This idea was not my own. It was my mother's.

The topic of skydiving has been floating around in my family for a few years. It began when my mother came up with her 50th birthday "grand scheme", which involved her and my brother jumping out of a plane. Since he would be turning 21 during the same year she was turning 50, she wanted to go skydiving to celebrate. What was I, chopped liver? I guess she just assumed I wouldn't want to, and so began their little dream.

They jokingly talked about it over the years, until this year, when things got serious. Mom turned 50 in August, and my brother turned 21 at the end of September. Their skydiving inside joke was becoming a bit more real.

In early September my mom brought it up again - and this time it was different. She had been researching skydiving and everything involved to locations, weather, videos, and even horror stories (yes, things CAN go wrong when you jump out of a perfectly good plane). She wanted to do it. She wanted my brother to do it. And for the first time...

she wanted me to do it.

I laughed, and jokingly got mad that she'd never asked me before so I just assumed this wasn't something we were going to do together. Mom assured me that she wanted all of us to do it so with a little bit of hesitation, I agreed. When I say I hesitated only "a little bit", I mean it. Skydiving wasn't something I was necessarily afraid of. If you must know, tornadoes are my biggest irrational fear - and if there is anything I shouldn't be afraid of, it's tornadoes. However, I AM afraid of heights. I can't stand on a chair without getting dizzy and teetering around like a bear on stilts. But the funny thing is that the idea of skydiving felt so unreal that I wasn't afraid.

My mom and I flew to Montreal this summer, and at 10,000 feet we both leaned over to look out the window. We agreed that it was high but that (like I said above) it seemed... unreal. That's the only way we could really manage to describe it, and she wasn't really afraid either.

I kept thinking that as the day got closer I'd be more afraid. It didn't happen.

The day came. I woke up on October 13th wide awake, and it STILL felt unreal. My brother's girlfriend was going to jump out with me, since it began as something between my mom and brother and only two people can jump at a time. This was okay with me - I was just happy to be able to go! She had jumped before in Australia, so I was jumping with the "experienced" one. Mom's fiance thought we were all crazy and only came along for moral support. We were on our way, and I was still waiting to feel nervous. We arrived in the Valley and the weather was much the same as it was in Halifax that morning. Sunny and 6 degrees, the coldest day so far this fall. We talked to the other people there, and had a little briefing session with our tandem instructors. It was really happening.

Mom and my brother jumped first, shortly after noon. Mom landed softly, and it looked like the perfect landing. My brother wasn't so lucky. Falling about 20 seconds after her ,we saw them coming in for a landing when, all of a sudden, they seemed to drop out of mid-air. They landed hard, and my brother didn't get up right away. We were quite shocked! They were fine, and walked over to us shortly after. Apparently that never happens, but because it was so windy it was uncontrollable. NOW I was feeling a little nervous, but not as badly as I expected to feel. The instructors had to have a meeting, to see if it was safe for us to jump. The conditions weren't the best even though it was so sunny. We waited for a long time, and I started thinking that we weren't going to be able to go. But they finally decided that it would be okay.. and we started getting our gear on.

This was it. We were all geared up. The next thing I know, I have a camera in my face asking me how I was feeling as we walked to the plane. This plane was TINY. There were four of us in the back, and the pilot in the front. The plane took off, and the climb to 10,000 feet took about 20 minutes. I was so excited. I was the first to jump, and my tandem instructor, Dave, opened the door. Okay, now I can finally say I was scared. I skipped being nervous and went right to a feeling of pure terror.


I didn't have time to think. Before I knew it, the countdown was over and I was free falling from a perfectly good airplane. What a rush. I couldn't hear anything but the wind blowing past and my breathing. Well, more like gasping. You know how sometimes your breath gets caught when you stick your head out of a moving vehicle? Multiply that by one hundred. I was TERRIFIED during that half-second free-fall. I can't wait to get my video back to see the fear that I am sure is plastered across my face! The parachute was finally pulled, and I am sure after some screams and muffled curse words I became relaxed. What a feeling. Drifting back to earth is probably the most relaxing thing I have ever done, which followed the easily most terrifying thing I had ever done.

The whole trip, from takeoff to landing, took about 25 minutes. We both landed relatively fine, so my brother's landing was just a freak thing. I completely recommend skydiving to anyone with even the slightest desire to do it. I knew I'd regret not doing it, so I went for it. We are already planning to go next summer (when it's warmer!) and my mom's fiance is even considering it after seeing how much fun we had.

-Rachelle Clothier