DANIELSON -- There are few things as counterintuitive as skydiving. For most people, when riding in a plane at 14,000 feet, their first thought isn’t, “What if I jumped out of this?”
At Skydive Danielson in eastern Connecticut, their specialty is taking people on the ride of their lives.
I met with Norm Nault, who would literally have my back as we fell through the atmosphere at 120 miles per hour. He caught the skydiving bug about ten years ago and has performed over 6,000 jumps since then. He’s now the Head Instructor and Safety Training Advisor at Skydive Danielson.
Norm went over everything with me, from the safety of the harness to what to expect during free fall. I had a few simple tasks to remember in order to ensure a smooth jump.
I got harnessed up, went over some final safety checks, and got a quick pep talk from norm.
“Well, it’s a totally normal thing to be nervous. You’re jumping out of an airplane.” He said.
After a few brief moments alone, pacing around with thoughts swirling in my head, it was time to head to the plane.
After takeoff, we made our gradual climb to 14,000 feet. That’s pretty much the highest you can get before you’d need oxygen. It was a hot and steamy summer day, but as we flew higher up, the temperature dropped, acting as free air conditioning. Being above the clouds, I found myself oddly calm ...until the sliding door opened and we watched the other jumpers disappear literally into thin air.
I think back to what co-owner Laura Morris asked me when I first arrived: “Are you ready to jump out of a perfectly good airplane?”
We shimmied our way over to the door and Norm gave a “3, 2, 1” count.
I jumped! At first, my brain took a second to figure out what was happening. It was completely surreal.
I had stood outside during hurricanes and blizzards, but this was by far the most intense wind I’ve ever felt. It was a euphoric sensory overload, aided by the deafening sound of rushing air drowning out my fears and idiotic screams. My cheeks rippled like a dog with its head out a car window.
And then, as the parachute deploys, you instantly transition from the most intense moment of your life to one of the most serene.
I’ve flown in planes at various altitudes before, but while under the canopy of a parachute, there are no walls. It allowed for an unobstructed view of nearly all of eastern Connecticut. That feeling of freedom is what I imagine drives many people back to skydive again.
Norm gave me a chance to grab the reigns and handed me the controls of the parachute. I was able to take us for a literal spin in a corkscrew-like path. The return of hot and humid air as we descended was another reminder how we would soon be back on solid ground. Norm made our approach to the Drop Zone, just like a pilot commanding an aircraft.
When we landed, I was still riding the high of free fall.
Have you ever had that feeling where you were laughing so hard your cheeks hurt? That feeling lasted for a while as people waiting for me on land congratulated me on my first jump.
I’ve heard people talk about how skydiving is a life-changing experience, and I now agree with them.
Thanks to the professionals at Skydive Danielson, I made some epic memories and have one heck of a story to tell!