LONGMONT, Colo. - "I would never in a million years go skydiving."
Yes, I used to say that!
And I had a change of heart after thinking, why do I say NEVER?
Of course, talking about skydiving and doing it are two different things, especially since this adventure involved taking my husband, Mike, but it really didn’t take any coaxing. Mike was on board right away and, in fact, he was pleasantly surprised that I was willing to take the plunge.
I asked a few friends about where to go and they all pointed me to Mile-Hi Skydiving in Longmont. I read reviews, watched their videos online and on YouTube and was sold.
So I called Mile-Hi, made a reservation for a tandem jump and we were booked -- it was that easy.
What wasn’t easy was the drive in the car headed to the jump. My husband wanted to talk about what we were in for, and I wanted none of that. I didn’t want to talk or think about what a tandem skydiving jump involved.
Nervous? Yes, I guess so, and so was Mike.
So we arrived and the people at the front desk couldn’t be more pleasant. They explained the cost, approximately $200, plus an additional $100 for a photographer who would essentially document your every move. There was some paperwork to sign, but the worst part was weighing in. Yes, they make you step on a scale so they can get you fit properly in flight gear and with the right tandem mate.
I am far from being a daredevil and after meeting with Boyd Wilkinson, my tandem partner, I found out I was not unlike most others wanting to jump. Some just want to jumpstart their life, others are just looking for a new experience, one woman shows up every year on her birthday to jump and she’s now 94!
We were here for the experience of just doing something different, with the assurance that we would walk away happy and in one piece.
Mile-Hi did not disappoint. We watched the workers, called riggers, pack up the parachutes to prepare for each jump; it was sort of like trying to fold up a big squishy sleeping bag and squeezing all the air out of it. It looked almost like a wrestling match, but the riggers were quite serious about it, after all, they are certified by the F.A.A.
By this time we were suited up in our fancy purple flight gear and our tandem partners explained what was in store.
My partner, Boyd, has jumped about 4,000 times. Mike’s partner, Travis, about 6,000. So we felt like we were in good hands.
Boyd explained to me how the straps attach me to the parachute and he is sandwiched between us, my back to his front. He said, “I’ll be spotting you for the whole jump, I am the most important man in your life right now.”
I was fine with that. My husband was in no position to save me, so yes, I considered Boyd my new best friend.
So off we go, loaded onto a trailer, our ride taking us to our real ride in the sky, and that’s when we saw the plane that will carry us off into the wild blue yonder. And we were excited.
We stepped onto the plane, one by one and there were no seats, just two benches. We strapped on our seatbelts and the plane smoothly took off with us sitting there chatting away, acting like we are old friends sitting around a table having coffee when in reality I was trying not to think about jumping from 18,000 feet in the air.
And before I knew it -- it was time to jump.
We inched our way down the bench to the opening in the plane, the amazing photographer Allison in front of me. She wore a helmet mounted with a video camera and a still camera and was snapping away as she jumped out backwards, hanging there as Boyd and I made our move. We didn’t exactly jump, we just sort of leaned out the opening of the plane and started falling.
That’s when I couldn’t remember one word Boyd told me during my safety instructions.
I couldn’t think, and I surely couldn’t breathe.
My breath was taken away by the force of the wind and this incredible view of my very own google map below.
Then it was Mike’s turn to jump. He and Travis right behind me, they too falling at 125 miles an hour and Mike was having the time of his life. He was cheering, smiling, giving the thumbs up.
I, on the other hand, looked excited, but stunned. It was great to have the video and pictures afterwards to see how we both reacted so differently.
That free-fall lasted about one minute, and then when the chute opened it was so peacefully quiet that Boyd and I actually had a conversation in the air. He pointed out Longs Peak, the city of Boulder, even the Denver skyline. All this while doing some turns.
We floated in the sky for about five minutes and then it was time to land. I wasn’t sure how that was going to work, but it ended up being so smooth and easy. Boyd simply said “bring those feet up, and when I tell you to stand up, do it” and it worked. -- a nice smooth landing.
So, what did I think? Allison was right there at the landing point to ask me and I said “that was crazy, that was truly the craziest thing I’ve ever done. That was beyond awesome.”
Just as I finished spewing those words, my husband Mike came in for a landing and he had the biggest grin on his face as he, too, gracefully landed on his feet.
I was laughing at him laughing and saying “that was so fun.” It was so fun, truly one of the best things we have ever done -- you couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces!
Learn more about Mile-Hi Skydiving on their website: http://www.mile-hi-skydiving.com/
Check out our Discover Colorado webpage: http://www.thedenverchannel.com/lifestyle/discover_colorado