First jump with U Skydiving Club

Elizabeth Sias

I experienced skydiving firsthand on April 25 when I wrote about the tandem jump event with U Skydiving Club last weekend. Like most students there, it was my first jump.

The group arrived at about 9:30 a.m., but we had to wait for the weather to clear; we couldn’t skydive with so much cloud cover. Luckily it never rained, and after a couple hours, most of the clouds disappeared, allowing the instructors at Skydive Twin Cities to begin loading the first group of skydivers on the plane.

After several more hours of anxiously awaiting my turn ? I was in the sixth load ? it was finally time. I boarded the plane with three other tandem pairs and, surprisingly, I wasn’t as nervous or scared as I thought I would be. Having watched so many other tandem jumpers land safely on the ground with smiling faces, I was ready. As the plane rose thousands of feet in the air, it finally hit me when I looked out the tiny window and could see just how high we were. From above the clouds, the ground looked like a mass of green and gold square fields. I couldn’t even make out any buildings.

Suddenly, 10,000 feet above ground, my tandem instructor lifted the hatch on the side of the small plane and said it was time for us to sit on the edge and dangle our feet into the open air.

We were now at 13,000 feet. He asked if I was ready. I smiled and said “yeah.”

He counted down: three… two… one. And we flew.

The countdown was nerve-wracking, but the second we dropped, I felt calm. When we dropped out, I held onto the shoulder straps on my harness, as previously instructed. After a few seconds, my instructor tapped my shoulder and I was free to spread my arms. For the first few seconds, I admit that all thoughts of proper formation left my brain; it was a few seconds before I remembered I was supposed to be arching my back with my hips forward and knees bent.

Free fall lasts only about 30 to 60 seconds. It was hard to concentrate and take it all in, but I imagine that was because of the excitement of the first jump. My mind was blank as the rush of air swept past my face. I remember looking down at the landscape and not being able to make out anything in particular except the general colors and shapes of the farmland.

I felt no stomach-dropping sensation during free fall. It was as if I were floating. All too soon, my instructor tapped my shoulder once more and I grabbed my shoulder straps again as he pulled the cord to deploy the parachute. Right on cue, the large, bright orange canopy expanded high over our heads and we drifted slowly back to the ground.

The canopy flight was very peaceful and I had more time to look around. With the rush of air in free fall no longer present, I could talk to my instructor. He pointed out Minneapolis, which was a small gray blob in the distance, 50 miles to the west. He gave me the handles of the parachute for a while, and I was surprised at how difficult it was to turn the parachute. It felt heavy. We even did a few spins on the way down.

As we came in for landing, my instructor took the reins. I lifted my legs and bent my knees as we approached the ground so he’d be the first to touch down, and we safely landed on our feet.