Saturday, May 8, 2010

Six Thousand Feet and Climbing

Oh My God I Can Fly - Part Two
by June Botkin

Saturday morning comes early, 5:30 a.m. and another overcast day.  I am leaving tomorrow and this has become an obsession.  Another small coffee and a bagel and we head off with my Last Will and Testament and code status in my backpack and my determination growing.  This time there are no driving mistakes and we make good time and arrive at the airfield at 7:30.  There are a few clouds, but it looks like it is going to be a very nice day.  My friend turns to me and says that I don't have to do this that I can walk away any time, but in my heart I know I have to do this and it will be a life changing experience.

Parked beside us is a van of young Chinese tourists from yesterday who have the same idea as me.  Three boys and a girl and they are all trying to bolster each others courage. We all head into the clubhouse to wait.  Soon the master divers begin to arrive and more people wanting to try this skydiving thing.  The energy is infectious and soon I am visiting with the pros who keep saying once you do this you will be back for more.

A dive schedule for the first jump is posted on the office window and I casually walk over to see who I am jumping with and who will be my photographer.  The Chinese group is now getting suited up with their harnesses and heading to a truck to take them to the plane.  I am still waiting wondering when my turn will coome.  I find out I am in the second load with the pros who are going to be doing a hot hop and some who are going to be doing some aerobatics.  We will jump last after they exit the plane.

Soon my dive master arrives and drops a harness in my hands and says jokingly, put that on and I will be right back.  Little did he know that I have worn a climbing harness for years as a scaffolder.  He and the other pros are surprised that I know how to put it on and the next thing you know I am one step closer to my jump.  Just then the loud speaker crackles to life - jumpers in 5 - and everyone looks to the heavens.  This is the Chinese group but they are no where in sight.  Soon some of the colourful chutes break through the clouds.  They did it!  I watch them land and see the smiles on their faces just as Wyatt nudges me and says its time to go.

Wyatt is going to be my tandem partner, the person who I have to trust to get us safely back to the ground.  I walk through the fence into the restricted area as my friend waves goodbye and readies her camera.  The plane is waiting at the end of the runway and there is a small set of steps.  The pros are clamoring to get into the plane and off the ground; they can't wait to get airborne!  I am straddling a bench right beside the door that soon will prove to be an amazing view of the ground.  Once everyone is inside, the pilot revs up the engines and speeds down the taxiway headed for the end of the runway.  A quick turn onto the runway and the next thing I know we are airborne and the thought of what the hell am I doing starts to race through my head.  There is also a tangible excitement coursing through my body.

One pro jumps at a low elevation, about 6,000 feet, this is the hot hop.  We circle and watch him fall and the guys start to say why is he not opening his chute?  Finally his parachute opens and we begin to climb again.  This time it will be to 14,000 feet which is the height I will be jumping from.  We climb through the clouds and all landmasses disappear.  All that remains is a white fluffy blanket of clouds below us.  The pilot informs us that there will be only one pass and everyone must get out of the plane.  The pros first, then Wyatt, Farmer, the camera man and of course me.  The pros line up on the door ledge, four people holding onto each other then they just fall and are gone from my view.  Before I have time to think three more people run through the plane and dive out the door and are gone. 

Now it is my turn!

I don't know about you but right now I'd be feeling more impending doom than excitement.  I admire someone that could jump - me I'd be welded to that plane.  Part three tomorrow...      Ryshia

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