I have always wanted to jump, sky dive since I can remember. When I signed up in the USArmy Military Police on my contract I had requested to be airborne qualified. However, after completing basic training at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina in the summer of 1977 I was at Ft. McClellan, Alabama to complete Military Police School when my security clearance was being worked on due to being born in Poland it took longer than expected so airborne school was nixed by the Army.
So fast track to 2022 a client of mine who had jumped before suggested that I jump with him. He wanted to do it again. We had a couple of delays because others had wanted to come along but the coordination of multiple persons got complicated so ultimately on April 4th, 2022 I decided to do it by myself.
So I got up early in the morning and drove from Jacksonville, Florida to the The Skydive Space Center located in Titusville, Florida. The Skydive Space Center touts themselves as the world’s highest tandem jump at 18,000 feet. I was excited by that fact because I wanted to free fall for as long as possible and really wanted to start as high as possible in order to be more excited and have more fear. Yes, that’s right more fear! What’s interesting was that in my mind as I’m driving there I wasn’t worried about the jump as much as whether I was going to get to do it. Worrying thoughts like is the weather or wind going to be bad or getting into a traffic accident etc. I really wanted to have this experience and I also thought that maybe by some divine intervention or whatever I won’t be allowed to do it .
When I got there I was the first one sitting in a room signing a ton of paperwork and release of liability forms. I met my instructor , got instructions and was fitted into my harness and sat down with a bunch of tourists I believe were from Brazil, and an American couple. The twin propped plane was prepped and we got in, it was fairly packed with jumpers and instructors. On the way to the plane my thoughts were hmm this is really going to happen and I was definitely in the moment. There was kind of an inner chuckle going on like dude you’re really going to do doing this . There were numerous other thoughts going on at the same time like a review of my life from the military to the police department to my children to my recent divorce to my brother who had passed away the previous year .I actually was wearing a T-shirt from Canon City, Colorado from the Grand Gorge that a friend of mine had given me . My brother when he retired from the Orange County Fire Department had moved his family to Canon City, Colorado. That gorge was a couple miles from his house. Did I jump for my brother or in remembrance of him? Now as I’m writing this I believe it was for myself. Did I have feelings about my children the people I love , my clients and him sure I did but it was complicated ultimately I wanted the fear and excitement.
As plane climbed we got to the jumping altitude the door was opened, my thoughts quieted and I was reviewing my instructions as to how to get to the opening and allow the instructor who I was connected to push us out .
Exiting the plane happened very quickly . We were the second pair to jump. I was glad because I did not want to wait long . As you can see from the photo and tape how quickly we separated from the plane the view was expansive . The initial first few seconds were fast, breathtaking and violent meaning that the force of falling through the air was powerful and breathtaking. It was violent and you were not in control ,looking back it reminded me of moments I had experienced in the Army and Police department when you are wrestling with a suspect or in a dangerous situation where the suspect has a gun or weapon and you are not in control and are afraid but also filled with adrenaline. Those moments can become addictive because even with the fear you are more present in your life in those moments than you have ever been. What a lot of people can’t understand is that once you have that experience or multiple ones it changes you . After facing death like moments you are changed and relating back to normality is different and for some they can’t. I know that I have and had PTSD symptoms.
Back to the jump. When you are falling the force of the air buffets your cheeks and face. The free fall lasted for a minute and six seconds . I liked it after a while and it became quite peaceful. I got to look around and then the instructor tapped me on the shoulder to signal that the parachute was about to deploy and you have a hard tug and then you are floating with the speed dramatically slowed. I liked the free fall part more and missed it , floating down was okay and enjoyable but not as exhilarating. The approach to the landing was fun watching others land below you and then circling a couple of times and landing. We landed less than 100 feet from where we got on the plane. It wasn’t a perfect landing my feet kind of got stuck a little and the instructor fell over me but nothing hard.
Would I do it again? Sure but probably with a group to share and feel their emotions. But by myself most like not because it would not have the same intensity and fear ! That’s kind of the way I’m wired.
Now I’m more propelled to look at the micro and macro of nature and finding wonder in the world and universe that we are in . It has taken me quite a while to get to that spot and I continue on trying to get better every day. Having fear is human and normal. You have the right to be on this planet as much as anyone else. Facing the fear and still moving forward can be exhilarating. You don’t have to jump out of a plane we’re all wired differently. What makes sense for one person at the moment is nonsense for another. Just work on attempting to be better every day.