Back in '78 I was a freshman at OU and had a suite-mate from Ecuador. He was a cocky kid and basically dared me to jump. No problem there so to celebrate my 18th year of being we got a group together and headed off to the Green County diving center. Back in '78 the world was a far less litigious place (though there was the form signing away any and all liability on the operator’s part) and so after a short (less than 2 hours) training session we were in the air. (With fairness to complete disclosure I was a bit ‘suicidal/depressed’ having at that time not figured out that I was gay so there was no big ‘ooooooops-what if it doesn’t open’ conflict). The plane had the wings above the fuselage and when it came time to jump (at 3,000 feet) you climbed out onto the strut held on for a moment until they said ‘jump’. As stated, things were different in '78 and there were no tandem jumps. It was just you. And when you jumped (just let go of the strut) your static line was pulled and off you went. The first bit I just recall a grey blurriness-it’s a bit disorienting. Then the realization that you’re floating-the plane long gone. I recall the silence and the amazing breathtaking beauty of the whole thing. I was floating over cornfields (above birds flying below) and farms with cows. It was fall and as such the colors were in full blaze. I figured out how to ‘steer’ myself and treated my self to several 360 panoramic spins. Surreally off in the distance were the cooling towers to some distant nuclear plant. As I got closer I could actually hear the cows. Then I had to rember and concentrate on where to land and managed to pretty much bulls-eye it-avoiding landing in the corn stalks. Stefano (the Ecuadorian) landed not soon after and congratulated me on completing the ‘dare’. He said that he expected me to be panicked on facing the jump and was amazed that I had no fear at all. Which was news to me as climbing out onto a plane’s wing struts at 3,000 feet was not exactly staus quo in my life. The head-rush of that jump lasted for hours.
Two things to remember: They told us not to look down when you land-very counter-intuitive. But of course I did look and then instantly realized why the admonition. When you are very close to landing the ground rushes at you and it is extremely disorienting. Take heed. Second thing to remember? They taught us landing by having us jump off a 3-foot high platform and keeping our ankles loose. They were right. Landing was no more stressful than that.
And I had no obligations. If I had a wife and kids to support I’d think twice and make sure my life insurance would cover an accident-CHECK-because often sky diving is NOT covered.