Skydiving: Thoughts at 13,000 Feet

By Kearsten Shepherd

Kearsten Shepherd
Kearsten Shepherd

I’ve never been afraid of heights. I’m usually the one who’s standing at the edge, looking down to see how far it is to the bottom. I get a little bit of an adrenaline rush from the idea that I’m that close to actually falling over.

I love the rides where the bottom drops out and you free fall for a few seconds before you land, your stomach plunges and for a split second you think it might not stop. There’s nothing better than that surge of emotion you get not knowing if you’ll land safely.

So as you might expect, skydiving has been on my bucket list for years. I had planned to go for my 30th birthday, but never got around to it. In part because I’ve never been able to talk someone else into doing it with me – or have never had anyone that would actually push me to do it. It never really seemed like a good time, or a good enough time to do it. Until my sister won a discounted jump at a charity event and asked me to go with her. And so I had the push I needed – literally.

Because my sister lives in Santa Barbara it took a bit more planning but as luck would have it I was planning to be down there in October for a wedding and thus the plan was hatched. We made arrangements to go up first thing on a Friday morning.

After two five minute videos and a ten page waiver, we were suited up and ready to go. As we waited to board the airplane I wasn’t nervous at all. I didn’t have that knot in my stomach like I had expected. The entire ride in the plane I was taking it all in, the whole thing, this amazing shared experience with my sister and the six other complete strangers that had also decided to do this crazy thing.

In just a few minutes we were at 13,000 feet and one by one these people I had only just met were flinging themselves out of a wide open plane door – hooked to a professional – but still taking this amazing leap of faith nonetheless.

And then it was my turn, standing in the doorway and then suddenly being flung out the door doing summersaults through the air, and then just floating.

Technically you are falling, but it doesn’t feel like falling, the force of the air as you cut through it makes it feel more like floating than anything else.

So we floated for sixty seconds. It doesn’t sound like a long time, but it does feel long, obscenely long actually. You don’t get the crazy adrenaline rush or the stomach drop I was expecting. It wasn’t scary at all.

Maybe I’m crazy, but I placed an immense amount of trust in my guide that we would be fine, that the parachute would open and we would land safely. So I was able to actually enjoy the process of floating through the sky and take in the amazing scenery – the mountains, the ocean, the horizon where the sky meets the sea – it was truly amazing.

Then the parachute opens and you slowly descend to the ground. Hovering through the air, cutting right and then left, until you reach the ground – safe and sound and it’s over. The entire process probably takes ten minutes – the majority of which you spend in the plane.

In the end it was an amazing experience, and something I would recommend everyone do once, but I’m not sure I would do it again. I didn’t get the rush I was hoping for, it was much more serene and peaceful than I ever expected. It was a great time, but once was enough for this adrenaline junky.

A special thanks to my sister and Sky Dive Santa Barbara for helping check this one of my bucket list!





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