by Tim Berry
When I was first told I was going to be skydiving on my 18th birthday, I was totally stoked about it.
But I think that the real thrill didn’t hit me until the day of the jump. My whole family showed up for it and all of my neighbors. While I was getting suited up, the excitement grew more and more. We loaded up in the van and drove to the drop zone, which was where my jumpmaster, Brent, made sure that I was ready to load onto the plane. As we started our ascent to 10,500 feet, a little fear went through me. It took a good 20 minutes to get to the right altitude, and the whole time I was only thinking 2 things: I was totally stoked about jumping, and what am I getting myself into!
When we got to the right altitude, Brent hooked me to his harness and asked if I was ready. Oh yeah, I knew I was! They opened the door to the plane and it took the breath right out of my lungs. This is where more fear hit me. After the first group went out, we started to work our way to the door. When we got to the edge I was practically hanging out of the plane, but I had to roll my legs under the plane and cross my arms across my chest. I was really a novice about what I was doing. Within seconds of me crossing my arms, Brent pushed forward and we rolled out of the plane. At that point I had to make sure that as soon as we were in freefall, I bent my legs back and bent my feet back to hit his butt. I also had to make sure that I put my arms out so that we would flatten out and stop rolling.
I knew as soon as we left the plane that all the air in my body was gone. After about 8-10 seconds I got my breath back, but it was still hard to breathe and my lips were really dry. We went into freefall for about a minute. The wind was really loud but it didn’t really feel like we were falling.
After about a minute of freefalling, Brent pulled the parachute cords and the canopy opened. It was so smooth that I didn’t know it was open until we went vertical.
When the canopy opened we slowed way down, and let me tell you that the view was gorgeous! I saw the whole Las Vegas valley, all of Henderson and Anthem, all of Lakes Mead and Mohave, Hoover Dam, and Boulder City. As we descended, Brent let me take control of the parachute toggles.
He showed me how to turn left and right, how to adjust them so we fell faster and slower. When he showed me how to turn, we dropped at such a sudden rate that it made by stomach drop! We were under the open canopy for about 4-5 minutes.
As we got closer to landing, Brent told me to put my feet straight out and bend my knees just a hair. So as we were coming in to land, I put my legs out and bent my knees and the landing was perfect! We swooped down and slid on our butts.
I can’t wait until I can go skydiving again. It was one of the most thrilling things I have ever done and something that I will just always remember.
I would like to thank Brent Buckner and Skydive Las Vegas and everyone else who helped make it happen.