11:30pm Arrive at Skydive Oregon
11:31pm Realize the place doesn't open until 12:00pm
12:00pm Fill out the world's longest electronic waiver.
12:35pm Hand over money and get a ticket in return to give to my instructor before we board the plane. The cashier asks, "Couldn't convince anyone to come with you?" I laughed and said, "Maybe next time when they see that I don't die."
12:40pm My name is called over the loudspeaker to go to the classroom and get a crash course in what's going to happen in the air.
12:41pm The instructor (I think his name is Mike) strides into the mini classroom exuding confidence and fun.
12:45pm Mike(?) shows us how our body should look as it hurtles to the ground at 120mph. He says over and over, "Lean back and arch." He turns serious and says, "We will ask you before we jump if you still want to jump. If you say no then you have to ride the plane down." He squints his eyes and says, "It's rare, just don't let it be you." Holding up a yellow strap he explains, "Your instructor will let you have a chance at steering the chute if you want." Full-on yes I do!
1:00pm Ushered back to the visitor area and wait to be called over the loudspeaker for gear application.
1:10pm The first round of jumpers are called to be strapped into a harness.
1:15pm My name is called over the loudspeaker, and I follow my group back to meet my personal instructor and get strapped in.
1:16pm Mike(?) introduces me to Josiah. He shakes my hand, smiles, and starts wrapping straps and buckles around my body. I casually ask how long he's been jumping. Without missing a beat he answers, "About two weeks." I have an uncle, so I didn't rise to the bait. He assures me that he's been on over 4500 jumps and hasn't died yet. He makes sure that I know the parachute color we will have is pink and then goes through the motions of what's going to happen when we jump, topping it off by saying, "Just lean back and arch."
1:30pm I watch the first group take off in the airplane and Mike(?) (classroom instructor) playfully bumps my shoulder and puts his fists up playfully. I smile and say, "I could take you." He quips, "But I'm bigger." I put my hands on my hips and say, "The bigger they are the harder they fall." He laughs.
1:40pm We are led across the landing strip to be ready to board when the airplane lands. Mike tells us the story of how he got into skydiving as we walk. "When I was about twenty my girlfriend wanted to go and so I couldn't wuss out. I hated it, but she wanted to go again, and I hated again, but at the time I couldn't be outdone by my girlfriend and here I am ten years later." I quip, "You sure showed her." Mike laughs and says, "You know it! She's now a pilot and tests drones for the military." (Mike puts up air quotes when he says the word test.)
1:45pm We were so wrapped up in Mike's story that we missed the first group jumping out of the plane, but we could see the multi-colored parachutes drifting back to Earth.
1:50pm Everyone from round one lands safely. Some land standing and some land seated. The facial expressions range from relieved to bug-eyed.
1:51pm Josiah, my instructor, had jumped with the first group, so I was last to get on the plane for our group. This meant that I WAS GOING FIRST TANDEM OUT THE DOOR! A couple of singlets hopped in the plane too and so it was my instructor and I straddling the bench and then a singlet on the floor in front of me. It was very close quarters. Josiah walked me through every motion he was taking. "I'm buckling you to the airplane and to me. Now, I'm tightening the straps. Now I'm going to tighten the goggle strap so your glasses stay on."
1:55pm Josiah would show me his altimeter from time to time and say, "If we're at such and such height and the chute hasn't deployed you can get worried." I laugh as we continue to climb to 13,000 feet. The singlet jumper rolled open the side door to give us fresh air. Josiah urged me to stick my hand through the door to feel the wind. "It's just like sticking your hand out the car window, except we're going about a thousand times faster!" Singlet closes the door as the plane banks and heads back to the drop zone.
1:57pm The plane levels out and the single jumper rolls the door open again. He gives the people nearest him high fives and the climbs out the door with his buddy and leaps. Josiah and I move towards the door, "Curl your legs beneath the plane, hold onto your harness, and lean back and arch!"
1:59pm I am falling at 120mph! My instructor taps my arm to let me know I can let go of my harness. I could feel my cheeks flapping in the wind because my smile is so huge. We exchange thumbs up until the parachute is deployed. Josiah makes some adjustments to the harness as we descend and suddenly it's much easier to breath. He yells, "Do you want to control the chute?" I answer, "YES!" I practice turning one way and then the other. Josiah asks, "Do you like my office?" I reply, "Yes, you have the best view!" Turning the reins back to him we prepare for landing. Coming in a little fast, Josiah opts for the less-than-heroic-butt-landing that I learned in class.
2:03pm Josiah asks me to help him untangle some of the lines, and I notice the chute is blue. Sneaky, sneaky Mr. man. We walk back to the station, and I mention I jumped for the sake of research for a fellow author, but I may need to come back a few times to make sure I get it right. He laughs and tells me to bring them along next time.
2:04pm I take a moment to alert all the living I'm alive and well. I take a moment to realize that I just jumped out of a plane.
2:05pm Plan next jump with video and pictures.