Saturday, August 29, 2009

Absolutely. Totally. Breathless.

August is just about over.

It's cold and wet outside. Last weekend it was Hurricane Bill. This weekend ... Tropical Storm Dan. I always knew men were nothing but trouble.

But at least we did have our vacation.

It was a good trip. Most definitely not a relaxing trip (we didn't stay in any one place for more than three days at a time), but still a good trip.

Two days in Steinbach, Manitoba. Then off to Oshkosh. Oh yeah, Oshkosh ... heavy sigh... Back to Steinbach. This time for one day. Off to Saskatchewan for two days. Back to Steinbach for a whole three days. Then home.

Did I miss anything?

Oh yeah, maybe one not so little thing.

The Jump. The Free Fall. The Terror.

Yup, that's right. Yours truly jumped out of a perfectly good airplane [that did, in fact, land shortly thereafter].

How was it, you ask?

Well ... to put the matter simply, I pretty much hated it. That's right. I. Hated. It. End of story.

Don't get me wrong. I am totally happy that I did it. It's something I've wanted to do for a very long time. It's just that (did I mention that I hated it?) I have no need nor desire to do it ever again.

I wasn't scared at all. At least not until after we fell out of the plane.

I jumped tandem @ 11,000 feet, meaning we had 6,000 feet of free fall. We were taught to keep our hands crossed on the chest (so we wouldn't grab the door of the aircraft and refuse t budge), bend our knees so our feet were behind us and arch our back.

Hands. Check.

Knees. Check.

Arch. Not so much.

I simply could not arch no matter how hard I tried. The wind was too strong. I suppose strong core muscles would help, eh?

Anyway, as I said I couldn't arch my back at all and we tumbled. And tumbled. Did I mention the repeated somersaults? Between that and simply not being able to breathe ... yeah, that was a treat.

Absolutely. Totally. Breathless.
Absolutely. Totally. Terrified.

That about sums up the free fall.

When Moo (yeah, I said Moo ... you had to love Moo, he was a great guy and absolutely hilarious) pulled the rip cord and my head was finally up, my feet were finally down and I could breathe again, he asked me how I had liked it.

How do you answer that question? The word "terrifying" did immediately come to mind.

The rest of the journey was okay but nothing too extraordinary. We weren't up very long after the free fall. I guess you stay up longer if you jump solo. The trade off is the free fall, of course.

But then my dear Moo made a couple of sharp turns left to right (to slow us down to land, I presume) and suddenly I was so nauseous. So totally nauseous. I didn't want to yell say anything right away and admit how sick I felt. After all, he was having a ball. Fortunately for me, just when I figured out that my only choices were to whine complain loudly or totally embarrass myself, we were ready to land.

The landing was okay. Although he kept yelling at me to put my legs out in front of me. And I kept yelling back that they were up, that was as far as they were going to go. When that concept finally got through to him, he grabbed the legs of my flight suit and pulled my legs up higher. We both basically landed on our butts. So gracious we were. A thing of beauty you might say.

It was a hot day and I couldn't wait to get the harness off and get out of that flight suit. When I did, I immediately became aware of the rest of the story. I was absolutely soaked with sweat. I guess between the adrenaline rush of the free fall and the later nausea ... yeah, that's enough about that.

Except that a whole crowd of my brother's friends had come to watch his wife and I jump and we were all suppose to be going out for supper afterwards. Right afterwards. As in we were already late for our reservations.

No way. No how. I made my sister-law take me back to their place where I changed my clothes and drained the contents of their water cooler. I still felt so sick and the car ride back to the house (followed by another long ride to the restaurant) definitely didn't help any.

Eventually it subsided. Although off and on all evening, even when I was feeling fine, out of nowhere I would get the sensation of butterflies (free falling butterflies, perhaps?) in my stomach.

And that night, about o'dark thirty I woke up so dry ... You might remember in your younger days, when you use to drink a fair bit too much (or you might remember that from last weekend, I suppose) when you had been out drinking and would then wake up so dry you thought you might die from lack of water. Again I drained the water cooler.

And so. The tale was done.

My sis-in-law loved it BTW. Go figure...

The place where we jumped also offered hang gliding flights. This was the first time we had been out to my brother's place in the ten years they have lived there. So I asked her if, when I came back in another ten years, she would hang glide with me. Sure, she enthusiastically replied.

Head up. Feet down. That's the way I need to fly. It be next on my list.

And if you were hoping for a picture or a video, then I am sorry to disappoint. Although my brother and his friends promised to send me some of the pics they took so if I ever get them, I might ... just might (no guarantees) ... post one.

But if you want to see how it's really suppose to be done, just go here.

Now how come it always looks so cool when other people do it?


xformed said...

first: Congratulations on your first taste of flight without power...Second: Thanks for the link.

Third: It looks cool, because we do it again, and again, and again, and then again, and you don't get into big dives like that, unless you have done it a lot, and people will let the organizers know you are a smart, safety conscious jumper.

In other words, they have lots of practice. The early jumps...well, many look not so cool...:) been hanging onto a few not so cool jumpers who became so later on...with repetition.

My advice: The first one is so new, you missed many things (brain couldn't handle it all), so...if you kinda liked it, try it again, then decide.

:) I bet you grinned in freefall...:)

MMC said...

Nope, I can promise you I didn't. All I did was desperately try to gasp some air into my lungs. Which apparently, although they are suppose to be able to breathe just fine, were positive they couldn't. No smiling there, I was honestly terrified.

But once I was a few days away from it, I considered that although I had no desire to do it again, I could do it if I had to. My 13 year old wanted to jump me with me but I told her she had to be old enough to sign her own waiver. So if she ever wanted me to go with her as an adult, I would do it. At least I would know what to expect. And I would work on strengthening my core muscles beforehand.

BTW I didn't know you were a skydiver until I read your response to my comment. Very cool :D

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry that things didn't work out for you like you hoped. It can be terrifying to be out of control like that, but, it is not your fault. It is ENTIRELY the fault of the guy you jumped with. He has total control during the jump and if you were doing somersaults, it's because HE wanted to. He should of asked you what you wanted to do during your jump also it's unsafe to deploy your chute if you are not in a stable position. As far as "Arching" goes, all you have to do is extend your extremities and the wind resistance will put you in the proper position.
It sounds to me that they didn't give you a very good orientation.


virgil xenophon said...

Gee Whiz, sorry to hear, Michelle. Should have been a "fun" thing--or at least more fun than THAT. And unkawill is right--just extend yourself, nature and the laws of physics do the rest.

BTW, having just used the phrase "the laws of physics" a funny thought just popped into my head. Did you ever watch the cartoon series "Pinky and the Brain?" It was on about a decade ago--was about 2 Lab rats who due to radiation experiments could not only talk, but one, "The Brain," (he of out-sized head the result of some excess radiation ) was possessed of prodigious intelligence who kept plotting to "take over the world" with hair-brained Rube Goldberg-like schemes. Was produced by Steven Spielberg for an adult audience and was hilarious. I have a funny story about "the laws of physics" from one of the segments--but helps greatly if you're familiar with the cartoon series. Are you? If so I'll ramble on, otherwise slink away.

virgil xenophon said...

PS-You might sample it on you tube to get a flavor otherwise as they have several episodes up.

tam said...

told ya not to do it. I'm sharing this post with hubby so he can get it out of his foolish head too.

That being said, I'm so proud of you! I would never be brave enough to do something like that and I know you've wanted to do it forever, so good for you!

love ya.

MMC said...

Hey Tam, I'm not so sure that's fair. I figure I might be close to the only person in the history of the universe who jumped and hated it. So you better share that with him too, just to be fair.

Thanks, guys, it's interesting. I had been assuming that I was the reason we tumbled, because I couldn't arch the way they kept pounding into our heads. In fact I even asked Moo (after he asked me how I liked the free fall) if we had tumbled because I couldn't arch. He didn't answer me straight on, just said something like No, it's all good. I said I thought that was my fault but I don't think he answered me.

That was one thing I actually had the sene to think of during the free fall, unka, that he wouldn't be able to deploy the shoot unless we were stable so he was going to have to do something. I sure as hell couldn't. BTW we were strictly told not to extend ourselves during the free fall - it was hands clasped at chest and knees bent with feet up behind you. Maybe so they could do whatever they want? I dunno....

Virgil, I have heard of Pinky and the Brain but never seen it. Go ahead and tell your law of physics story anyway.

Kris, in New England said...

At least you can always say you did it. That you faced your fears and conquered them.

The fact that the experience sucked won't ever take that away from you.


virgil xenophon said...


It goes like this: The Brain, in one of his complex schemes/plots to take over the world cons sappy hippy types to join hands in a linked friends-of-the earth/peace-in our-time human fence coast to coast as a protest gesture. Then, using high-powered radio waves beams coded signal into fillings of the teeth of first guy--who transmits the msg to next via natural electro-static charge of the body's skin and thence to the next, etc., until he (the Brain) has a zombie army of millions across the nation ready to do his bidding to take over the US and then the world. But something goes awry (as it ALWAYS does) and scheme fails. In the post-mortem on this latest failure, the Brain lectures Pinky (an otherwise dullard lab rat with Cockney accent and quick wit to match, and an idiot savant-like ability to ask "stupid" questions that inadvertently go the heart of the matter.) using a black-board filled with physics equations upon which radio-wave scheme was based, exclaiming: "Pinky, the laws of Physics explain ALL!" To which Pinky replies innocently: "Oh, so do the Laws of Physics explain why Donny and Marie Osmond now have a national prime-time variety TV show, then?" At which point the Brain draws himself up to his full height and exclaims in deep stenatorian tones: "Pinky, there are SOME things that not even the Laws of Physics can explain!" LOL!!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Michelle! The fact that you had the guts to do it just blows me away! :) Of course I do have a thing about heights which may explain my feelings. The free fallaing part is the part which would terrify me most - I would open the parachute and then try to enjoy 'floating' down. Ha! Shows how much I know about it :)
So, although you did not enjoy it this time, I suspect you would if you do it again. You have grown in stature as far as I'm concerned!

doorkeeper said...

WOW. Oh, My, WORD!!!
I felt it...all of it, as you told it. Fortunately, only a little bit...I'd have been absolutely nauseous, too. Terrible feeling. The somersaults would have done it for me. wow.
so proud of you for doing it.
wish I'd been there for pics....
wish it had been fun. well, maybe not, because then you would want to do it again, and your next vacation should be to PA.

MMC said...

Hey doorkeeper, good to see you back again. I hope I don't have to keep jumping out of aircraft just to get you to visit! :D

So what are you telling me? I can't skydivein PA?!

Michelle said...

thank you for taking the time to watch my video and for leaving a comment!

Wow - jumping out of a plane! That is just something I could never do, and reading your experience confirms that for me :) But at least you can say you've done it now!

Wilko said...

Hat tip to you Michelle for following through. It took no small amount of courage on your part.
As for my son: He tried it two days after you did but was excited enough to want to do it again.