By Tommy Steward
I don’t know exactly why, but ever since I knew that there was such a thing as jumping out of a plane for fun I had already made up my mind that I would do it someday. As the years went on I still really wanted to go skydiving but figured it would just be one of those things that would fall to the wayside unless you happen to know someone who does it semi-frequently. My best friend in college and I continued this tradition for several years - always saying that we wanted to go on our birthdays but never getting around to doing it.
Finally, on my 27th birthday, Nate and I drove out to Santa Barbara and decided to take the plunge. I remember the whole car ride there was mostly silent…the prospect of jumping out of an airplane tends to make you reflect a little if you’ve never done it before. I was actually surprised how much less intimidated I was during the training beforehand, but once you get in the sky it is a different beast altogether.
I don’t think the gravity of a situation has ever set in more than when the person we rode up with jumped out at 5,000 ft. I thought for sure that this was where we’d be jumping out too but was then informed that not only do we still have a ways to go – we have 8,000 ft. more to climb! I just remember looking down towards the ground and having to shake one more bit of nerves. I’m not gonna lie – it looked like we couldn’t be higher up when we were at 5,000 ft.
Once we got to our maximum altitude, I got a few last second instructions and then burst into the sky. It was the most liberating feeling I’ve ever experienced in my life! It seems like you really can see everything for the first time; falling towards the earth from that high up gives you a perspective you can’t get from an airplane. Once I reached the ground, Nate and I high-fived and were giddy the rest of the night. We accomplished more than just jumping out of an airplane – we fulfilled a dream we’d had since we were freshmen in college. This experience taught me that the things in life that seem unattainable are always within your reach; even if that thing is looking down at the world from 13,000 ft. up.