I’ve always been a bit of a daredevil. In high school I was a springboard diver, and while the sport is much safer than it seems, it requires the ability to get over pain, and fast. I hurt myself more than most– I hit my head square on the board once, brushed it with my fingers and knuckles multiple times, bruised my body by landing wrong on the water– but I loved the sport anyway. It was exciting to toss myself up into the air and land, most of the time, exactly how I wanted to land. I loved how the audience would sometimes gasp in horror when we were close to the board and tell us after the meet how crazy we were for even attempting our sport.
It probably comes as no surprise, then, that I’ve always wanted to skydive. After having to reschedule multiple times, I finally went with my Dad on a chilly October morning. We signed our lives and legal rights away, suited up, and I watched Dad go first, and the way he spun around up there, slowly drifting down, was rather awesome looking, especially with the sun glinting through his blue parachute.
And then it was my turn. I stepped into a tiny plane that was more like a tin can, was strapped tightly to the guy I was doing tandem with, and even though he repeated instructions to me minutes before our jump I had already forgotten in the rush of rising above the wispy clouds in a blue October sky, I realized I wasn’t nervous at all.
Because he found out I was a diver, we had decided that we would roll out backwards out of the cockpit, resulting in a somersaulting motion I would have to stop as soon as I left the plane. As he began to rock (the signal that we were about to jump), I said, out loud, “oh. I’m actually doing this. I’m doing it.” Thinking back on it now, I probably sounded inane, but the realization was pretty powerful, nonetheless. Yes, I, Kate Crabtree, was flinging myself out of a perfectly good plane, and that was sort of a novel concept, you know?
I found myself falling through the door, and I came out of the tuck, arched back like I was supposed to, and could barely perceive anything. There was wind, deep blue sky, and my mouth was wide open and screaming in pure joy and excitement because silence seemed impossible in that rare, fleeting moment. It wasn’t until the parachute opened that I could grasp what was around me, and I just took it all in as I slowly drifted down to the ground to, sadly, end my daredevil good time.
In short, the entire experience, from free falling, to floating down to a graceful, feet first landing, was nothing short of remarkable. I think I’ve found my new hobby on weekends where I don’t have weddings! Who wants to join me? I need my fix since I no longer dive (often) anymore!
These first two photos, with the blue and white parachute, are of my Dad jumping.
And the blue and pink parachute… is me! Bet you could totally tell who that tiny silhouette was, right?