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Thrill of a lifetime three miles above ground: A personal account of experiencing flight

Posted on 06 November 2008 by Katelyn Ferral


Skydiving has always been something I’ve wanted to do, and since I’m known to much of the Marquette community as something of a maverick, I decided the last day of this year’s dive season was the day to do it.

So this past Sunday myself and a group of friends trekked down to Skydive Midwest, just south of Milwaukee, to fling ourselves out of an aircraft from 14,000 feet above ground. Was I scared? Well, of course loyal Warrior readers, I was scared. Did I die? Well, of course, loyal Warrior readers, I didn’t die.
I obviously asked for some reassuring statistics before jumping and learned that skydiving is statistically safer than cross-country driving or snowboarding. This didn’t come as much of a relief; however, after I was asked to release all liability from every Skydive Midwest employee and their mother upon my untimely death. I literally signed away my life in over 150 places. Seriously.

Those privileged enough to skydive with me that day included friends Catie Uggeri, Liz Driscoll, Tyler Bowlus and Deanna Anderson. They were fabulous dive partners, and we now share a special bond. All of them were so understanding about my pre-jump antics and really refrained from all mockery as I jumped around like I had Tourette’s before putting my life in jeopardy.

“Katelyn was clearly concerned about her jump,” said Catie Uggeri, a College of Arts and Sciences junior.

“She was ridiculously insane.” Yes, Catie, I suppose I was.

Ok, so here was the breakdown of activity just prior to my atmospheric leap. I put on a sweet aeronautical-like jumpsuit. I put on a harness. I began to sweat. I sat down. The plane arrived. I walked. Oh yes, I walked. And yes, it did feel like I was in Armageddon on a quest to save mankind. After a brief interrogation session with my skydive instructor, an experienced jumper from the Netherlands named Bas, where I drilled him on his qualifications and background, we boarded a tiny, tiny plane and were ready to jump within 15 minutes of taking off.

I climbed into the plane, and promptly placed a death grip upon the seat as my instructor strapped himself to my backside in preparation for our tandem jump. My jump instructor, was quite the joker. Oh yes, Bas was quite funny three miles above ground as he told me he wasn’t sure how to land and wasn’t sure if my harness was secure. It took all my might not to yak on him on the spot.

As we reached our final altitude, the small door opened. At this point, all mental capacity to complete brain function ceased and I mindlessly wobbled to the door and thrust myself into the white abyss.
And folks, it was awesome. There really are no words to describe it. We free fell at 130 miles per hour for 60 seconds from 14,000 feet. There is nothing like it. After a minute, the parachute opened and I felt like I was flying. Bas suddenly became the wise sage I always hoped he was and I was able to enjoy myself.
I could see all of Milwaukee and the shore of Lake Michigan. On clear days, you’re supposed to be able to see Chicago. The view was amazing, and for a short time, I felt a little like how God must feel when he looks down upon us every day.

“The scariest part was when you look out and just see clouds and know you’re going to jump with nothing underneath you,” said Liz Driscoll a junior in the College of Health Sciences.

And indeed folks it is. It was hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact I was dropping myself out of a moving aircraft. And once I got past that, it was great. I think Tyler Bowlus sums up the experience well.

“It was pretty frickin’ sweet,” said Bowlus, a College of Engineering junior. “It was the thrill of life time; I can’t even describe the thrill of just falling.”

I give the instructors and employees at Skydive Midwest two thumbs up. All were educated, funny and completely sane. My $155 was completely, totally and utterly worth it.

My friends, I highly, highly recommend making the trip. Complete your Jesuit education and quest for “cura personalis” with a low-risk skydive from the heavens. If I can do it, you can too.

“If you’ve ever considered skydiving, do it, don’t wait. If you’ve never considered it, you should,” said Uggeri.

1 Comments For This Post

  1. Chad Says:

    An absolutely brilliant piece written by a true maverick.

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