I am kneeling at the door of the airplane
looking down 14,000 feet to the greenery below….do I really want to do this… “Ohhhhh expletive, expletive”… then BonBon, my guide, tipped us forward out the door, and down we went at breakneck, earsplitting speed. But more about that later.
The morning had begun around 9:45 for 4 adventuresome people (and understanding spouses) at the Skydive New England airport in West Lebanon, Maine. Our party included Joe Loughran, me, and Gail Miller’s son Bill from Sanford and daughter Christine from Philadelphia. We signed in at the office and waited for our 10:00scheduled “dry land training”, which consisted of signing our life away on disclaimers, receiving some instruction on how the program of tandem jumping works, then watching a video of a jump. I was glad to have watched Joe Loughran’s video of his first jump last year.
We waited a short while then were called to the Guide/Instructor room and were introduced to our guides for the day. Mine was BonBon, who has made more than 7000 jumps over the last 18 years. He got me some sneakers (he didn’t like the tread on my boots) and a jump suit to put on. He next explained about the harness and how to properly step into it, and get it arranged, and adjusted. He then explained that we’d be attached together in the plane, just before the jump. He gave me an eye shield, but no helmet so he wouldn’t get whacked in the face as I might thrash about as we left the plane. BonBon introduced me to my photographer, who started some of the filming.
A short time later, with the wind and clouds now favorable, we climbed up onto the shuttle vehicle that whisked us to the airplane at the end of the runway…four guides, four of us, two cameramen, and two or three licensed solo jumpers. We climbed into the plane and settled on the parallel metal benches, our two teams on each side, then the cameramen, and lastly, the other jumpers. Off we went, up through the puffy clouds, to settle at 14,100 feet. The last ones in were the first out, then our cameramen, one of whom hung onto a handle on the plane, then the right side bench emptied, then it was my turn…so I crab walked off toward the open door, with BonBon gently easing us toward the door, with his easy words of encouragement, until I was at the open door, looking down 14,000 feet, thinking to myself, “do I really want to do this…”, then “OH ..EXPLETIVE…” and out we go…
Then a slight upward tug as the stabilizer chute was released to cut our speed slightly…but still a fast descent. Our cameraman giving us a thumbs up and big smile, to be mimicked. Still going fast, and very noisy, face feeling distorted and hair blowing. Lots of pressure building in the ears, so I started chewing my gum and swallowing. Then BonBon released the main chute, and up we went with a big tug on the harness which held me to my guide.
And then we began floating, and suddenly it was all quiet and we began our slow descent, turning left to see the ocean, then right to see the White Mountains. Slowly, slowly we continued our descent for a number of minutes toward the airport from where we had begun this adventure. As we neared the ground, BonBon told me to extend my legs straight out, then a small bounce, then a smaller one and we settled onto mother Earth. With a big exhale. A lifetime memory, captured on film. What a ride!!
~ Greg Foster
Check out the video Greg had made by Skydive NE.