TERROR AT 13,000 FEET

FEELINGS OF FEAR & TERROR • GIVE WAY TO ECSTASY AND JOY

Story By Leslie Krouse
Images By SkyDive San Diego

One thing about Revolt In Style, we (the owners) pride ourselves on the fact that if we wouldn’t personally, try it, taste it, wear it, drink it, or do it ourselves, it doesn’t go in the magazine.   We feel it is our moral obligation to sacrifice ourselves for you.   So when Brian and I decided to thrust our bodies out of a perfectly good airplane at 13,000 feet, well, it’s just another day at the office.  Lets go back a few years.  For some reason unbeknownst to me, I’ve developed an insane fear of heights.  The bunny hill has become a mountain.  I don’t quite know where it came from, but I knew it had to go.  I had always said, “I think the only way I’m going to get rid of this fear, is to jump out of a plane”.  Crap, the opportunity came up with our new partner, Skydive San Diego, so undoubtedly, I had to put my money where my mouth is, and just go for it.

So the day arrived.  Blake (GM of SkyDive San Diego) called saying, “it’s socked in and we may need to reschedule”.  Cool, A ton of bricks just lifted off my back.  It’s Monday morning, this is too much stress; I’m not a big fan of Mondays in the first place. Well, that was short lived.  Blake called back about an hour later telling us to get over there “right away”.  I have to admit, I have one of the most over active imaginations that any person should ever have.  All these scenarios started racing through my head. What if the guy I’m jumping with just broke-up with his girlfriend, or he just got evicted, or is going bankrupt, or he has a heart attack on the way down, or he just plain hates life.  I mean, it could happen. You hear about these things, don’t you?  Needless to say, I had myself so completely freaked out on the way over there, I ended up in tears. I don’t want to die. I know…drama queen.

We arrive around 11:30am, filled out all the necessary paperwork, watched a video, then proceeded outside to get rigged up. This is when I met Nick Boyd, the person whose hands I’m putting my life into. So, of course I had to ask the questions.  How’s your life, everything good? Now, what I should have been asking was, how many jumps have you had, how long have you been working here, etc. I think I had myself so petrified, that it didn’t occur to me to find out any pertinent information.  As Nick was strapping me in, I heard him comment about being late for work.  Late for work? You don’t work here? Before I could ask him to clarify this, I was whisked away to talk to the video cameras.

The next thing I know, we were being led to the plane. I climbed in first, Nick follows, but he’s not sitting across from me…odd.  So, I’m sitting in the corner of the plane, just behind the pilot. Just as we start rolling Nick yells to the pilot, “Can you radio down that I’m going to be about 5 minutes late for work?” Then the guys sitting straight across from me, asked Nick “Why are you jumping tandem?” Like he has never done this before.  So, here I go again with the scenarios.  Did they stick me with the janitor?  Why is he so worried about being late for work?  How come that guy asked him why he’s jumping tandem?  Who is this guy I’m strapped to?  Shit, it’s time to jump.  This is the moment that I realized, I’m the last person to jump out of this plane.  Crap. How can I get out of this?  The mental pinball machine in my head was getting exhausting. Wait, I’m at the edge of the plane. Quick, put the brakes on.  You can stop this. HOLY SHIT!!! We are way the f**k up here. I think Nick sensed my apprehension, because I couldn’t take my eyes off the ground.  They always say “Don’t look down”.  I found out why. You become paralyzed with fear.  So he grabbed my forehead, pulled my head back, rocked, and we were out. I don’t think I have ever been so terrified in my entire life.

Then it occurs to me, the cameras, and the videos, are focused on my every move/expression.  Smile, wave to the camera, I had to repeat this over and over to myself.  Hyperventilating at 120 mph with a smile on your face is not as easy as it sounds.  They say the freefall, which lasts about a minute, for most people, goes by in a flash.  I think it lasted about 12 hours for me, or at least seemed that way.  Then the chute popped open.  Talk about slamming on the brakes.  I don’t think you really realize how fast you are going until you stop, and the other guys don’t.  Aahh, I can see all of San Diego, look how beautiful this city is.  At that moment a sense of peace and calm came over me.  Nick pointed to a Hawk that was coasting in the breeze, and I was right there with him.  I was finally flying with the birds.  It’s so amazing.   “We are coming in for a landing”, Nick tells me “ Pick up your feet. Now stand up.”   Smooth, my feet are back on the ground.  I’M  ALIVE.  I did it.  Wow, it’s over.  Wait!  It’s over, but it just started.  But,  I didn’t need to freak out so much; I need to try this again.  I want a do-over.  I need a mulligan.

Nick unhooks me and takes off to work.  Blake came up and asked how it went.  “Well, what does the guy I just jumped with do here?” I asked.   Blake proceeds to tell me that Nick trains all the Navy Seals, and has over 6,000 jumps under his belt.  “If you’re in the Military in San Diego, you are trained by Skydive San Diego” states Blake.  So it turns out, one of the top guys, in probably the world, literally had my back.  I wish I would have known this prior; it may have made a little difference to my psyche.  Probably not.

What an incredible experience.  I think everyone needs to put this on his or her bucket list.  Now, I’ve been asked if this has made a difference with my fear.  Well, on some small scale I’d have to say yes.  Hills that use to make me nervous riding my bike down, don’t.  I can now ride down them with no hands, and no fear.  So for now, yes.  But we will have to see in the winter, on the mountain.  I’ll keep you informed.  BTY, if anyone wants to jump, I’ll go with you.

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