Opening the door is also different. I never thought it possible, but it’s even scarier when you know you’re all on your own. Of course, we only flew up to 3,500 feet, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
Honestly, if we hadn’t covered pre-exit procedures in class, I wouldn’t have known what to do and even now, looking back on it, I was so nervous that I’m surprised I did everything correctly.
At first, the pilot flies to the correct altitude, while the instructor determines the proximity to the drop zone. After the door is opened and the plane is in the right spot, the instructor yelled, “Cut!” The pilot then turned off the engines, which puts the plane into a steady glide at a much slower speed, and I scurried out onto the step just off the wing of the plane. With a final glance back at the pilot for the thumbs up, I jumped. Despite the relative ease of using a static line, it takes much more willpower to jump on your own and makes the experience much more fulfilling.
The rest is history. I’ve gone skydiving a handful of times since my first solo jump and I intend to continue this passion in hopes of becoming a certified skydiver someday. I can’t say what compels me to return to the airport, but I can say why I think it’s an experience everyone should at least consider: It’s fun, it’s frightening, it’s beautiful, and it really is a life-changing experience. If you’ve ever considered skydiving, don’t wait. You never know, you might find yourself coming back for more.