Leap of…Life

Plain and simple, skydiving is all about controlled terror, and I love it.

–Lewis B. Sanborn

It was third grade when I started to have the dream of going skydiving. It started with a friend of mine who had showed pictures during show and tell one day of his skydive (who cares if the pictures were fake or not, I knew then that I wanted to jump out of a plane). When I first moved to New Hampshire in ’95 I started to look into the sport and then the worst part of life (jobs, career, etc.) got a hold of me and it became a long lost memory. Then, this past July on my birthday my mother (thank you mom!!!) gives me some cash and tells me that I should go catch that dream once again. It was then that I started looking into the sport and asking who was going with me.

As you may have read earlier, Scott had an interesting experience.  His experience was uncontrolled terror, whereas my experience was just the opposite; it was pure excitement like nothing that I had ever experienced before.

On the way to the drop zone on October 26, I was thinking of going tandem. It had been 4 days since the training, I was anxious and of course 4 days of malfunction drills going through my head I was getting more and more nervous. However, once I arrived the instructors started going over the drills, hand signals, etc. which made me feel a bit better.

The jump was a Level 1 AFF (accelerated free fall jump) from 14,000 feet; with the ripcord being pulled at 6,000 feet. This gives you about 60 seconds of free fall (at 120mph) before your canopy is deployed; once deployed you remain in the air for approximately 5-7 minutes. (Check out the USPA site for more info).

Quick word on safety. There are a number of malfunctions that can occur with your canopy, all of which you are trained for. In the event that your main chute cannot be salvaged, then you have a reserve chute that can be deployed. Secondly, in the event that you blackout, loose both of your instructors that are diving by your side and they cannot pull your chute, etc. then you have the Cypress. Cypress or “Cybernetic Parachute Release System” is a device that will deploy your reserve chute at a specified altitude if our descent rate is higher than a certain threshold.  There are other devices out there that do this, I just happened to have the Cypress on my jump.

Words cannot begin to paint the picture of the experience, therefore I’m not even going to attempt it. I will say, that it was a blast and that I will go back…I will most likely pursue getting my license and add this to all of my other crazy adventures that I do.  So, if you want to go with me, let me know a time and place and I’ll do my best to be there.

What did I learn? Well that skydiving is pure. Seriously though, I had a few procedural mistakes on the jump that I learned from.  Therefore my next jump will be even better due to my lessons learned. I also learned that I would recommend that if you have never jumped out of a plane before that you should go tandem. The adrenaline, the wind, the everything that happens to you your first time out the plane at 14,000 feet is almost overwhelming.

I’ll be doing business in San Diego this winter, so I plan on doing jumps out there as the season here in New Hampshire comes to a close this weekend. I also plan on doing some indoor training here in New Hampshire to practice my free fall techniques.

I would like to thank Scott for going with me and sharing this wonderful experience and my mom for reminding me that this was a dream of mine. Furthermore, my gratitude and appreciation goes out to the excellent staff at Skydive New England, Liz, Kelly, Dan and P. for their encouraging words, instruction, feedback and making the experience superb.

Wish you all blue skies!

Tommy Hudson is walking the earth with my eyes turned skyward while  living in Rochester, New Hampshire.

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