I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life, but usually not intentionally.
I went skydiving last Sunday, and without question, it’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever done in my life.
I generally don’t do crazy things unless I have a good reason to do it. My friend and colleague Trevor Wayne is quite the opposite of me. He very much does things just for an experience, so when he invited me to go skydiving for his 26th birthday it really didn’t surprise me even though I am well aware of his fear of heights.
We were supposed to jump out of an airplane on January 8, but the skydiving school cancelled our dive due to poor weather conditions. I was quite happy, because I was not my normal self. Comedian friends had been passing away one after another due to illnesses and accidents they could not control. Here I was, choosing to participate in an activity that laughed directly in death’s face. It just didn’t seem right.
I spent that extra week conducting research to ease my mind. I asked friends who had skydived what it felt like. I also found out that only something like 1 in every 100,000 people die from skydiving. That extra week of research got me back to my normal self.
Trevor rescheduled the trip and I was psyched to go. My excitement was quickly shattered, because the forecast called for rain. By canceling our trip two times in a row I couldn’t help but feel that the universe was sending me a sign not to jump. Trevor then rescheduled the jump for January 29 and I knew I couldn’t back out. I had spent nearly a month telling everyone about my intentions to risk my life. I would have looked like a pussy if I backed out.
Ultimately, even though I prefer to be alone most of the time, I knew I would never skydive unless I did it with other people. And I knew it would have to be with Trevor, because it’s no coincidence that some of the craziest experiences of my life have been with him.
Trevor was at the dinner table when Suge Knight made me touch the bullet in his head. Trevor ran down Rodeo Drive with me to deliver life-sized cardboard cutouts of us to Ron Howard & Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment to get a pitch meeting. And Trevor was with me when I talked our way out of being arrested in Hollywood.
Other people in Trevor’s life had the same feeling that skydiving required a commune, because six other people joined, five of whom had never done it before. It was certainly an interesting group of people since Trevor is a paparazzo for TMZ. Some of his co-workers joined, in addition to his roommate Brandon Holley, who is also a good friend of mine.
Brandon, aka “Branville” is a clothing designer and also happens to be the personal assistant to a very well known musical artist. He is by far the craziest person I know. He’s always the life of the party, and I guarantee you’ve never met anyone who rages harder than him.
Brandon has more lives than a cat, so I knew if he was going skydiving then I would survive, because he survives everything. I know that doesn’t make sense, but I was searching for something to grasp on to.
I wasn’t nervous in the hours before the jump. I was actually quite calm. I think I got rid of all the nerves in the prior weeks. I could tell that Trevor and Brandon had a lot of nervous energy though. Judge for yourself and take a look at the footage of our drive from North Hollywood to Perris.
Once we got to the skydiving school it suddenly became serious as we saw people parachuting downward. A lady met us and took us into a room where she pressed play on a video that was supposed to teach us about what we were about to experience. We paid attention for the first few seconds, then started making jokes, and the rest of the video was no longer audible.
From there, we were taken to another room where the lady made us fill out some paperwork, and give a testimonial on camera that we were jumping based on our own free will, so that if something did go wrong then our families couldn’t sue.
I had to lie on my paperwork because it asked if I had any illnesses that would prevent me from jumping. It listed diabetes as an example. I didn’t want to risk them not allowing me to jump, so I didn’t list it.
After we signed our lives away, we paid up, took a bathroom break, checked out the premises, and our names were called over the loudspeaker.
We were taken to get geared up and introduced to the person we’d be attached to and in charge of our lives 12,5000 feet up in the sky. My jump instructor Brett introduced himself, and said that when it was our turn to exit the plane that I should get on my right knee, rock once to my left, then once to my right and then out the airplane door. That was it.
I thought we were going to have to go through a whole class, in a room fully equipped with a chalkboard or something. I simply prayed that there was nothing important on that video we joked our way through.
As we walked our way to the plane, Brett said I didn’t look nervous. Truthfully, I wasn’t worried at all. He said it would probably hit me once we were on the plane though. It didn’t.
The plane ride up to 12,500 feet lasted about 10 minutes. I was sitting in between Brandon & his jump instructor and Trevor & his jump instructor. As we reached the destined height, our instructors told us to sit in their lap. That’s not the first time another dude has made that request of me, but it’s certainly the first time I obliged.
Our instructors strapped us on to them. I gave a fist pound to Trevor, who looked more pale than milk and then I shot a look over to Brandon who looked like Trevor’s mirror image. It still hadn’t hit me, and I still wasn’t frightened. I told Trevor, “I’m scared that I’m not scared,” and then walked toward the open door. The strap over my left shoulder was somewhat loose, and slipped off for a second. I immediately put it right back on, and didn’t think about that until later.
I left my body at that point. Somehow I got on my right knee, rocked to my left, rocked to my right, and threw me and Brett out the open door. I was told that in the first few seconds before I hit maximum speed during the free fall that I’d get that pit in my stomach feeling you experience on a roller coaster. That feeling never came, which means I am more likely to skydive again then take a seat on a roller coaster.
I was told that we freefell for a minute. That was by far the quickest minute of my life. It’s a feeling that is incomparable to any other feeling. I was not frightened at all. I didn’t even think once about the possibility that either of the parachutes wouldn’t open. I simply enjoyed the view of the Perris mountain range and the feeling of being weightless.
Before the flight, Brett told me how to pull the parachute cord, but I told him I’d leave that up to him and his 25 years of jump experience. If he needed a joke at the 5,000 feet level to save our lives then I told him to tap me on the shoulder.
Once he pulled open the parachute, the noise from the freefall stopped, and it was such a sudden shock that I felt like I died. Nothing was audible. Then Brett shouted, “The chute opened. It’s smooth sailing from here. Now try to find some words to describe that.”
The parachuting part was fun, but it doesn’t compare to the adrenaline rush from the freefall. It’s a little awkward dangling there, even though the view is awesome. Other than needing that part of the process to live, I could do without it.
Once we got closer to the ground Brett told me to lift my legs because we were going to land on our ass. When my butt hit the grass I felt a sense of relief while holding on to the adrenaline of the experience. I got up off the ground, gave a hug to Brett, and walked over to Brandon and the other guys who landed before me. We then watched as Trevor came down.
Something didn’t look right as he was approaching. He wasn’t lifting his feet, and he looked really limp. Once he landed, he laid on his stomach for a minute, and his jump instructor checked on him. I approached and he lifted his head, so I knew he was OK. He told us that he nearly blacked out, almost threw up, and that the left side of his body went numb after the free fall.
Once he reached ground, he said he couldn’t wait to do it again. Brandon immediately said he wanted to try base-jumping. As for me, I think I’m good never doing it again.
It was a great experience, but I didn’t really feel the extreme rush that I was expecting, which seemed like everyone else experienced. I wasn’t afraid going into it. I wasn’t nervous during the process. I get more of a rush writing something under a tight deadline. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, because the way people talked about it going into it I was expecting a way more intense feeling, almost life changing, like some had described.
After a few minutes back on the ground, I texted friends and family that I landed safely. A few weeks prior to the initial jump I informed my Mom of my intent, and she told me not to tell her when I was doing it, and just to tell her when I landed. When I called her after the fact, she was fascinated by my details of the experience, knowing then that I was safe. The reaction that shocked me the most was when I told my Grandfather, and he responded by telling me that he did it over 60 years ago when he was in the military. He signed up to be a paratrooper in the Korean War before ending up as a machine gunner. I don’t think anyone else in the family knew about his daredevil intentions. Maybe war-like circumstances would’ve given me the rush I was looking for.
Regardless, skydiving is definitely something that I recommend, because despite my calm attitude it was a fun experience. The best part for me is that I am able to say this crazy statement: “I’ve jumped out of an airplane.”
I am afraid, however, to find out what experience will make me crap my pants.
Video of my skydive can be seen here. It starts shortly after the school’s promo. My favorite part is that I didn’t even realize what my face was doing, and that my chain kept nailing my instructor in the face.