Quadriplegic sky diving had never been on my bucket list. Even though I appreciate an adrenaline rush as much as the next guy, the idea of voluntarily
separating myself from an airplane at 7000 feet didn’t turn me on.

Yet I’m the Opportunities Guy and I have run a nonprofit to promote sports and recreation for over 10 years, so when I was invited to join a group of individuals with physical challenges including two other C5/C6 quadriplegic’s, how could I say no.

Well on second thought, I suppose I could’ve said no quite easily. But I figured I needed to take one for the team. Don’t get me wrong. I love airplanes and have been in helicopters including flying in Royal Gorge in Colorado. But once again, voluntary separation wasn’t something I thought I would ever do. But there I was getting instruction for tandem skydiving. After a half hour of guidance from the instructor and signing away all rights and responsibility, it was time to get geared up and ready to go.

I brought a great support group with me including my mother, sister and 10-year-old niece. They lifted me into the airplane and up we went. I love flying so this was not stressful at all. If you look at the video I’m relaxed and I have nice color in my face. It was the end of summer so I had a nice tan.  Then came the moment of truth! They slid me out towards the door of the airplane and my stomach dropped. We sat on the edge of the plane with my legs dangling and I got scared, my face blanched ghostly white, and I thought to myself what the bleep are you doing. I was staring straight at the ground 7000 feet down with nothing between me and all that open space. But there was no turning back at this point. I asked how long before the shoot opened and out we went. In my mind I started counting to 60. One, two, three. About one minute is what the the skydiving instructor had told me it would take before the shoot opened. When I finished counting to 60 and nothing happened I started to panic a little inside, but a few seconds later, I felt a jerk, the parachute opened, and we started to glide.

From there the view was beautiful. No longer terrified, I enjoy the rest of the ride down. As we made our final approach to the ground, the instructor grabbed the duct tape that was around my knees, pulled my knees up into my chest, and I landed on his lap. A few other people who went skydiving with me that day fell in love and have gone back several times. Not me! I’m glad I did it. But I enjoy watching the video a lot more than I enjoyed the actual jump.

Watch the video you’ll see what I mean.

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Charles Fleisher The Opportunities Guy
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