Skydiving seems to be a popular item on many people’s bucket list and it certainly was at the top of my own list of things to do before I die. However never did I imagine crossing one of the staple items on my bucket list off just shortly before graduating college
It was March 15, 2014 when my boyfriend Perry, a recent Slippery Rock graduate, asked me to take a leap of faith with him… literally. Perry surprised me with two skydiving tickets for Skydive Pennsylvania in Grove City, Pa.
“Let’s do it,” Perry said with enthusiasm. We had always talked about the idea of skydiving, and like most, we had spent a considerable amount of time just chalking it off as something on our bucket list that we may or may not get to eventually.
However, even with the skydiving tickets now in hand, I spent the next month or so with the casual idea that the day was drawing nearer for me to be jumping out of a plane at 13,500 feet.
It was March 27, 2014 when reality sunk in. As Perry and I pulled into the parking lot of Skydive Pennsylvania we were greeted by the friendly staff and I was immediately surprised as to how casual the entire process was. I expected a lengthy training with detailed rules, regulations and safety procedures, but in reality, our initiation process was far simpler. Perry and I watched a short video about the process of skydiving as we initialed and signed every dotted line and then one of the staff members talked to us for just a few minutes about some of the diving procedure.
“Cross your arms and kick your tandem-jumper in the butt… oh, and don’t forget to breathe,” the staff member told us. Perry and I nervously chuckled at how nonchalant her instructions were.
Perry and I joined ten others on the plane. As I climbed up the rungs of the ladder, I didn’t know what to expect inside the aircraft. The plane was equipped with two benches, one on each side. We all filed in, straddling the benches, and my instructor began explaining to me what was about to happen. He made me feel really comfortable and excited, and as the plane took off and we continued to climb in elevation, my heart started fluttering with excitement.
“What day is it?!” “It’s jump day!” said my instructor with enthusiasm.
And just like that, the small door on the side of the plane flung open, the wind circulated through the plane and the men and women who had once been seated just in front of me, were now each catapulting out into the open sky. Perry and I high-fived and wished each other luck.
It was my turn.
Sitting with my knees over the edge of the plane door with my arms crossed tightly across my chest, it felt as if all reality, fear and doubt had fleeted my body. Strangely enough, I have never felt braver.
“Ready, set, go!”
And with those simple instructions, my instructor and I began our 90 second free fall at 13,500 feet traveling approximately 120 mph.
The surge that was soaring through my body was nothing like the stomach drop of a roller coaster; it was much bigger than that. The adrenaline was out of this world. As fast as we were traveling, it felt as if time and the rest of world were standing still.
I never felt more alive.
After the minute and a half of pure intensity, my instructor pulled the parachute open and I spent the next ten minutes or so in complete bliss. Not wanting to waste a second, I didn’t even want to blink. The view was absolutely beautiful. As we floated through the air, my instructor pointed out Slippery Rock, Grove City and even Moraine State park. He encouraged me to look up, look down and look ahead and to soak everything in, so I did just that. I don’t think I have ever smiled so much in my life. When you are in the sky floating through the air, it’s so peaceful and surreal; it’s unlike anything else in this world. I found a true appreciation for life during my time in the sky.
Our landing was smooth, my instructor told me to kick up my legs and we glided in a seated position into the landing area, again I was amazed at how easy the whole process was.
With the sun beaming on our backs, we unfastened our harnesses and took off our helmets and goggles. My eyes immediately swelled with tears, I was completely overwhelmed with emotions at what had just happened, it was a feeling not like any other.
After just a few short minutes, Perry landed behind me and I ran and wrapped my arms around him, it was amazing to be able to share such an amazing experience with him. As we both tried to put into words what we had just experienced, the whole skydiving staff surrounded us with hugs and congratulatory words. Smiling ear to ear, Perry and I both acknowledged that we had officially crossed skydiving off our bucket list, together.
Life is an adventure that is filled with endless opportunities, if you chose to take them. My only regret about skydiving is not doing it sooner. As college students, we are so focused on tomorrow, or what is coming next, that we take little time to appreciate what is now, what is right around us.