& geeky stick boy
My Parachuting Experience - By Lei, Sept. 2004

We got into the airplane. About 23 people, we sit in two benches facing each other, the plan started to climb higher and higher, and I can see the view starting to stretch out in my eyes. I feel like we are on a military deployment mission in the movie. Guys around me, I am the one of the two women parachutes.

Jody was jumping before me. He chickened out for a second and the guys pulled or pushed him out. I was the last one to jump. Heath is on my left outside of the door and Jeff is on my right. He said " are you ready to skydiving". I said "Yes", and then he said "like the hotel thing". I said, "check in, check out", and I suppose to say "right hand , right foot, left hand and left foot" and at the mean time, put myself into ready position ( we practiced this part for quite a few times in dirt training), but at this point, the wind is roaring upon my ear, and nothing except the metal bulky door to hold on, and my half body is out of the airplane again the wind. I was a bit scared.

Then I said "up and down", without allowing a second to get even more scared, I jumped out. It was 13000 feet high, and I suppose to arch in order to fly on top of the air. But I didn't really make an arch, my mind went blank for a second and then I felt the shaking from my coach, I realized I have to arch to put gravity center at my tummy, but I did not do it right. I think I bent my knees, so instead of arching flat, my body tilted up and I was flipping back. Jeff and Heath were trying to maneuver me into arch, but I was flipping back even further. At that point, I thought there is a possibility that I have to roll a circle to get back. I leaned my upper body trying to fight against flipping back. I was really, really scared at this time. I can feel Jeff and Heath fumble to help me. Suddenly, Heath left me, I was thinking to myself " sh-t, he dropped me, now I only have Jeff to help me out, at this time, I felt a strong pressure on my lower back, and I was forced into arch position. I am a little bit relieved and trying hard to keep the arch and balance myself and try to be a little relaxed and I couldn't remember what to do next.

Then I remembered I need to do look, touch, and check for three times to make sure that I can reach the plastic tube tied to the throw out rip cord. I couldn't find it and Jeff placed my hand on the right place. Heath, already flew back to me ( he got away to let Jeff straight me out, so they two don't need to struggle with each other) Heath pushed my arm in front my face, I was like, what is that, then I saw altimeter and it says 6000. It's 6000 feet, I should lock in and get read to deploy my canopy, but instead of locking in, I turned to Jeff and said 6000 feet. Cause I remembered I suppose to read him altitude all along the way we are falling and since we fumbled to arch, I did not have time to do that, so I thought that's what I need to do yelling him 6000 instead of locking in. My mind went slow for a second there again trying to think what to do next, then I realized I probably need to read my altimeter again, it already says 5000, ( I said, wow, it's the time to pull the tube and deploy the canopy.

Before this point, I was flying 120 miles an hour, in other word, 1000 feet every five second). I hurriedly reached to my back for the tube, but couldn't locate it. I was saying I am falling faster and lower and I couldn't find the thing, I could die. (of course, forgot all about the reserve parachute) Jeff did something on my side. I hoped he pulled it for me, but for a second I couldn't be sure because I didn't feel anything, and at the same time, I saw both of them flying down away from me FAST, leaving me behind. I was about to scream " come back, you guys, don't leave me here by myself" at this moment, I felt a jerk above me, I was pulled up suddenly and fiercely, My canopy fully deployed. I was slowed down right away ( I got a back injure from this pull later ). I thought for a second, remembered that I need to reach up for my break and steering ropes. I pulled gently and they are in my hand. I looked around, don't know where I am and couldn't see anybody. I was worried again about where to land. But I looked up checked my canopy first and pulled the breaks cautiously, afraid of trigger any disaster.

I said if I can follow others, I will find the landing place, but I looked around, nobody in the air,( I am the last one out). For a second no radio, panic, then I start to hear the voice coming out of the radio saying turning left. ( later on, we found out that the radio guys mixed up me and my husband, they thought they were talking to me to turn left to get back to right direction, but they actually steering my husband away from the landing zone, some guys down said, she is not turning, but he keep on turning left making circles. Anyway, after they figured out, they started to talk to me on the radio for turning left, I couldn't hear or don't understand anything other than left or right, that's only thing I need to know, I guess , anyway I saw the landing zone and fly at about 10 miles an hour, keep on turning left, first to fly with the wind (5m/hr) and turn into the wind, and I saw the ground coming toward me and the trailers, I thought no land on those trailers, and then coming pretty quick of the grass land, about 15 feet, I heard flare, and I pulled down the break, a bit late , I did not land standing, but sitting. So for the whole time, my mind went blank first, and did not arch right, and get into panic, back to arch, forgot what to do, couldn't find the tube for throw out, and scared more than I can think. And I have to say Jeff and Heath probably saved me, I And every step, it's new, Now it seems happened so fast to me, I can't imagine I did it.

So that's it. 4hrs driving, 7hrs training, napping and mostly waiting, I did the whole scary thing in 6 min (50 second free fall, 5 min parachuting).