The Jump, Part I
I sat there, legs dangling out of a plane 12,000 feet up in the sky, wondering what exactly parachutes are made of.
“You ready for this?” The ex-military instructor screamed in my ear. I mumbled something between Yeah and Oh-lord-please-no-I-want-to-go-home, but the wind swept my words away.
“Alright! Let’s do this!” He grabbed my shoulder. With a three-two-one, my world lurched. I watched a small white plane fly away as we back flipped toward the earth.
Skydive Temple is one of the few full-scale skydiving zones in Central Texas. Located in Salado, Texas, it is a gathering point for extreme sports nuts across the area. You may have seen it while driving between DFW and Austin.It’s the happy blue and green building with manicured gardens and people falling from the sky.
Mark and Penny own the place, and they brought the Austinot in to sit and chat about their business.
I asked Penny why she and her husband run such a unique business. “Sky diving is really social; we’re a big family here,” Penny said. “Everybody here hangs out and really loves to skydive. We love providing it to the community and showing new people what it’s like.”
Family business is right. Everything about Skydive Temple is low-key and informal. My jump was scheduled for 10:00 in the morning, so I had time to meet the regulars. When I think about the type of people who like to skydive, I think about young guys with spikey hair and dirt bikes. Your typical X-TREME sports kind of guys.
Those guys were around, of course. I was surprised, though, by the range of people mingling and chatting in their jump uniforms. I used to think that skydiving “wasn’t for me,” but I quickly learned that skydiving can be for anybody. Men and women from all walks of life sat outside the Skydive Temple cafe, waiting for the plane to pull up.
Penny broke it down for me during our interview. “People are afraid of skydiving, and a lot of people back out before getting in the plane. We will get groups of people reserve spots weeks in advance. When the day comes, though, everybody will jump ship except one or two people.” She pointed to a couple of young women nearby who were strapping on their safety harnesses.
“But once they jump, they realize that it’s the most fun they have ever had.”
The Jump, Part II
People ask me what skydiving feels like, if it is scary. The best response I can give is an unhelpful yes and no. I did my best to be brave during the whole experience. I was jumping out of a moving plane, though, so a little bit of anxiety is probably good.
The flight up is definitely the hardest part of the experience. I was the closest person to the open door, so I watched the cows and cars shrink as our small plane ascended. It also meant, I found out 12,000 feet later, that I was the first person to jump. We climbed higher and higher, until the view of the Central Texas countryside stretched on for miles. I marveled at the beautiful view until Phil told me it was time to make the jump.
So we jumped. I have to say, it’s nothing like what I expected. That rollercoaster feeling comes and goes in less than a second. I clenched my eyes shut when we started falling, but then I realized that I had just jumped out of a plane. There was nothing I could do, so I may as well enjoy the view.
And the view is wonderful. I was floating through the air, weightless. I saw Texas spread out past the horizon beneath me. The entire jump felt nothing like falling. It felt like flying. We fell 9,000 feet in sixty seconds. I felt the air get hotter as we approached the land. Then, just as abruptly as it started, I felt my body jerk upward as our parachute deployed. We glided into a safe landing back at the Skydive Temple headquarters.
Back on the Ground
When we landed, people ran up to unclip me from the chute and give me a high five. Everybody congratulated me on my first successful jump, and Penny gave me a certificate proving what I had accomplished.
It was a time for celebration and fun. Skydive Temple has an ice-cold keg of Shiner Bock on tap to enjoy after jumping. People sat down with me and asked about how it felt. We joked about funny things first-time jumpers have said and done before me.
I truly appreciate Skydive Temple for showing me their wonderful establishment. It didn’t feel like visiting a business. Spending a day with this group of people felt like going to a family reunion. Everybody laughed and clapped each other on the back. They are wonderful people who truly love what they do.
If you have ever thought about skydiving, Skydive Temple is the place for you. Skydive Temple is located at 15771 South IH-35 in Salado TX. Check out their website here.
Have you every skydived? If yes, what was it like? If no, what is stopping you?
Disclaimer: Skydive Temple provided me with a complimentary skydive jump. All opinions are my own.