When I was little (think somewhere in elementary school), I stumbled upon a video of someone skydiving and immediately knew I needed to try it. In the United States, you have to be at least 18 years old to skydive, so I asked my dad if he would come with me on my birthday. Most likely considering how far away I was from being 18, and the probability of me forgetting the deal entirely by then, he said yes. Believe it or not, I didn’t forget. So on August 14, 2015, a few months after my birthday, my dad and I drove up to Lebanon, Maine to do tandem skydives at Skydive New England. I was the first tandem to leave the plane and my dad was the last. I remember being in the door, looking out at the ground below, and thinking “here we go”.
Fast forward to a few minutes later – I can still picture landing from the jump, running over to my dad once he landed, and blurting out “I’m going to get my license”. Over six years later, on September 19, 2021 at Skydive New England, I did just that. Load 14, A-100973. I did my first jump course at SNE on May 23, 2021. I didn’t know a single person who jumped there let alone a single person who actually skydived, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was something I needed to do. I had been thinking about getting this license for six years and had run out of (somewhat justifiable) reasons not to do it. So despite being so far outside my comfort zone I couldn’t even see the line it started on, I walked out of my apartment, got in my car, drove up to Lebanon, Maine for the second time in my life, and never looked back.
When friends asked where I disappeared to each weekend, I would vaguely reply with “Maine” and then try my best to subtly change the topic. This sport, as incredible as it is, is not a conventional weekend activity. It’s not something most people are used to hearing about, and some people are better than others when it comes to hiding expressions of fear or sheer horror at the thought of it. So for a while, I kept this all to myself because I wasn’t ready for that conversation. I wasn’t ready to have a friend or even acquaintance question what I was doing or why I was doing it when I was still working through those questions myself. I wasn’t ready for someone to point out the element of danger that is inherent in the sport. I wasn’t ready for someone to try to talk me out of what I was doing before I was 100% confident I was going to keep doing it no matter what. I wasn’t ready for someone to instill doubt in my mind about one of the first things I’ve ever truly done for myself and no one else.
It took me one skydive to fall in love with the sport but it took me about ten skydives before I opened up about where I really was on weekends, before I felt ready to talk about this new addiction, and before I was confident enough in my decision to share it with people who may or may not support me and continue to do it anyways. If I learned anything throughout the license process and during my jumps since, it’s that skydiving forces you to confront fear in one of the most unique ways possible. It pushes you so far beyond your comfort zone you start to not recognize yourself before. It forces you to trust yourself, back yourself, and make decisions for yourself. You don’t have the time to second guess or hesitate. You make a call and own it. Skydiving will also introduce you to some of the most incredible, most interesting, and most badass people on the planet. It takes a unique kind of person to want to quite literally launch themselves toward Earth at a questionably high rate of speed with a piece of fabric strapped to their back as a means of eventually slowing down. Objectively - it’s nuts. But it’s also really really really fun. And there’s really no pre-requisite that prevents someone from trying it. When you take a closer look, you’ll really find that no two people in the sport are the same yet we all have this one incredible thing in common. The wide array of backgrounds, interests, careers, hobbies, etc. that can be found at one drop zone at any given time is nothing short of remarkable. I like to think that while skydiving is definitely not for everyone, it can be for anyone.
It’s hard to believe it has been almost a year since I took my FJC (and almost seven years since my tandem), but so exciting to think that I have my A license, over 50 jumps at 4 different drop zones in 4 different states, and a whole new season ahead of me this summer. What started as a crazy idea when I was a little kid has turned into an unbelievably cool reality that I’m lucky enough to get to experience, and I cannot wait to see what is still to come.