Saturday, January 28, 2012

Flying Through The Sky

I'm not really sure who decided jumping out of an airplane at 13,500 feet was a good idea. And I'm not sure what exactly possessed me to agree with them. Perhaps it's because skydiving is something I've always thought was cool but never really took an initiative to do, mostly because of cost and because it was just never something that presented itself to me in a realistic way that I'd be able to do it. And perhaps it's because a Groupon came along, which forced me to do it because if I was paying in advance I couldn't chicken out, and who doesn't like to just save money on things?

Did I mention I have a slight fear of falling? Yea, you're probably thinking I'm an idiot for going skydiving where I am literally FALLING THROUGH THE AIR. Hurdling towards earth. Relying on a piece of fabric to prevent me from going kersplat into the ground. I'm the kind of person who if I'm on the 3rd level of the RBC Center, if I look up at the ceiling, I get a hint of vertigo. I'm totally fine with heights, it's more the falling to my death thing that gets me. But in making sure I follow through on my resolution of "being an awesomer Carolyn" I bought the Groupon with zero fear.

In the weeks leading up to this, I didn't once start freaking out and try to figure a way out of it. I just kept getting more and more excited. This is one of those things that I surprisingly never questioned what I was doing. I used the power of imagination to help keep myself calm. I imagined myself flying through the air and just enjoying the scenery. Plus, since you have to jump tandem until you've done it enough times, you don't have much responsibility or things to freak out about, like jumping at the right time, or pulling the parachute, or landing correctly. So I went into this feeling just excited, not scared.

So many people told me I was crazy or they couldn't believe I was doing this. I'm glad none of those people were at the Triangle Skydiving Center in Louisburg, which is where we were jumping from. Everyone there just acted like skydiving was something you do every day...which for most of these people, they do do it almost every day. It helped to keep me calm. It also helped having my friend Kia there to do it with me.

After filling out our paperwork, we suited up (Skydive Suit Up! Five points if you get that), put on harnesses and got briefed on how we jump out of the plane and everything that will happen leading up to it.

Skydiving Tip Number One: Try to make sure you're in the first load. You won't have to wait around for a long time and worry about things getting delayed.

It took us about 12 or so minutes to get up to altitude for jumping. It was such a perfect day. Sunny and not a cloud in the sky. As we were climbing, we had these altimeters that told us what our altitude was. Our tandem jumpers pointed out when it was 6,000 feet. That would be the height we would pull our parachutes. I clearly have no concept of altitude because I felt that we were SUPER high for 6,000 feet in the air. The whole ride up, I just focused on my breathing, deep breathes in and out, in and out. I didn't really look out the window much, just in case it would start to freak me out.

Skydiving Tip Number Two: Breathe. Focus. Meditate. Pray if you want. It'll help keep your nerves calm even though your adrenaline is pumping.

Kia went first, which was fine by me, once we hit about 14,000 feet. I didn't want to watch her jump, just in case that would also freak me out. The only moment of a slight twinge of fear that I had was when I accidentally looked up and saw the back of Kia's tandem guy go out the plane. That made it 100% real. Everything up to that moment didn't bring the realisticness of the situation, but knowing that Kia just went out the plane made me realize I was about to do the same thing.

Twelve seconds later, we were standing at the door. We rocked forward, rocked back, and then rocked forward right out the plane.

I only closed my eyes for the initial jump, but kept them open the rest of the time to make sure I didn't miss a thing. After falling a little, we turned to the right, and then spun to the left. At about 10,000 feet, I threw up the Wolfpack sign because I felt I needed to do something cool.
Yes, I do look terrified. But my screaming was more of a gut reaction because hell, you are flying through the air and all you see is the ground below you. My mouth got super dry because it was freaking cold up there, but in general I stayed pretty warm thanks to the gloves, neck warmer, and helmet.

You really don't feel like you're falling. You just feel like you are flying, because you are! There was no stomach drop feeling, no terror. I felt like a bird, or a plane, or Superman! One thing my tandem guy told me was that until you reach about 2,000 feet above the ground, you don't notice the ground below you getting bigger or closer as you're falling, and that is awesome because it enhances the feeling that you're flying because you don't notice much of a difference.

After about only 60 seconds of free falling, we hit 6,000 feet and it was time to pull the parachute. Thank goodness my guy had to do it because I was not paying enough attention to realize we were already to that point. I couldn't believe how fast it went.

Skydiving Tip Number Three: Eat beforehand, and eat something bland. That way, you don't risk getting a little nauseous when the chute gets pulled. Luckily I thought about this last night and just had some Poptarts for breakfast.

And then we spent about 5 minutes or so just floating along towards the ground. I was able to look around and see downtown Raleigh and even Durham. The whole way down I kept thinking, I can't believe I did it. I just went skydiving. Who would have thunk it?? And then we landed very smoothly and alive most importantly haha.

My adrenaline was rushing for a good hour or two afterwards because it was pretty crazy. But it was one of the coolest things I have ever done. The only bummer out of the whole thing was that the battery for the camera for still photos my video guy had on his head died. But I had the video, which is totally okay because I was able to get stills from it. All I wanted was the proof I did it, in case I never do again.

As far as doing it again? I haven't decided. You'd think the fact that I was able to do it once, I could do it again, but after watching myself go out of the plane, I'm still not 100% sure I could do it again knowing what's actually going to happen. Give me a day or two and maybe I'll be able to give you a better answer on that question. Either way, you should at least do it once. It's such a thrill and it goes by so fast, you don't really realize what's going on until it's over.

I keep thinking all day about what I saw flying through the air. And every time I have to stop and say to myself, "Carolyn. Those are real memories. They're not guesses at what you're going to see. You really saw that!!"

I did edit part of Kia's and my videos together, so to see the awesomeness, here you go! It's not perfect because I didn't want to spend hours editing it, so it starts with Kia, and then kind of restarts with me, but we were on the same load. It was just easier to trim things that way. And yes, I do look slightly crazed and funny and weird, but whatevs! Doesn't bother me because I just jumped out of an airplane!


  1. For someone who is afraid of falling, you looked like you were on top of the world! (Get it? on top of the world?).

  2. I'm so happy you did this!! Your video is awesome, you looked like you had so much fun. I want to hear all about it! <3

  3. I had so much fun watching this video! That looked SO FUN and I'm so glad you did it!!