds and then they just dropped out of the plane and were gone!
Then it was my turn. My instructor told me to scoot up to the door and I could feel the wind whipping past. My cheeks were flapping like crazy!
All I could do was look down with big, bulging eyes. Once my legs were outside the plane I was told to plant both of my feet on the step. I put my right foot down and then my left and then the wind caught my right foot and it came off the step and was kind of dangling there. I was dead scared and couldn’t get myself to get that foot back on the step. I just kept looking straight down at the ground and was probably the equivalent of a useless sack of potatoes to my instructor.
I held on tight to my harness straps and relied on him to pull my head back and push us out of the plane.
We did a somersault in the air and I just screamed and screamed. Half excited, half terrified and laughing hysterically! It was the craziest feeling ever.
My instructor pulled the drogue chute to stabilize us and then we were flying on our bellies and it felt like we were body surfing on a huge rush of wind.
I still had my hands on my shoulder straps, a little hesitant to stretch them out all the way, but eventually I got the courage to do it. I reminded myself to soak it all in and remember as much as I could. I made sure to look around at the beautiful scenery and remember the feeling and how insane it was that I was skydiving!
The free fall was my favorite part. After falling for about 30 seconds my instructor pulled our parachute. I looked off into the distance and saw Daniel’s parachute gliding downward. It was a quiet and peaceful ride compared to the free fall.
After gliding for a few minutes my instructor pulled hard on our parachute’s right steering handle and we started going in a fast spiral.
Just a few minutes after jumping out of the plane we were almost ready to land. I saw the runway and the big open field where we were headed and I was told that once we got close to the ground to pull up on the legs of my suit so that we could glide in on our butts.
For some reason I imagined my landing to be a really hard, painful, ungraceful thing, but it was very smooth and we glided on our butts for about five feet before we came to a stop.
I went over to Daniel who had already landed and we both couldn’t believe we just did that and agreed about how much fun it was! Our instructors were great and they played a big part in making our experience fun and memorable.
If you’ve ever thought about skydiving, do it! It’s totally worth it and we can’t say enough good things about East Tennessee Skydive.
We are living proof they pack their chutes correctly! 🙂
Thanks for reading,