Chris Surette takes the plunge to see the world from a different perspective.
That pretty much sums it up.
The skydiving “first jump course” started at 10am and would finish up around 3pm. Our instructor Brian took us through the X’s and O’s of skydiving. He managed to make us feel at ease about what we were about to experience — despite having to learn about what to do if your parachute didn’t deploy: “Look, grab, pull, arch.” Then you wonder: “Could you imagine being up there and having to use your reserve parachute!” What was I thinking?
“Shake it off,” you tell yourself. “These people do this everyday. It’s safe. There’s a better chance of getting into a car accident.”
So it’s time to jump. I volunteer to go first (not sure why?). Three jumpers to a plane. We put on our jumpsuits, helmets, goggles and we’re ready to go. Wait, we had a large backpack on too.
Let’s do this. The plane arrives and we are set to go.
“Stop!” One of the instructors yells. It was too windy, we had to wait. Great. More anticipation. But as the sun starts descending, so too does the wind. It’s go time.
We board the plane. Stuffed in like sardines. Up we go.
With a parachute strapped to my back and the plane at more than 3,500ft, the plane door opened and the jump master looked at me and gave me the nod. I s-l-o-w-l-y stepped out onto the ledge, one foot at a time, clutching onto the wing of the plane with my hands in front of me, shuffling my feet over, further and further.
I was hanging on as if my life depended on it. Then I stepped off the ledge and was suspended in the air. Did I mention I was 3,500ft in the air?
The jump master looked at me and gave me the nod to let go. I clutched even harder. Again he nodded, but I didn’t budge. Then finally, my feet dangling in the air, I accepted my fate and let go — into thin air.
The next few seconds were a blur. We practiced the proper jumping technique all day, but this was the real deal and my form was poor. The free fall only lasted a few seconds, then pooooofff the parachute opened up. Whew!
I was floating in the air, overlooking the world: well, the Annapolis Valley at least, but I can see the Bay of Fundy.
Then I feel calm. “This is incredible. I just jumped out of a plane. Who does that? I don’t even like heights. Look at this view! How do I steer this thing? Where am I going?” My mind was racing.
“Hi, Chris. I see you. Looking good up there!” The instructor’s voice came through the one-way radio that was strapped to my chest.
It’s amazing how relaxed I became after hearing his voice. I wasn’t alone: he was there to guide me home!
In hindsight, I didn’t enjoy my surroundings enough. It’s hard to take everything in when you’re cruising through the air at 3,500 ft strapped to a piece of canvas for the first time.
Before I knew it, I was preparing for my landing. As quickly as it started, it was over.
Just like that, I was on solid ground.
That pretty much sums it up. What an experience. What a day!
Special thanks to:
Adrienne Currie (The real first jumper. Tandem style from 10,000 ft!)
Atlantic School of Skydiving: David Williamson, Brian, Dennis, Kenny, Ryan and the whole crew! You made this experience an amazing one! Many thanks!
For more information on skydiving, visit www.atlanticschoolofskydiving.com