July 2016 – After booking a few months in advance in anticipation of my thirtieth birthday, we drove the two hours south to Cape Canaveral for our 10am Saturday appointment. The appointment was originally booked for noon, but Skydive Space Center had called a few days prior to move it up to 10am (using weather as the reason).
We parked in the already busy lot and entered the building, following the man at the front to a room where we filled out about 20 pages of paperwork. It contained the usual items for such an adventure, including that we wouldn’t sue if serious injury or death occurred. After initialing, signing, and filling in our emergency contact information, we were told to go down the hall to the check-in window. We were weighed and then paid our balance. We were told it would be about an hour wait. We wondered around the building awhile, looking at old photos and notes sent by customers. There was very limited seating inside, so we eventually moved outside to watch the plane take off and skydivers land. We luckily had a little bit cooler day than usual for this time of year. It was upper nineties and had a slight breeze at some points.
After a three hour wait, we were finally told we were next and fitted into harnesses. Our jump masters found us and gave us briefings on what to do when we jumped. Since we had paid for photo/video packages, they started the camera rolling for an awkward introduction pre-flight.
When the plane arrived, we were quickly loaded onto the bench seats inside, each person in front of their particular tandem instructor. The instructors took some photos and adjusted our harnesses. They gave us goggles and again briefed us on a couple of things. Once we reached fifteen thousand feet, each couple started filing out of the plane. Each time two people left, all the others scooted up the bench seat. When it was my time, we scooted forward until we were crouched on the step outside the door. A split second after arriving and looking down, we were falling through the air. We flipped a few times before coming to a steady freefall. The pressure and wind were so great, it was hard to breathe for the entire freefall, but it went by incredibly fast. Less than a minute later, the parachute opened. We spent about eight minutes gliding, with the instructor allowing me to take the reins a few times to direct the chute.
On the way down, we did a few spins. The view was amazing, as we could see both the coast and the space center. As we hovered above the field onto which we landed, I had a brief thought that I hoped my husband (who jumped after me) was doing alright. Then my instructor told me to lift my legs as everything below us came into focus very quickly. We had a fairly gentle, safe landing. My husband had actually reached the ground before us and was waiting. The instructors took a few more pictures and went racing off to the next group waiting on them.
We were told our videos and pictures would be ready in about twenty to thirty minutes. Being late in the afternoon, we decided to eat our picnic lunches while we waited (we had packed them in anticipation of kayaking after skydiving). About fifteen minutes later, we had our flash drives in hand and were headed to our kayaking spot.
This was my second jump (first was in Georgia nine years ago), and it was my husband’s first jump. The location could not have been better with the Atlantic coast in every picture. The wait, however, was frustrating. It the facility had kept our time at noon, we would’ve only been there about two hours start to finish. Instead, four hours was a long time for a ten minute adventure. I will definitely jump again one day, maybe for my 50th or 75th birthday. Hopefully, I can find a way to make the wait shorter for that one, however.