Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Jumpin' Out of Planes #Skydiving

Jumpin out of planes
July 17, 2011
East Troy, WI

This isn't a drunk diary but more of an amazing experience my friends and I had on one 
casual sunday...

        My eyes open as the sound of No Women, No Cry fills my room from my phone alarm …5:45am. I get up, turn it off, and fall back asleep. Sorry Mr. Marley, I would normally bask in the glory of that song, but right now, I want sleepy time. Wake up again to faint sound of a… “Watrruuudoiin”. I look up, scratch my eyes, and see some type of dark-skinned Indian standing next to the bed. John is standing over me, showered up and ready to go. What?? John is up and ready to go? Its 6am, John is non-functional before 9am; he doesn’t know how to wake up before that time. First time I’ve ever been woken up by Johnny. He has a glass of Sunny D, a Special K bar, and a yogurt. And you made breakfast John? You’re on top of your shit right now.

        I toss some clothes on, brush my teeth, and toss some water on my hair… fuck showering. John and I say goodbye to Linds and Febes, and we head off to the ATM in Hartland to meet up with the Kohl bros and Mista Clarence. I hit up the ATM to get some cash and all of a sudden, I see Jordan dancing up and down in front of the car, just jacked up to jump out of a fucking plane. So Jake and Jordan hop in the car, and out comes the greens. What time is it again?? Ooo yeah that’s right, its 6:45am right now, wowzas. Tarrence comes zooming into the parking lot frantically, because we were supposed to meet at the Park-and-Ride in Delafied but changed it last minute. John thought Jordan talked to Tarrence, and Jordan thought John talked to Tarrence…ipso facto… Tarrence was left out of the loop. Sorry Mista Clarence, miss-communication.

        We all hop in John’s Volvo and start heading to East Troy where the skydiving place was. When we left, we had just enough time to get there by 7:30am. Once we left the parking lot, we sparked up. I took one rip out of that piece, and I was rippitty ripped. I think it was because it was so early in the morning and my body isn’t used to getting stupidman high before 7am. I look in the mirror….hieediee hoo…take me to funky town, and call me towlie, cuz my eyes are redder than the devil’s dick. We kiesh the bowl and everyone concurs that we are gonna have to make a quick pitstop at McDonalds. Haha. Typical. Skydiving can wait for an Egg McMuffin Sammy. 

Drive-thru of McDonalds

        We get our McDonalds and it tasted like ‘God’s Vagina’. Fucking delicious. Tarrence packs up another one…oooo boy, this will be the death of me. I’m just chilling in the front seat watching all the nature around me, taking in the scenery, because this could be the last time I ever see it again. I wanted to be thinking positive about skydiving, but there is always a chance that something can go wrong.

        We pull up into the parking lot, and a feeling comes across all of us. This is it. It’s for real now. We're going fucking skydiving today. My heart starts beating faster and faster, I’m fidgety, nervous, excited,and... baked out of my mind. We meet Justin, Curtis, and Nick there. Gus and his crew are a little behind. We walk into the place and head to the front counter. The guy behind the counter gives us all a little shpeal on the dive, hands us some clip boards, and then says, “Alright, who are the first three people that want to jump?” Nick and Curtis say they will go, and then John chimes in and says he will go with them. It was supposed to be Nick, Curtis, and Justin, and then John, Tarrence, and me but John was being John... just kinda clueless as to what was going on. Watevs, it will all be the same in the end. The guy says, “Ok. So you three? Come with me.”

        They grab their clipboards and go into the video room, while the rest of us go outside and start filling out our ‘If you die, it’s not our fault’ forms. That’s when it started to hit home, when you were filling out this paper work, basically signing your life away. Kind of scary. Gus and his crew of people arrive, go through the same process we did, and start filling their paperwork out with us. I meet Bobby... bobby has never been on a plane before. Ever. Never been on one, but today he’s going to ride in one, and then jump out of it. Fuckin' baller status right there. As we're getting our paperwork finished and signing my legal rights away, John is getting strapped up in a harness. I thought that this was going to be an all day event, I thought we wouldn't be jumping until at least noon. We would get there, fill out paperwork, go sit in on an hour video, get hands on instruction for another hour or two, practice for another hour, and then go up in the plane. Nope. They get you in the air as fast as they can, and in retrospect, there really wasn’t that much instruction that you needed to know.

        We get everything filled out, so Jordan, Jake, Justin, Tarrence, and I head outside to the viewing area. It was called the ‘Raven’s Nest’ and it was a really nice elevated patio on the roof of the equiptment room. It had grills and picnic benches, and there was an indoor A/C part that had TV’s and whatnot. If you looked in a certain direction you would be able to see people skydiving and watch their parachutes deploy. As we are taking in all of this, we hear over the intercom, “Pack two…5 min... pack two... 5 min until departure.” We look down and see John is already suited up with Nick and Curtis getting ready to head on over to the plane. Holy shit, He’s about to go right now!

        We watch as John gets on the plane, and within five minutes, the plane disappears over the grassy hill. We watch the plane take off in the distance and John is in the air. I’m like, “holy duck fuck, this shit is actually happening.” The plane gets smaller and smaller as it rises into the atmosphere away from us, until it is nowhere to be seen. We go back inside and get our names on the list because we want to go next; I don’t want to have to wait and get super anxious and nervous, let’s do this shit right now. Jordan, Jake, and their pops, Jim, are the next ones up. Shit. Oh well, at least we will be able to go third. No biggy.

        Jordan, Jake, and Jim go with their instructors to suit up. Shit this is going fast, I thought there was going to be somewhat of a build up…not a chance. Tarrence, Justin, and I go to the Raven’s Nest and watch John free fall from 13,500 feet. I am anxiously watching…please open the chute, please open the chute. All of a sudden, a colorful chute deploys and I exhale as my heart slows down.

        John, Nick, and Curtis all land safely, and then hop on a golf cart to get escorted back to the equipment room. All of them are on the golf cart with the biggest smiles on their faces, their eyes were bulging out of their heads. We run down to the equipment room and all ask them how it was. They all start talking at once, their voices filled with excitement, “Dude it was the most intense thing ever! So insane! So fucking awesome!” I ask John, “So Johnny! How was it, was it really scary?”

     John is twitchy, out of breath, holding his forehead, “Dude, I think I blacked out…I don’t remember what happened.”

        I started geeking out. Ahh classic. They said that would probably happen. You have so much adrenaline that after your jump, you have no idea what you saw or heard. John now knows the color of fear from skydiving... brown. 
Jordan & Jake about to head out to the plane

        As we keep talking to them about it, Jordan, Jake, and Jim walk by all geared up ready to go. Jordan is jumping up and down with adrenaline, and after seeing him and hearing about John’s jump, I started to get real stoked. I was getting stoked like it was my day job. We watch as Jordan, Jake, and Jim head to the plane to go. As this is happening, over the intercom, they instruct Tarrence, Justin, and I to head inside to meet our instructors.

     Main guy- “Ok, Tarrence, you have Kermit…Alex, you have Shue…and Justin, You have Homebrew.”

        I never knew what a skydiving bro was like, but now I know. My guy was pretty cool, Justin’s guy, Homebrew, had a gigantic beer gut…looked like he was 8 months pregnant, and Tarrence’s guy was….a douche bag. Tarrence’s guy, Kermit, was like 5’4’’, I couldn’t wait to see them tandem dive, just big ‘ol lanky-ass Tarrence, with a little mini me on his back. We get suited up and head on out to the field and wait for Jordan, Jake, and Jim to return from their jump.

Justin, Tarrence, and I 

        They all land safely and come on back on the golf cart. They are all just yelling as they drive by, “SO SICK!! O MY GOD!!”

        We walk out to the plane, and wait for it to be refueled. We sit on the bench next to the plane and the plane is loud and windy, and my heart starts beating faster and faster. I was trying to keep calm, but I had so much adrenaline coursing through my veins, it was inevitable. We walk up to the plane and climb in. There are just two benches and we straddled it in front of our instructors, so they could clip us in on the ride up. I am the last person on the bench about 3 feet away from the door that you jump out of. The plane starts rolling and gets on the runway path. We have to taxi for around eight minutes, and the plane was getting really hot. I started sweating, and I looked back and saw Tarrence and Justin just sweating balls.

        We take off, and I watch the ground get further and further away…100ft down…300ft down…800ft down…1000ft down. Ok...there is no turning back now. All of a sudden, at like 2000ft, my camera lady opens the door... a gust of air slaps me in the face, sounds of wind howl through the cabin, and all I can see is blue skies. I am three feet away from this door, I was too rebellious to put a seatbelt on, my instructor hasn’t hooked me in yet, I am basically three feet away from death. I look up to my left, find a hand railing, grab onto it with a death grip. I’m not dieing today.

Shue and I at about 10,000 feet 
        We keep climbing…and climbing…and climbing, and the suspense and anxiety start to build up.The pilot says that we are at an altitude of 12,000 feet. My instructor starts strapping my harness to his. He's asking me, "Have you ever been this close to another man before?" I say, "No, but I've never felt more comfortable." Tighter please. I want to be one with ‘the Shue’. The pilot says that we are at 13,500 feet, then the plane slows down a little. I am looking at the lights, it goes from Red to Yellow. They open the door up again (they closed it to do an interview), and a wind tunnel of fear fills the cabin. I look down and we're so high in the air, you can only see faint signs of the ground. The light goes from yellow to green. The camera lady and Shue both turn and look at me, as if to say, 'you're turn little buddy'. Ohh shittt. My instructor tells me to shimmy my way to the door and hang my legs over the edge. Ya that won’t be scary…My heart is racing a million miles an hour as I get closer and closer to the edge. I throw my feet over the edge and my legs are being blown by the 100mph winds from the plane. I grab onto the railing above me, but Shue tells me to cross my arms. I am sitting there on the brink of what could be death. From this point on, all of my trust goes into my instructor, the equipment, and the big man upstairs. Shue says we are going to rock forward, rock back, and then roll out of the plane. We rock forward and my head is looking straight down from 13,500 feet. My eyes open wide as I am looking down into absolutely nothing but the atmosphere. We rock backwards, I look to my right and toss a ‘later bro’ sign to Tarrence and Justin, and then rock forward into the abyss.
later bro

        HOOOLLLYYY SHIIIITTT!!!!! I’m looking straight down at the clouds, my face is getting rocked by wind, and I’m accelerating towards the earth at 32.2ft/s^2. I can’t even hear myself scream, “OHHHH FUCCCKKK YAAA BRO!!” Shue spins us round and round, I thought to myself, if this goes wrong and I die, I’m gonna go out having a hell of a time. I can’t stop smiling, as I float through sky. I have a real sensation of gravity. I can feel it push me and pull me through the air in different directions. You really didn’t have any perspective as to how fast you were going because there was no reference to go off of. You were dropping from tens of thousands of feet and it was nothing but space. So much fucking space. Just swimming through a sea of blue skies. Your entire life, you are grounded to the earth. Every moment of your life you are touching the earth, think about it. But here, you aren’t grounded to anything, zip, nothing. You aren’t touching anything and you are using pure force of gravity to propel you through the air. An unbelievable, indescribable feeling that you can only get from this experience. You start off with the potential energy of around 4.5 million Joules, freefalling through the Earth’s atmosphere at 120mph with nothing but this backpack that deploys a couple of strings and a blanket to save your life. It's like committing suicide...without the dying part, fucking incredible.

free-falling at 120mph

        Shue puts the altimeter in front of my face which is his signal to reach back and deploy the parachute. I reach back, and I can’t grab a hold of it…it’s flailing all over the place and I can’t grab it. Shue grabs my hand and we pull it together. A faint slow down feeling is followed by a gigantic sensation of being pulled upwards, follows. All the blood rushed from my head down to my feet extremely fast. Within seconds the camera lady is already hundreds of feet below us, flying so fast downwards. The parachute wobbles around a little bit and then levels out. I am out of breath, heart pumping out of my chest, feeling light headed, shaking with adrenaline, “Oh my god. That was the coolest fucking thing I’ve ever done.” I take a huge sigh of relief, yessss, my parachute opened…wooo!! I sit there suspended by a harness, looking down over East Troy, WI. He grabs the handles that controls the parachute, and hand them to me. He is telling me what to do.

    “Pull as hard as you can on the right one.”

        I yank the thing down, and our parachute quickly dips to the right, and starts spiraling down to the right accelerating faster and faster. The parachute had an unbelievable amount of control. I sit there as the sun is halfway up the sky, a cool breeze hits my face, and I sit there on top of the world. Fucking majestic. 
parachute deploys....o thank god

        We start getting closer and closer to the ground…400ft…200ft…100ft. We come in for the landing; I keep my legs up and we slide in the grass safely. An unbelievable amount of joy comes across me. I’m safe, I’m safe, success. Justin and Tarrence safely land close by and Justin is so relieved. He throws the baseball umpire sign of ‘safe’ and just blurts out inbetwen gasps of air, “Fucking safe….fucking safe…holy fucking shit…. I’m fucking safe.”

        I shake my instructors hand for the unbelievable experience, head to the equipment room to take off my harness and get my certificate. I have a headache, but my body and mentality were in a total state of euphoria. It was such a crazy feeling- a surge of pure adrenaline, relief to be on the ground, exhilaration from the freefall, and joy from the entire experience.

        I walk up the stairs to the Ravens Nest and am greeted with a bottle of beer by John and Jordan. “HOW FUCKING AWESOME WAS THAT!” I didn’t even know what to say, there were so many emotions, I was speachless. We all were so stoked from adrenaline we kept saying, “Oh my gosh, I have so much adrenaline, I need to do something... like do jumping jacks, or punch infants.”

        God forbid there was a nursery around, we would have gone on a baby punching spree. I'm sorry baby, I have wayyy too much adrenaline not to not punch you.

        There were brats and burgers on the grill being fried up. We sit there and watch as the rest of the group went sky diving, while we ate brats and burgers, and drank beer. It felt like we had conquered something great, overcame fear, overcame physics…overcame death.

        Over the intercom we hear, “There is no alcohol allowed on the premise during jumping hours, I repeat…no alcohol on the property.” I think they are directing that towards us. I’m sure they looked at all of our forms we filled out, looked at the ‘age’ column and just saw….20…20…20…20…20…and of course Tarrence, 21. We polished off the rest of our beer and threw it away. 

the descent...

        Tarrence and I still wanted to drink, so we went to the car, grabbed a McD’s cup, grabbed the Admirals, and there was chaser in the Ravens Nest. We sit on the picnic table, toss in a fatty squad, and share a mixer. Mayo is the last one to go, and we just sit and watch all their reactions as they get done and come up to the Nest. Everyone had such a great experience, everyone loved every minute of it.

        We say goodbye to everyone, I thanked Gus for being assertive and taking the initiative to actually organize and go through with this event. We walk to the car and we all are so happy that today went well and everyone enjoyed themselves. We sit in the car, listen to the sweet sounds of 53 Chill on XM radio and watch our videos of our dives. It was so cool to see everyone’s dives and what they did. Thank god John got a video, because he completely forgot what had happened. Everyone had their own unique reactions when jumping out of the plane, it was so cool.

        I jumped out of a plane by 11:00am today, what the fuck did you do? Probably still sleeping you scrub, learn how to be a boss before noon. I sit in the backseat watching the trees again, lucky to be alive, safe and sound. Feeling empowered, I thought, if I could stand in an open airplane doorway two-and-a-half miles above the ground and will myself to step into empty space, then I could do anything.

live to die another day
Click on the video to pause/play it 

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