Skydiving has been on my bucket list for several years. And shortly after moving back to Austin, I have finally gotten the chance to do it! My sister Andi, my friends Leah, Jorrel and I drove about an hour southeast of Austin to Lonestar Parachute Center close to the small town of Luling, Texas on a warm, partly cloudy day.
My sister and I were paired up, and once my sister and I got into the 4 person Cesna, I knew it was on. The climb up to altitude was a beautiful, peaceful 20 minute ride. I kept looking out the windows at the Earth of central Texas in all her splendor. My sister was nervous and bit her lip so hard it left an indentation that lasted the rest of the day. I was sitting next to the shaking and rattling, partially open latch door. The best seat in the house.
I wasn’t at all nervous on the ride up to altitude, but a mix of exhilaration and slight nervousness hit once they opened the hatch door, the air swooshing in rapidly filling the small plane, and we pivoted our bodies to dangle our legs out the door. My tandem instructor had me lean my head back, we rocked thrice, and he threw us out of the hatch to plummet towards the Earth. For the first ten seconds I had the ‘my stomach’s in my chest’ feeling that you get on rollercoasters. Before we stabilized we were just flipping in the air and I caught a glimpse of the plane we had just jumped from moving away from me. A very surreal sight indeed.
After those first ten seconds, we steadied our fall by arching, and it was one of the most peaceful, tranquil things I have ever experienced. The air was not hitting me as harshly as I imagined it would and I felt like I was just floating through the air on a gently breeze like that bag in American Beauty. I was in complete awe of the peacefulness of it, the raw natural beauty seeing mother Earth, the sky, and the clouds from that vantage point. I was enchanted.
All too soon, my tandem instructor pulled the chord and the second phase of the jump began, the parachute gliding us into a gentle but fun descent to Earth. We did non-stop spirals as we made our way down, making us perpendicular to the Earth. I felt like an eagle riding the air currents. I imagined that that’s the way birds must see things from up there. I saw a circular rainbow on the clouds below me. We spiraled through a cloud and I took a deep breath of the cloud, the pure mist entering my lungs was really invigorating. Rather quickly after passing through the cloud, we approached the Lonestar Parachute Center trailer. I could see my friends the size of ants sitting around the picnic bench I where I had left them. We landed kind of rockily, a gust of wind taking the parachute once our feet hit the ground and dragging us on our sides for a few meters.
Afterwards I couldn’t get over how great and different from my expectations the experience was. I think what I most enjoyed was the complete peace and harmony I felt up there. The exhilaration of the jump, the absolute stillness and silence once the parachute is deployed and I floated like a leaf on a gentle breeze. Beauty, serenity, wonder, awe…