In February of 2001, I bought my then girlfriend, Dayna McKay, something unique for her birthday. The thought was something that we could both do, something that she had been wanting to do, and something adventurous. As the title no doubt suggests, I got her a skydiving package in San Marcos, Texas. She sat on the gift certificate for several months until over the summer of '01, she finally decided that we would make the trip down there and jump. It took 30 minutes to drive to San Marcos, 4 hours to sit around and train, and about 4 minutes to fall from 12,000 ft in the sky.
Dayna and I getting ready to make our jumps.
Dayna and I arrived sometime around noon on the 28th of July at the facility in San Marcos. After the initial greetings and watching a few people make their descents, we decided that it was time to get in gear -- in this case, literally. We began going through the 30 or so minute training course that ultimately prepares you for what you are about to experience. They show you very basic drills such as how to hold yourself in the air, how to prepare for landing, and small drills in between.
Making the Jumps
To anyone who has never tried skydiving, I would highly advise it. As far as a quick rush, it's most certainly up there. Oddly enough, however, I found that the ride down on the parachute was actually more exciting than the initial free fall. This was mostly in part to the fact that it was considerably more controllable, and I could force myself into a number of sideways G-forces by playing with the parachute strings. My tandem master, Jeff, was pretty good at letting me do more or less whatever I wanted to do with the chute and I think appreciated my fearless attitude.
Dayna's ride down was considerably more interesting than was mine. Her freefall went about the same as anyone elses might, however when it came time to pull the parachute, their was some sort of failure. Apparently the chute popped out, but a number of the strings had crossed and her tandem master knew that they were falling much too quickly to make a safe tandem landing. He did what he could for awhile but in the end decided that he was going to have to cut them free with his knife and pull the reserve chute before it was too late. As Dayna told me, when he began pulling out his knife, a swift gust of wind swept through and the strings naturally seperated themselves. They were way off target but otherwise made a safe landing.
Notes on the Video
I have included a video of this particular event that was made by Skydive San Marcos. The videographer was Kyle. The capture is a little choppy and as soon as I can get a faster card, I will redo the video.