Sky Diver coming in at Zephyer Hills Airfield, Florida
I finally jumped out of an airplane! Yeeehaaa! It encompassed thrilling moments, surprising discoveries and fantastically sweeping views over Florida. If you’ve ever wondered, “What’s it like to go sky diving?” read on…
Enthusiastic and charming Sky Diving Instructor- Nigel Milligan
- Arriving at Skydive City in Zephyrhills- Florida
I excitedly arrived at SkyDive City at Zephyrhills airfield and met my charming instructor, Nigel.
Arriving at Skydive City in Zephyrhills- Florida
I signed my life away…
SKy diving - getting strapped in... Yes!
Nigel suited me up, strapped me into my tandem harness and double-checked straps and clips.
Then he trained me on proper positioning, jumping and landing. (This isn’t exactly correct: I’d originally scheduled my jump one week earlier, gone out to the airfield, met Nigel and done my training… But it was waaayyy too windy that day. We’d rescheduled. Today was just a review of my lesson)
Practicing the free-fall position
We boarded the Twin Otter plane, packed in like sardines with ~20 other jumpers, including members of SOCOM – Special Operation Command from McDill Airforce Base !
Twin otter plane we flew up in
Walking out to catch the plane (see all the special forces?!)
Our plane climbed steeply and noisily up to 13,500 ft…
Nigel and I shuffled down to the open hatch at the back of the plane, following all the other jumpers, took position, and hurled ourselves out the door into the wide blue sky and massive wind!
We plummeted toward the Earth in free fall for 60 seconds (~1000ft every 6 seconds for a total of 10,000ft fall ) while I gasped for dry-aired breaths and Nigel chattered off a bunch of information that I couldn’t be bothered with (sorry Nigel) while gasping for my life and dealing with the gale-force wind blasting past my face…
At about 4000 ft. Nigel pulled the shoot and we began gliding through the air, making several giddying turns and taking in the scenery for 3-4 minutes (only because Nigel pointed it out) as we descended toward the landing point…
All too soon, feet up, we made a gentle landing right in front of the diving school. TaDa!
FINI That’s all folks.
Nigel congratulated me on a fine jump, but the only thing I did was trust everything to him and go along for the ride. The real thanks is due to Nigel for helping me go sky-diving on my birthday, something I’ve been wanting to do since I was 17. Thanks Nigel! (find Nigel Milligan on FB)
sky diving with Nigel
DETAILS and INSIGHTS:
After pondering over what I’d just experienced, I uncovered some interesting discoveries:
1. No sensation of falling.
Astoundingly, I experienced no feeling of falling whatsoever. I’d always imagined the thrill of sky diving was the sensation of falling rapidly towards the Earth. But there was no such sensation. I would assume that’s because I was not falling ‘past’ anything, thus no frame of reference? (Could also be from terror. Too shocked to notice what was happening)
The free-fall, instead, was an overwhelming sensation of super dry air and not being able to breath. I felt that all I could do, all I could focus on was take big gasping dry breaths. That and the feeling of massive racing wind flying past my face. In truth, it was all quite uncomfortable.
( Later, I was told by Nigel and all the other jumpers that my sensation of not being able to breath was nerves. ) Terror is what they meant, I suppose. Hmph ? I actually thought I hadn’t been scared or nervous… but apparently once I was actually out in the sky, my outer calm gave way to my real emotions. but…
Lash getting ready to sky dive
2. I wasn’t particularly scared or nervous at any point.
At least not consciously (above gasping apparently indicates otherwise) Why not? For one thing, I’d been wanting to sky dive since I was 17 yrs old. It took me a couple of decades, but at last there I was. Secondly, I absolutely LOVE heights. Third, since I was doing a tandem jump I didn’t have much responsibility for.. anything really. I trusted my instructor to do everything properly. I didn’t have to worry about remembering, reacting on time, steering, knowing what I was doing, or landing. To me, as I said, I felt I was just going along for the ride. I also employed a ‘never worry’ technique: I basically just didn’t think about it. All through the drive to Skydive City, the training and the flight I chatted about other stuff and joked around. That distraction worked a charm. I felt pretty calm the whole time. (I think)
My only real prior concern about sky diving had developed years earlier because of my experience bungee jumping in Japan. I had also always wanted to bungee jump. So at long last, I’d made the appointment, gone out there, feeling entirely relaxed, excited and non-fearful, climbed up the tower to the edge and then…. du du du daaaa!! I was TERRIFIED! EH? How completely unexpected that was. It literally took me 30 minutes of pleading, conjoling and convincing by everyone around for me to finally jump.Ever since then I’d wondered what my real reaction to jumping out of a plane would be… Would I freak? Freeze? Scream and yell? Refuse to jump? Fight the instructor? Happily, I found out I did none of those things, but just leaped out into the sky as expected. It’s much easier to jump out of a plane than jump off a tower over a parking lot full of cars.
3. My favorite parts were *getting geared up in the suit and harness and *riding up in the plane with all the other ‘para-troupers’ I loved getting strapped into the harness with all its straps and buckles. It was much like getting on my hefty scuba diving gear. There’s something about wearing technical gear that’s very exciting and satisfyin.! I felt like I was going on a mission.
Likewise, it was super exciting being packed in like sardines into the small, tunnel-like plane, with about 20 other jumpers, all suited up in our ‘commando gear’ getting ready for ‘our mission.’ This idea was re-enforced by the fact that I was surrounded on all sides by members of the SOCOM- Special Operation Comand from McDill Airforce Base, who were doing accuracy training jumps. Besides that, I’ve always loved flying in airplanes. So I also greatly enjoyed the steep climb and the increasingly high views out the window as we ascended to 13,500 ft.
On the way, Nigel checked that I wasn’t too nervous then helped me get on my leather cap (I’d elected to wear a cap since my ears get cold just riding a bicycle in 75F/ 25C) then my tight sky-diving goggles and finally clipped me onto his harness.
As we reached the jump point, the door opened and the other jumpers began falling out the door… We shuffled towards the open door until everyone else had gone and.. .”HOLY SHIT!…” it was my turn to stand at the door, do the “1-2-3” prep with Nigel, and hurl into the sky.
4. I didn’t especially enjoy the free fall, which is the part I’d expected to love the most. Hmph! Where was the falling sensation? And what was with all that dry air and difficulty breathing?
On the other hand, I did enjoy the gliding session. Which I also did expect to enjoy. We did a few turns: fast turns and slow turns. Nigel pointed out scenic points including lakes, planes, the landing zone, and far off Tampa. I got to hold the parachute handles and ‘steer’ the chute. (actually, Nigel was pulling my arms) My only regret is that it was soooo short (3-4 min)… Before I knew it, and seemingly very far from the earth, I was told to lift my legs in preparation for landing.. and then very soon we were on the ground.
Special Operation Command coming in for landing
Ohhhh , hhhooo! Fun stuff. Another day, another adventure.
It was later that I realized I’ve actually done a lot of sky sports:
I’ve flown an airplane (3 intro flying lessons in a Cessna) in the USA.
Learned para-gliding in Japan.
Did one scary bungee jump, also in Japan.
Went hang-gliding in Australia.
Flown as passenger in at least 100 international flights.
Flown in a helicopter in the Brazil Amazon.
And now, I’ve finally gone sky-diving in Florida.
Hmmmm…. looks suspiciously as if I like flying. What shall I do next?
Cooking something else up from paradise, Lash
** p.s. I highly recommend my Sky Dive Instructor, Nigel Milligan
. He’s been sky diving for 20 years and has 3500 jumps. He’s an excellent instructor, full of enthusiasm, confidence, competence and experience. Find Nigel on Facebook
So if you’ve always wanted to sky dive or get in yet another sky dive and you can get your butt to Florida, hook up with Nigel. **