February 11, 2020
I’m not always an impulsive person, but when I am, I go big. Go big or go home, right?
My parents and two of my brothers had already been to Hawaii, so we had a bunch of great recommendations from them. Eat at Cheeseburger in Paradise. Visit Pearl Harbor. Climb Diamond Head. Go Skydiving. Okay, that last one was from my older brother. He went skydiving in Hawaii and had a blast! You could tell just from the pictures and video that it was exhilarating.
In the back of my mind, I thought it might be fun to go skydiving. It’s one of those things you say you might do one day, but never actually do it. When we planned our trip to Hawaii, skydiving was not part of that plan. I didn’t make up my mind to go skydiving until we were in Hawaii. Like I had to go out and buy socks the night before because I didn’t pack socks or tennis shoes. The skydiving place had tennis shoes you could borrow, but I definitely wanted my own socks.
We woke up early to drive to the North Shore to the Pacific Skydiving Center. I was anxious the entire hour and a half drive. Did I really want to do this? Is it as safe as they say it is? I kept saying morbid things to Weston like, “Well, I guess this is the last time we’re going to see each other,” and “good thing you have life insurance on me.” I know it’s not the nicest thing, but it’s how I deal with stress!
When we arrived, I was required to fill out a waiver and watch an instructional video. They asked if I wanted to jump at 10,000 feet or 14,000 feet… definitely 14,000! I mean, I wouldn’t have anything to compare it to, so I might as well do the highest one! Plus, you get to free fall for a full minute instead of just 20 seconds.
Weston was able to sit with me while we waited for my turn. We got to watch a dozen people jump before me and we saw them pack up the parachutes. Everything seemed pretty safe. It calmed my nerves, but I could tell Weston was a basket case inside.
Then they called my name. I got to meet my tandem jumper (Dennis) and photographer/videographer (Kelly). You better believe I paid extra for the photo package. I needed proof that I went skydiving! And I’m a photographer, so of course I wanted photos for myself.
While we waited for the plane to return, I asked Dennis all kinds of questions. How many times have you jumped? Have you ever had a parachute fail? Have you ever had the backup parachute fail? I’m positive I got on his nerves, but I had to know that he was highly skilled. He was. I knew I would be safe with him. After all, he’s pretty motivated to keep himself alive as well.
As we boarded the plane, all my anxiety melted away. I clearly remember gazing out the window and thinking, “I’m about to jump out of a plane,” as if it were no big deal. Once we reached our goal altitude, jumpers began waddling toward the open door of the plane. I watched the first jumper simply disappear almost as soon as he got to the door. Cool. That would be me in a minute.
We made it to the open door. No turning back. We waddled our bodies toward the open air. Are you ready? One… two… three… JUMP! This was it! It was nothing like I thought it would be and it was everything I needed. The rush I felt was indescribable. Hair was flying everywhere. My skin was literally flapping. It. was. AMAZING! The views were breathtaking. I could see the curvature of the horizon. The water was glistening shades of green and blue.
Once Dennis deployed the parachute, it was suddenly quiet. I didn’t realize how loud the air was while we were free-falling until we stopped and gently floated toward the ground. Even though landing is the most dangerous part of skydiving, it felt like the hard part was over. I took in the scenic views and started processing the fact that I just went skydiving. I did it!
As soon as we landed, I was ready to do it again. They say you forget the names of the people you tandem jump with, but I didn’t. Dennis and Kelly were so much fun and there’s no way I could forget them! If you want to see video of my jump, you can see it here! (Skip to 1:01 if you only want to see the skydiving!)
Ashley, that is aaamazing! Thanks for sharing. It was just beautiful.
Thank you so much!
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