13,000 feet above the earth in an airplane, the engines hum loudly in my ears. The red light flashes on, my brother and I move to the door and open it, letting in the fresh cool air. My mother and father are right behind us lined up ready to get in position. My brother, Sean, and I hang our heads out of the airplane and spot the airport, taking a second to silently check in with each other before climbing out… he has a huge smile on his face.
Much like the feeling of road trip in a mini van, which is a familiar memory from our childhood, we have been jammed in the fuselage of a caravan (airplane) for the last twenty minutes. My father directly behind me, brother to my left, and mother behind him. At ten thousand feet we all do our final handles and gear check, followed by our special family hand shake. Standard hand slap and knuckle bump, with an added heart shape made half with one hand and half with the others hand, then blow a kiss.
Sean and I move into position by the door and wait for the pilots signal. High above Sebastian Florida, the view out of the clear plexiglass door is awe inspiring. Red light. Door. Green light. We rotate our bodies outside the door of the airplane thousands of feet above earth, and my mother positions herself in between us, my father tight on her side still inside the aircraft. Inside our helmets all we can hear is the rush of the 100mph wind and the engines of the air plane, Sean signals the exit…. and we are off, in perfect unison.
Skydiving is one of the most beautiful feelings that a human can experience: weightlessness, serenity, flight. Although we are simply falling straight down, there is no sensation of falling, it fells more like floating… on air. To be able to share that with my family is beyond phenomenal.
I let go of the airplane a split second after my mother and brother leave together, it gives me a better view of them beneath me and the stunning Atlantic Ocean underneath them. My father and I are side by side, I take a moment and admire his skill and body position, proud daughter.
My father and I shared skydiving together for the first time 13 years ago. Immediately upon landing from our tandems we both looked into each others eyes grinning and knew that this was the beginning of something wonderful. Over the next few years we would complete our jump course, learn how to fly, and jump together hundreds of times. Coaxing my mother to fly with us by barraging her with countless video debriefs of our jumps together, she gave in and joined us in the sky a few years later.
It was amazing and humbling to watch my father and mother go through the process of learning to skydive. They have always been the pillars of strength, ability, and support, throughout my childhood teaching me much of what I know and do. To start on an adventure all together from the beginning was an interesting and rewarding experience. They both started in their mid fifties, a sport that has a harsh and difficult learning curve even if you are in your twenties. With athletic backgrounds, they excelled naturally in their own way.
Sean was a different story, a natural at every thing he does but very cautious. He started skydiving only five years ago, but like usual he progressed faster than any other student I have seen. He breezed through AFF and was sit flying by jump thirty, head down by jump sixty. He came out to Lodi for three weeks, left with sixty nine jumps and on his head. Now he is one of the best angle flyers in Florida and load organizer at Skydive Sebastian. Ninja.
Now we are having a casual family Sunday, plummeting towards the earth at 120 miles per hour together. My gaze transfers from my father to my mother below me, she is so graceful and elegant. Making small changes in my body position I lower myself to fly right above her and my brother. Sean is flying on his back looking up at us, and she is directly above him following his every movement. My father is off to our left, we move together taking cues from my brother in the lead. Like a flock of birds we fly together making turns in unison and leveling back out again. My heart is full. I lower my right foot down and gently place it on the back of my mother to surf her as we fall, the feeling is pure love and adoration for this moment together.
The whole skydive lasts just shy of sixty seconds, it is our third jump together of the day and we have time for a few more. As we reach five thousand feet we break off and fly off in different directions to deploy our parachutes. I am still close enough to keep them all with in my peripheral. I can see my mothers red parachute deploy.... my fathers blue parachute. I deploy mine, as I ride through the opening my brothers slow sabre2 finishes its opening sequence - seriously that thing has the longest snivel of any sabre2 I have ever seen! We fly back towards each other under our parachutes and get together as we fly to the landing area.
We all land together on the soft green grass, I kite my canopy over to where my brother is and dump it on his head. It is like we are kids again and the joy and energy feel much of the same as when we were younger and care free. The four of us walk in towards the packing hanger all chiming in about the skydive and talking over each other like Thanksgiving dinner. My brother stops by manafest and puts us all on the next load for another jump.