This is a very special guest post from my dad Rodney Broughton. I love that both of my parents still possess an adventurous side and are accepting of my sometimes-crazy antics. Even as open-minded as I am to new experiences, I thought my dad was out of his mind when he told me he was going skydiving. So, I made him promise that he wouldn’t tell me about it until he was back safely on the ground.
Here is his story.
The old cliché about jumping out of a perfectly good airplane is enough to make most people keep their feet firmly planted on the ground. But at 55 years old I thought it was time to cross this off my short but ever changing “bucket list.”
Ever since going on the Freefall ride at Six Flags Over Georgia I wanted to experience the feeling of a real free fall. With thanks to my wonderful wife, she purchased a skydiving trip for me for Valentines Day. I was very excited but nervous. After getting the okay from my physician and dropping 25 pounds I was on my way to Skydive Tampa Bay.
On arrival I was quick to notice that I was old enough to be most of the people who were jumping or the instructors’ father. After a short conversation with my tandem partner and self proclaimed adrenalin junky, he instructed me on the free fall position. I realized that this tired old body just didn’t flex like it used too. After his reassurance that I would be fine, I settled in for a two-hour wait.
Thirty minutes prior to my death-defying leap my partner tossed me an official skydivers jumpsuit to put on. I have to admit that after sliding it over my clothes and putting on my harness I felt a little like Maverick in Top Gun. After voguing for all the people in the hanger, I was given my last minute instructions before loading up on the plane to set out on our 10-minute journey to 13,000 feet.
The trip seemed long, and the plane grew warmer as we continued our ascent. When we were at jumping altitude the first two out the door were a father and daughter out for a nice Saturday jump. Then one after another the planeload of tandem jumpers were rolled out of the door. Tandem jumping brings a whole new meaning to the word close. You are harnessed so tight to your partner it is almost hard to tell where you end and he begins.
Well it was my turn. After my duck walk to the door with my partner firmly anchored to my back I was sitting in the doorway of the plane with my feet dangling out at 13,000 feet wondering what the hell I was…. Couldn’t get to the word “doing” before my partner rolled us out the door and we were free falling at 126 miles per hour.
The one word I would use to describe the experience was intense. It was very noisy with the air rushing by, but when the parachute is deployed you quickly transition to a very quiet peaceful ride. I felt like Mini Me in Austin Powers hanging in the harness in front of my tandem partner – but not as small.
After my last minute landing instructions, and a final corkscrew move just to be sure I didn’t leave my stomach elsewhere, we had a very smooth and successful butt landing. Like my partner had told me before the jump my insides were in hyperspeed, and it was a while before I came back to Earth.
The best way to sum up my experience was my answer to the last question that my videographer asked me. Would you do it again? My answer – in a heart beat.