I went skydiving today at Skydive City in Zephyrhills, FL for Operation Freefall: The Two-Mile High Stand Against Sexual Assault. What an incredible experience!
According to Skydive City, here’s how it works:
-After about 20 minutes of training and getting geared up, fly to about 13,500 feet (flight takes about 15 minutes)
-Wearing a harness connected directly to the Tandem parachute system, jump together and accelerate to 120MPH (200Kph), freefalling for about 60 seconds
-At about 5000 feet, they open the parachute and we have a 4-6 minute ride down
After gearing up and running through training, I boarded the plane first with my instructor (Quinn) and my videographer (Aaron). Four of the 14 or so other Operation Freefall group members boarded the plane after me with their instructors and videographers, so we were quite cozy during our 15 minute flight.
I did my best to chat with Quinn and other members of my group to keep my mind off the fact that I was about to jump out of that perfectly good airplane. While we were sitting and chatting, Quinn strapped us together and tightened all of the harnesses.
When we reached the appropriate altitude, people began jumping out. Everything happened so fast that I didn’t even have time to be nervous. When it was our turn, we stood at the edge of the plane, bent our legs, rocked back and forth twice, and out we went on the second rock. Aaron was already hanging out the side of the plane wearing his camera and tracking us as we fell.
Quinn decided to add a flip to our “dismount” (just for kicks), which was fun. Then we were freefalling, which did not feel at all as I expected. I anticipated having a difficult time moving my legs and arms and I assumed I would feel the force of the drop. That wasn’t the case. I could move around and the feeling of being in the sky above the clouds overlooking Tampa Bay was surprisingly freeing. I felt untouchable. After falling for a bit, we met up with Aaron in the middle of the sky, clasped hands, and he spun us in circles. After releasing his grasp, we continued to fall until Quinn opened the chute, which brought us to what felt like an abrupt stop.
All went quiet (and vertical). We could talk, we could move, and I could pop my ears, which had become uncomfortable during the freefall. Quinn loosened the harnesses a bit for a more comfortable glide down. He asked if I liked roller coasters (I do), so we spun around the sky for a few minutes. As we neared the ground, we circled Skydive City and landed comfortably in the drop zone where Eric, Aaron, and Team Crisis Center were waiting for us.
I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything – if you ever have the opportunity to skydive, it’s absolutely worth trying. Challenge yourself, learn something, experience the power of the sky, learn to respect it, and, of course, enjoy the views!
I jumped in Operation Freefall as part of Team Crisis Center, supporting the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, Speaking Out Against Rape (SOAR), and the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). I can’t thank my friends and family enough, not only for making this incredible opportunity a reality for me, but particularly for supporting such an amazing cause. Funds raised from this event are used to:
- Increase local support and outreach services for survivors of sexual violence.
- Provide recovery, risk-reduction, and prosecution information to tens of millions of people, including many in your local community, each year.
- Enhance SOAR’s programs to help victims of sexual violence throughout the healing process.
- Educate lawmakers, police officers, students, the public, and the media about sexual violence.