A few days ago in West Ocean City I had the good fortune to see one of the strangest yet probably one of the most awesome things I’ve ever seen: a couple of my friends jumping from a perfectly good airplane from a height of thousands of feet, far above the clouds. I was over at a friends house on the other side of town when a good friend of mine called me and told me to hurry up, that she was jumping out of an airplane in fifteen minutes for her birthday, and asked me if myself and another friend of mine wanted to come watch. I could not pass up that opportunity, so I hurried over to the Ocean City Airport and waited for the big jump.
When I arrived at the airport, I could not find my friend or her jumping partner, the only one there was an airport employee who directed me to the back and told me they were preparing for the jump, suiting up in an adjacent building. I learn that all new jumpers take a short course to be prepared for the big moment, and that on your first jump you have to be accompanied by an instructor/employee, who pulls you’re the cord that opens your parachute for you. I do not know about all of you, but if I actually ever worked up the nerve to jump out of an airplane, that is definitely a policy that I would be thankful for; I don’t know if I would be able to think straight enough to pull the chord myself.
I soon ran into my jumping friend’s family, and I knew her mother, who works at the local library.
She told me my friend who was jumping was both extremely excited and scared at the same time, and that she had not slept a wink the night before! My other friend who was jumping with her was acting supremely confident and not the least bit nervous, I was told. A few moments later, my friends came out with the instructors they would be skydiving with in their black and red harnesses, parachutes and straps. They both wave as they walked from the hanger where they prepped and suited up to plane, which had just fired up its engines. They drove at maybe twenty or thirty miles per hours down the runway, at which point the turned around giving the plane the full length of the pavement allowing it to reach the speed needed to take off. I have to confess, my friend on the ground, my skydiving friends family, and I were probably just as nervous watching them circle up into the sky as they were up there hundreds, then thousands, of feet up in the clouds.
We tried to follow the planes course, which seems circular and upward, as long as we could. It became such a tiny speck that we lost sight of it a few times, only to spot in again coming out of the cloud cover, spiraling ever higher in to the great blue firmament. The airport employee who greeted me when I arrived came out and told us all the were jumping any second and that we could go out on the runway to get a better view and better pictures, as there weren’t any planes landing any time soon. Then came the big moment that we had been anticipating.
It is a funny feeling seeing a lifelong friend hurtling toward the earth at an ever-increasing speed. From the height they has jumped at there was no way to tell which friend was which. It seemed like forever that they were both in just pure free falls. I honestly got an adrenaline just watching from the earth. After what seemed like an eternity, the first parachute opened up against the light blue background.
Next came a moment of not a little apprehension. All of us on the ground were under the impression that both of our loved ones had jumped with their accompanying instructors at the same time. We were all wondering why other parachute had not opened after thirty, then sixty, then ninety seconds went by. Then to everyone’s intense relief the second chute came open and we all breathed a sigh off relief. They each took about five minutes to drift back down to the home planet. They really looked like they were coming in to hard and fast but apparently that is just an illusion experienced by the spectator; both my friends reported that the landing was quite smooth. As soon as they landed, they were unhooked from their packs and escorted into a golf car that took them back to the hangar to get the remaining gear off, both of them a little drained and giggly from the adrenaline rollercoaster they both had just experienced.
One of the coolest things about the whole thing was that the friend whose birthday it was had paid for a video of the jump. I am sure that will be watched repeatedly throughout the years with laughs and joke about their great jump. If, like me, you wondered how safe it is to jump out of an airplane thousands of feet above the earth with nothing but some nylon to make sure you don’t plummet to your death here is the statistic: according to the United States Parachuting Association there were only 18 fatalities out of over 2.5 million jumps last year, with most of them being a result of a bad landing and not a parachute malfunction. Therefore, with the greatest respect to the eighteen fatalities, the chances are so slim they are barely worth even mentioning. If you would like to skydive in Ocean City, Maryland visit www.skydiveoc.com of call 1-800-OC-JUMPS or 410-213-1319 for info on rates, reservations, tandem jumps, videos, photos and more. Remember skydiving is just one of so many amazing things you can do during you vacation to Ocean City, Maryland. We truly are the finest family resort on the Atlantic (or the Pacific for that matter, but maybe that is just my East Coast pride talking). Watching my friends skydive was unquestionably one the most exhilarating spectacles I have ever had the fortune to see. I hope some day I will be able to work up the nerve or the courage needed to jump out of a plane. When that day comes, you can be sure I will post an article about my own experience at Ocean City Skydiving. Make sure you stay tuned; more articles will be coming soon. As always, thank you for taking the time to my bog, and I hope to see you at the beach!