Thursday, July 03, 2008
TERRI'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE
"...just 35 minutes from Austin" turned out to be 47 miles from where we live. Highway, expressway, expressway, rural road, farm road, farm road, farm road... seas of corn. Threatening skies. It has rained here one day (Sunday overnight into Monday) in the last uncountable days. We are in a bad drought. Imagine! The day Terri picked to skydive, (her birthday present to be enjoyed what turned out to be exactly 90 days from her big day) as we drove and drove, the skies turned into rain showers and microbursts.
We arrived at the little airstrip and watched a group be instructed, suit up, and the little plane then mushed into the threatening sky. Shortly after, we learned they had diverted to another airport 8 miles away due to the closing hole in the clouds and gusting winds, and rain. We sat sheltered under the tin metal porch roof and waited. Maybe an hour and a half later, the sky cleared, the plane droned overhead, and tiny dots emerged way up... there.
After all were safely back on earth, parachutes repacked, two other tandem jumpers cast the bounds of earth for their adventure. And wouldn't you know it - the guy was someone Terri knew from work! They first-time jumped tandem with certified serious guys who had experience and grit and jumpsuits.
Everyone came back with big smiles.
The issue then became gusts. Apparently steady winds are no problem but a gust can inflate the chute just before touchdown, pop it back up into the air, then if the gust stops, the chutees hit the ground hard. "...never even a sprained ankle..." said the website.
Repeatedly I was asked if I was going. "Nope." Apparently that's the protocol... "You jumping?" "Yes" buys you into the fraternity/sorority. "No" buys you pity. I bought myself a candy bar.
An old couple arrived with daughter and granddaughter - the older couple were jumping - first timers - for their anniversary (tandem, with the grit boys attached to each.) "Why not, we don't have much to lose at our age" said the old guy.
Finally Terri was instructed, harnessed, and the plane was started... we had waited about 3 hours to that point. And off she went - I, apparently more nervous, than she.
The day had turned back into blue skies and the rain had cooled the day down into the low 90s at the ground. At 10,000 feet it'd likely be in the 50s for a few seconds as she fell... it takes maybe 15 minutes to climb, 30-40 seconds of freefall, then maybe 5 minutes of float...
We bought the video package, some of which is still photography. Bless digital cameras. I only have the stills so far - the video will be mailed and if I can, I'll post some of it (so come back).
Meanwhile, here she is... Terri... her birthday present, an adventure to remember with a free shot of adrenaline. (I'll add more stills later, too, as I took some from the ground as they neared earth.)