It's loud, cold, and more crowded than the back seat of a Lexus SC convertible. There's four of us wearing helmets, goggles, weird suits... and parachutes. Suprisingly enough though, this isn't the first time I've been in this situation. I did a tandem skydive last August, but this time there's no one strapped to my back. This time I let go of the plane myself. This time I pull the chute. This time I save my life.
The altimeter reads 9000 feet and my heart rate is rising with the altitude. Responsibility is a strange thing I guess, because last jump I had nothing to do but enjoy the view, so going in I was just as calm as the instructors were. This jump, however, everything was pretty much up to me and this realization happened to hit me after I'm close to 2 miles above the earth. A final check of the altimeter and we're at about 13500. The door opens up and I'm nervous as fuck. I follow the first instructor and step out onto the platform above the wheel, holding onto the wing strut. A simple "check in, check out," and I'm ready to go.
Similarly to skiing powder or getting shacked surfing, there are no thoughts going through my head at this point. It's just muscle memory as I go through the motions of prop, up, down, and lastly arch. Letting go of an airplane is a tough thing to comprehend. Here I am thousands of miles above the ground, outside of an airplane ready to fall. As I let go of the plane and begin to fall, a simple change of body position (arch) allows me to fly. The ability to relax while flying through the sky at 120mph is an experience unlike any other. The tandem skydive gave me this feeling, however, I didn't truly feel free being attached to someone. With no one on my back and just two instructors at my side, I was responsible. This responsibility that created nerves and doubt inside the airplane, symbolized freedom outside in the sky. The term "skydiving" implies diving or falling through the sky, but it is really the purest form of flying.
My first jump opened my eyes but this jump got me out of bed. Get out of your "bed" and get into an airplane and into the sky. "If riding in an airplane is flying, then riding in a boat is swimming. If you want to experience the element, then get out of the vehicle."