OK, it's time to get this show on the road.
Take notice of the red bandanna tied around my leg. This was so the Quail Run spectators could pick me out as
I hurtled towards earth I came in for a landing.
Now I know how Britney Spears feels!
Mateo comes in for one last photo-op.
It's time to get on the shuttle to go out to the plane.
goodbye so long!
All aboard! I'm smiling but boy o boy, if you could read my thoughts!
OK, so I'm on the plane and we're packed in like sardines. We were the first ones on so we went to the front of the plane and sat down on a long hard bench behind the pilot. Wes is across the aisle taking video of me and Mateo and of the others on the plane. So we're all settled and we were packed in! Now my anxiety attack begins. This nylon outfit I'm wearing is hot on top of the warm weather we're having and the harness is TIGHT! I'm EXTREMELY claustrophobic! I'm wedged in between Mateo and this big guy next to me. Their arms are resting in front of mine! I'm pinned! OH NO! This isn't good. I can't breathe! I told myself, big breaths, deep breaths.... Wes saw I was having a hard time and kept asking me if I was OK. You'll see on the video when its posted that I keep saying "I'm Ok" but to myself I'm saying, "Snookie, what the hell are you doing?"
The plane seems to take no time at all to climb up into the sky.
Mateo tells me to turn sideways on the seat keeping one foot on the floor and putting my right leg on the bench and keep my knee bent and foot flat on the bench. Is he nuts? In this outfit? With this tight harness on? Somehow I do it. Oh no! A cramp in my leg! I manage to reposition and it goes away. Whew! Mateo is starting to hook our harnesses together now and I'm concerned that the hooks won't hold. He assures me that the hooks will hold 2500 pounds. Good! That makes me feel better! He tightens the harness more. Geez Louise, Mateo, you're cutting off my air!
Another plane comes up next to us and starts discharging its
fools that are jumping out of a perfectly good plane passengers. Mateo says with joy in his voice, "Look Snookie, in a few minutes that will be us! I started praying.
OK, we're close to the drop zone. (WoW, I never thought I'd type those words!) The people on the other side of the plane will go first. Mateo is giving me instructions on what to do when its our turn. He tells me when we get to the
gaping hole in the side of the plane door that he'll tell me to get into a catcher's stance and then to cross my arms in front of me. At this point we'll start the "count" and we'll rock back and forth on each number. And remember to keep your back arched! OK, I've got this. Next he takes my hand and puts it on what feels like a golf ball that is attached to his waist. He says that when he gives me the signal after we jump that I should reach for that and pull hard! When I do the parachute will open. WWHHHAAATTTT? I'm opening the chute??? You're giving ME that responsibility? He assures me that if I have a problem he'll help me. He better or I'm gonna be really mad if we free fall all the way back to earth! We've reached the proper altitude now, 13,000 feet. Got that??? 13,000 FEET!
My plane is starting to empty. Mateo says we have to scoot down the length of the bench now. I'm thinking to myself, "Mateo, I'm in a skintight suit, with a harness that is cutting off my air, I have a leg that can go into a muscle cramp at any second again, my heart is beating a thousand beats a minute, I can see human beings in front of me fall out of sight and you want me to scoot darn near the length of plane with a 200 pound man attached to me?" But scoot I did. Actually, he pushed from behind I just kinda went along for the ride.
We're next. Wes, the video guy goes out but hangs on to the side of plane so he can film us jump. Just how does one hang on to the side of plane at this speed?
We stand up and we're in front of the door. Mateo tightens the harness yet again. There's too much happening at this point for me to feel fear. In fact, at this point I'm not feeling anything. I listen intently for instructions and just do as I'm told. Then I hear, "Catcher" and I automatically went into the stance. Next came, "Cross your arms" and I did that. He then yells over the roar of the plane engine and wind, "Count". ONE and we rock, TWO and we rock again. I was intent on rocking for the third time but Mateo pushed us out of the plane at two and a half! WAIT! isn't everything always on the count of three? What happened to three? I paid for a count of three!
We started falling. "Mateo, grab the doorway, I wanna go back, I changed my mind! Too late! We're falling at 120 miles per hour! I've never been in a car that traveled 120 MPH and here I am free falling at that speed.
I honestly can't describe the feeling that falling that fast gives you. Its terrifying and its exhilarating, all at the same time. It's not a feeling I want to experience again, I can tell you that!
I didn't even feel the little chute open.
Mateo kept yelling "SMILE!" and "GIVE A THUMBS UP!"
OK, so this isn't so bad, I managed to wave and give a thumbs up and I even smiled. Then Mateo did me wrong! He put us into a spin. I watched the different colored squares on the earth go round and round and round. Oh darn, I forgot to tell him I get seasick, car sick if I'm in the back seat and that I can't do amusement park rides like I used to. I want down and I want down NOW! Think about it, we're falling at 120 MPH and spinning in a circle at the same time! I'm not feeling too good at this point. I'm yelling, "Don't do that!" meaning the spinning. (When you see the video you can read my lips when I say that!)
Here we are in the spin.
I can't post anymore pictures of this spinning, I'm getting queasy all over again. You'll have to trust me that we went around and around and around. Excuse me while I go outside and get some air. I'll be back in a few minutes.
OK, I'm back. So we're falling, falling, falling and I finally get the signal that its time to pull the chute open. YES! He can't spin me anymore! I search frantically for that golf ball thing-y!
Mateo lends me a hand.
It's pulled here we go!
How can Mateo look so calm? Like he's enjoying this????
....and it opens! There is a God!
I'm sure you've all seen pictures of parachutes opening before and you've seen how it seems like the skydivers are getting sucked up into the sky. Well, believe me, that's exactly what its like! Its quite a jerk when that chute goes up and that harness is now tighter than ever! Of course, Mateo has to make some adjustments on the harness and he's pulling straps even tighter. Let me put it to you this way. If all these straps were around my waist and tightened as much as they were I'd have a four and half inch waist!
It's open! We're falling a much slower pace now but still not as slow as I'd like it to be.
There's land! Legs up, relax, pull down on the chute straps.....
I don't want to land in the dirt. I don't want to land in the dirt.
Almost back on the ground.
Just a few feet to go and I am so glad! Oh do I feel sick to my stomach!
Back on Mother Earth! Hooray! Take note how everyone is smiling...except me.
When you see the video you'll be able to read my lips in response to Wes' question of how was it. I replied, "I'm going to get sick". And I promptly did.
Now I did this on an empty stomach so I didn't really have anything "to get rid of". I did hear the gasp of the crowd and found out later that my friends thought I couldn't breathe.
Mateo stands with me to make sure I'm alright.
And I thought I was until I took that first step, then down I went. I think the enormity of what I just did caught up with me.
Bob and Don come out to the field.
They were asked to leave the field,,,I guess for insurance purposes. Once he knew I was OK, they left the field. Our friend Elizabeth, brings water.
Mateo loosened the harness and I immediately felt better!
Back on solid ground and I'm a happy camper!
I walked back across the field to the cheers and clapping of my many friends who came to watch. It wasn't quite the show I wanted to give and I do thank them all for sticking in there when the wait got so long.
Mateo gathered the chute and gave a big smile. Thank you so much for getting me down safely Mateo!
Does this look like someone who is glad to have two feet firmly planted on the ground?
I was glad to get this jumpsuit off!
I was given a certificate, a bumper sticker and was soon handed my video and still shot CD's.
Am I glad did this. Yes. Would I do it again? NO! Maybe if I had been in my 20's when I did this for the first time, but not now.
I have to give a huge thank you to LaVon Baker, my "ground photographer". I'm glad I didn't have to wrestle my camera from your hands. And LaVon, thanks for not one picture of a dead tree. (Readers, I'll explain this later.)
So all is said and done and I'll close with this....
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT, GOT THE T-SHIRT!