We’ve all done it – watched the birds soaring in the vast sky, meanwhile wishing we too could feel the wind beneath our wings.
The urge to fly is a universal human trait. From Icarus, of Greek mythology, to young babes being tossed in the air, we are exhilarated by the feeling.
Obviously a fear of heights prevents some from displaying their enthusiasm. But others crave the adrenaline that flight offers.
My uncle is one of those junkies who is addicted to soaring with the birds.
Although he just recently got his first airplane, he has been flying for years. Only thing is, he’s not strapped into a seat, or holding the controls of a plane, he is jumping out of them.
Yep, that crazy sky-diving uncle of mine has been flying with the aid of a parachute since 1993.
My mom never understood why her little brother insisted on jumping out of perfectly good airplanes. But in the end, she too considered the idea.
I’ve never really had that consuming urge to sky dive or anything “crazy” like that, but after losing my mom, it’s one of those things that I thought I should give a whirl. You know, a tick off the old bucket list sort of deal.
So just like it was no big deal, I jumped out of an airplane two weeks ago.
I was on a family vacation, heading to Vancouver Island to see that crazy uncle of mine and my aunt, who recently opened Skydive Vancouver Island. We had just pulled into town and called them when my aunt nonchalantly asked if I wanted to do a jump.
“Now?” I asked, as the sun was starting to set and we were a little worn from the drive.
And sure enough, the minute we rolled up to the airport she had me signing the waiver.
It was a Sunday, the final day of an event they were supporting called Jump for a Cure, which involved raising money for a dragon boat team of breast cancer survivors (Angels Abreast).
It was the last jump of the night and Aunty Allison wanted to end the event with a bang. Since I had lost my mom to cancer, and she is a very recent breast cancer survivor, what better way than to have the pair of us make the final plunge. And note that neither of us had ever tandem sky dived before (she has jumped but never gone that high, which is a benefit you have with tandem).
Decked in her Kick Cancer’s Butt shirt, and me in pink, we geared up, loaded the plane and were instantly in awe.
The view from the small aircraft was incredible. The island’s shore was surrounded by the ocean’s inlet and we could even see Mt. Baker in the far distance.
I was a ball of nerves, still in disbelief that I was about to do this, and ready to pull the plug at any minute as I wore my “Uncle Gordy backpack,” as my little cousin calls it.
As the plane climbed in altitude, finally reaching 10,000 feet, the door swung open and I screamed for my aunt as she and Dennis (the fun-loving tandem instructor, who like my uncle is a certified expert skydiver), plummeted out of the plane.
Before I knew it, it was our turn and in one swift motion we too rolled out of the door into the vast sky.
You know those dreams you have where you’re falling and you wake up panicked. Well, it’s just like that, except you don’t wake up – because it’s not a dream.
The gut-wrenching feeling of falling may be tough to handle, but at the same time, it is so exhilarating and unlike any other rush.
When the parachute finally opens after 30 seconds of free falling, your heart is racing as you realize you are still alive and in an awe-inspiring place that is so quiet, distant and amazingly unbelievable. The views, especially being on the island, were unforgettable. As was the entire experience.
I got a little closer to heaven that day, and a little closer to my mom.
I can’t wait to do it again (thanks Uncle Gord)!