Jumping For Joy
I can still see it etched into my memory. A smile suddenly appears on my face as I close my eyes and picture the tall white fence with a simple sign welcoming me to “Jumptown.” I was so nervous leaving my house that morning I had neglected to bring my carefully written directions. But here I was, almost effortlessly, thanks to a kind gas station attendant, at what was going to be a great adventure. My palms started to sweat as I slowly drove through the gate. Aviation in general was new to me and I had no idea what to expect. The only planes I had ever been on were commercial jets, that keep me safely contained with the rest of my fellow passengers. I was told on several occasions that planes were for flying, not jumping out of. But I knew this wasn’t true, and as soon as I entered the Jumptown parking lot every bone in my body reaffirmed what I had already known. What a sight it was! I saw pinwheels and foxtails spinning and dancing, giving their colors to the wind and sky. There was a small garden with lawn chairs perfectly positioned to make viewing the heavens and the planes it holds that much more comfortable. To be honest I felt like I was home, and I had not even made it inside.
I parked the car and entered the building to be greeted warmly by every person I met, staff or not. There were pictures lining the walls full of smiling faces. Anyone could see this was a place full of people young at heart doing what they love and following their passions. Any trace of apprehension or fear was at this point replaced with excitement and eagerness. I was ready. I checked in and met my tandem jumper Gary. Gary was extremely professional and clearly stated what I could expect from my jump, what I needed to know about the equipment as well as free falling and landing techniques. But please, don’t confuse professionalism with a musty persona. He was so much fun and thinking about it now, he made jumping out of a plane feel so comfortable and easy it was like tying shoelaces. I suited up, put my harness on and turned around to see a young girl of about four years old watching me along with the handful of people cheerfully packing the day’s chutes. She gave me a high-five just as I heard my plane landing and I knew it was finally time. I loaded onto the plane with Gary, my photographer Dave, and a few other jumpers.
We took off and steadily climbed for altitude until we reached 1350.’ I tightened my harness, crouched down and on the count of three back-flipped out of the plane into pure ecstasy. There is no other way to describe the flood of emotions and adrenaline. It was like no other experience I have ever encountered. There was a colossal sense of freedom and I was exposed to a new perspective of the world around me that commanded my attention. I was free falling for just under a minute when Gary pulled my parachute. I floated down observing the vast landscape around me, a view I had only previously seen from a 6”x10” cabin window. We landed like a dream and I was smiling uncontrollably. I hugged the two men who had facilitated this experience and was truly grateful.
When I walked back inside, the other team members were there waiting to see how the experience went for me. They put the DVD Dave had made of my jump into a television and we sat together on the couch. At that moment, I felt like I became part of the family here at Jumptown. When the DVD ended, I made my rounds saying goodbye to everyone who had made this day truly amazing. I slowly drove out of the parking lot through that tall white fence, just as slowly as I drove in, and I couldn’t help but feel a little sad. I didn’t want to leave this incredible group of people I just met two hours earlier, but I knew I would be back. In the end I couldn’t help but the smile the entire drive home. Thank you Jumptown, especially Diane, Gary, and David, for this awesome experience.
By Jesse Johnson
For more information go to www.Jumptown.com. Or call Jumptown at Orange Municipal Airport, Orange MA 1-800-890-jump. Visit the best place to fly thru the air.