After years of wanting to try skydiving, my brother Ryan and I decided we were finally going to try it for his birthday. The problem was we were still under the impression that birthdays meant getting as drunk as possible with all of your friends, (although I’m not positive this is actually a phase that’s going to have an exact end). We were still living with our parents and the night before his birthday decided to have a party.
About 50 or so of our friends showed up and after an excessive pre-drink we made our way downtown to hit the bars. We were all pretty wasted by this point but managed to stay until after last call, then continued back in my parents’ backyard until around 4-4:30 am. I was wasted, Ryan was wasted, and I knew there was no way we were going.
The next morning around 8:30-9:00am Ryan and my mom started to wake me up. How Ryan was functioning will always confuse me, but he was in much better shape than I was.
They kept saying we were going skydiving, and I knew that was the plan, but I thought there was no way in hell they would let me go in the condition I was in. WRONG. They got me out of bed somehow and I dragged myself to the car. I remember the whole drive thinking, “We can’t go if it’s raining and it is, so it’s definitely not happening.” And, “I am clearly in terrible shape, no one in their right mind would ever put me on a plane like this, let alone get me to jump out of it.”
When we arrived at the skydiving club, we began our training. Our instructors taught us the protocol for the plane ride up, the position transfer to the door of the plane, and how to properly positon your body while in the air/landing. All the while I was in a hangover haze, convinced I’d be home back in my bed in no time.
At a certain point the sprinkle of rain let up and we were allowed to jump. There were 5 of us jumping, 2 at a time. Naturally the 4 boys I was with all voted that I, the only female and the most hungover, should go first. I knew it wasn’t going to happen anyway so I didn’t put up a fight.
Then my brother and I boarded the tiny plane with both of our instructors and one pilot. These guys were great at their jobs and on a regular day I would have loved the light hearted, natural comedic relationship between the three of them, however I was under the impression that I was dying of a hangover.
Once assembled in our cross legged position on the floor of the intimidatingly small plane, our pilot and instructors starting telling us about how the pilot was “excited for his first time flying” and “hoped he had trained enough for this moment.” We knew better than to believe him, but this wasn’t helping me cope with the reality of what was happening. This hilarious prankster was pretending to not know how to fly the plane that I was pretending to jump out of.
With the whistle of unsealed walls and the rattle of a non-commercial aircraft we were off. It wasn’t until we were in the air that the delusions lifted and it sunk in; I would not be landing with this plane.
Almost immediately after I had figured this out, the pilot of the plane turned around to face all of us. My brother’s instructor pointed at a helmet and before I could even question what that could mean, our pilot dove the plane down nose first, and then suddenly pulled it up sending our stomachs into what I can only explain as a triple backflip type sensation. It’s like when you go over a hill really fast and your stomach flip flops, only you’re on a plane going WAY faster, and thousands of feet in the air.
Then he did it again.
The cool part of this was that the helmet the instructor had pointed at was floating in a zero-gravity type limbo created by diving down and racing back up again.
The not so cool part was my previously mentioned hangover. My brother says my face went instantly pale and I looked like I was about to faint.
I was just concentrating on not dying when the door of the plane was whipped open and the unfazed instructors started assuming their positions. We had training on how to flip your body to get into position to be attached to your instructor and then shimmy to the open door together. I don’t remember doing this part at al,l but do remember suddenly being at the open door of the plane.
You’re supposed to swing your legs out of the plane and out onto the edge. Then you slide your butt to the edge or the doorway while your instructor gets into position as well. This was the most terrifying part. I looked back at my brother almost as if to say goodbye, and then, as he likes to say, “I was sucked out of the plane.”
The free fall was incredible. After the initial shock of being pulled out of a plane I started to really enjoy it. It is the closest feeling to flying and for sure the craziest adrenaline rush I had ever experienced. I was going to be okay I thought.
When it was time to pull the parachute, my instructor did the honor and decided I seemed like the type that would enjoy doing lots of tricks. Clearly he had misread me.
He began doing spins by pulling down on one handle of the parachute; and continuously spun us in the same direction over and over. I remembered in the training they explained if you’re having a bad time just use both hands to give the instructor a double thumb down sign. I however was about 8 spins deep, severely dizzy and didn’t have a clue which direction was was up. In my attempts to do a thumbs down I did exactly the opposite, I told him to keep going because I was LOVING it.
Then I threw up. It was a very hungover, tequila-and-vodka-thousands-of-feet-in-the-air kind of puke. As soon as it came out it was gone with the wind. This was it, I thought, my inevitably dramatic and ridiculous death was here. We continued falling in circles, him doing tricks, me projectile vomiting in the sky until my body seemed to run out of ammo.
As soon as it stopped, I was finally capable of giving him a proper thumbs down, conveniently at the same time he had already began to chill out on the spinning to prepare for landing. Our landing was a success and I somehow had survived. After we had hit the ground and sort of sprawled out of the pile we ended up in, I turned frantically toward him and asked him if I had puked on him. He seemed genuinely shocked by my question and told me no, he hadn’t even known I was puking in the first place.
I was still absorbing that fact when he followed up with, “But anyway, do you think I could take you out sometime?”
I’m not even sure what I said back, probably that I have a boyfriend or I’m not interested in dating right now, but the truth was that I was baffled by the offer. I hadn’t even collected the fact that I had just spent my hangover 10,000 feet in the air, let alone the fact that I had survived it and could potentially be considered attractive to the man attached to me throughout the ordeal.
He was a nice guy and I felt bad but I just needed to concentrate on the fact that I was alive still. The rest of our friends still had to jump, so I was stuck in a field with out-houses for bathrooms to live out the rest of my epic hangover. Our friends all jumped and nobody else had any issue.
I think about that day often, and without researching the science behind it, wonder where my vomit may have landed. Did it evaporate as soon as it happened, or was it some poor fellow cruising through the country side in a convertible that was the unlucky target? I will never know, but I will always wonder.