A couple weeks back I was researching things to do in Atlanta and skydiving was one of the suggestions. I had this on the backburner of my ‘things-to-do’ list for a long time, so I figured ‘why not?’. Probably more memorable to do it in Georgia than in my home state, so I booked it. On the morning of the Falcons Sunday night home opener in Atlanta, I hopped in my rental car and drove about an hour north on I-75 to the SkyDive SpaceLand in Rockmart, GA.
During the ride up, I was surprisingly calm – enjoying the scenery and listening to my music. Turning off of I-75, I went down a string of county roads each getting more ‘back-woodsy’ than the last. I arrived at the site 20 minutes early, took a tour of the grounds then went in and introduced myself.
It was me and one other ‘first-timer’ going up this morning along with a group of regular hobbyists – a few seemed a little ‘eccentric’. Me and the other ‘first-timer’ were led into a room where we watched a brief instructional video which spent about 10 minutes going over everything that could go wrong. Then I had to read and sign a 15-page waiver that included in bold letters the words incapacitation, paralysis and death. Still – strangely not nervous yet.
They then suited us up like we were in top gun and led us to a shuttle out to the airfield. The takeoff was smooth. I had paid a little extra for a personal videographer who would jump with me and film the whole thing. This guy interviewed me on the ground before we took off then again while we were up in the plane.
When we reached 14,000 feet, the door was opened and the recreational jumpers went out first. Ok, now I was getting a little nervous, but was still a lot more excited. After all the hobbyists had made their jumps, I was up next. The initial free fall was insane. I was dropping at a rate of 200 feet per second. I remembered to get into the proper position and check my altimeter. My videographer signaled for me to give a thumps up, but I gave him the finger instead. The free fall was only about 60 seconds but it may have been the most exhilarating 60 seconds of my frigging life. At about 6,000 feet from the ground I pulled the chute cord. From there we glided down with me steering the chute toward the targeted landing spot. The landing was perfectly smooth. After kissing the ground, the videographer did one final interview. I was tempted to go up again – but it would have cost me another hour or so plus another 200 bucks. Maybe I’ll do it again some other day.
On the ride back to Atlanta, I was filled with adrenaline and energy. I stopping at a Waffle House to reward myself with a large hashbrown smothered, covered and capped and a chocolate chip waffle for dessert. then I drove into Buckhead ending up at the Industry Tavern to have a few beers and watch the afternoon football games before heading to Mercedes Benz Stadium for the Sunday night game.