I fell out of an airplane yesterday. I was pushed by the 250-pound man who was strapped to my back. I should have known better; I'd just seen the same thing happen to my friend E not moments before, and as I looked out of the side of the airplane, I could see his body tumbling below me towards the basin of the Willamette valley.
Actually, E didn't tumble, since he got his form right -- he fell gracefully and belly-first towards the ground. I was the only one who tumbled, since I forgot to arch my back.. My friends E, K, and I got it into our heads to go skydiving yesterday, having decided that our company whitewater-rafting trip hadn't provided us with enough of an adrenaline rush. So we drove down to the Creswell airport yesterday, got a brief run-through of the jump technique (although I clearly didn't pay enough attention), and hopped in an airplane going up to 10,000 feet.
Of the three of us, my jump was by far the most rocky. K did everything essentially right, and E just couldn't pull the ripcord (which sounds like a bigger problem than it is -- there's a guy on your back who pulls it for you if you can't do it yourself). I, on the other hand, was so enthralled (synonym: terrified) by the prospect of sticking my feet on the wheels of the aircraft and hurling myself out that I forgot essentially all of the lesson we'd been given pre-jump. Critically, I forgot that as you're in free fall, you're supposed to extend your body and trail your arms and legs behind you, doing your best shuttlecock impersonation, so that you fall face-downward. I promptly went stiff as a board, and corkscrewed and flipped my way through several hundred (thousand?) feet of altitude. Fortunately, the instructor knew what he was doing, and was able to manhandle my arms and legs into the appropriate position.
I assume that at this point it was clear to the instructor that I was a lost cause, and he didn't even bother to give me the hand-signal to pull the ripcord, preferring to do it himself. This led to a rather pleasant 5 minutes or so of controlled falling as we steered ourselves towards the landing field. I even got to see E's chute drifting below me the entire way down. I am assured by the instructor that the next event was not my fault. As you come in to land, you're supposed to land into the wind, so that your parachute is pulled behind you and you slide into a landing. I had just witnessed E land without incident, so I wasn't worried. Of course, the wind died, the chute ended up flying ahead of us, and we stumbled on to the ground, with aforementioned 250-pound instructor splayed out across my back. Not comfortable.
Problems aside, it was an exhilarating experience, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to blow a chunk of money on an adrenaline rush. Fortunately, since K had to go up by herself in a separate flight, E and I managed to take pictures of her entire jump. Unfortunately, we both forgot to bring our nice cameras, so you have to make do with these crappy cell-phone pictures. Sorry!
Me after the jump, about to remove my harness: