Charlie has to peak from the car because dogs are interdit. We see the group before us get harnessed and walk to the type of van they use to kidnap people in movies. I look around. A few planes. A vintage car. A lot of men in jump suits. Chatter. Family members and friends milling about for the group that just left.
We are in a plane glider. It is a mix of adrenaline and testosterone.
I'm matched up with Phillip. Dark hair, sturdy, with a no-nonsense beard.
He introduced himself.
Have you been briefed yet?
No. (It all sounds so official, I thought, this briefing thing.)
He rounds us up, all those jumping. It ends up being four of us - all women - on what is about to happen which is: You are strapped in front of your jumping expert. When you exit the plane, your head goes back, belly to the sky, knees back between his. Then the landing - lift knees, hug up to the chest and so that when he lands (all the tandem flyers are guys), it is only one pair of feet that touch the ground.
OK, I think. I got this. So, of course, as soon as he finishes, I ask one of the girls to repeat what he said.
There is a lot of contraption. It is a bit heavy but the thrill of it all makes it light. There is a 3 minute van ride to the tarmac. Our plane arrives. It's so small. How is it going to fit all 10 of us??? 4 attached jumpers + 4 expert jumpers and 2 solo jumpers. The engine of the plane is loud, it is scrambling my thoughts.
We get in. Now it feels like like every 007 and Mission Impossible film as we straddle 2 benches. One couple is on the floor of the plane.
A lot of jokes between the guys. One of the girls is very nervous. I swear it wasn't me.
I am sitting with my back against Phillip on the bench, in a kind of sitting spoon. The views of the mountains are breathtaking. I have butterflies.
I notice a sticker of a smiling face on the Go Pro camera attached to my harness.
Who's that? I ask.
The last guy who died doing this, says nervous girl.
After 20 minutes, we reach 4000 meters.
The door opens. The tandem pairs drop out like apples from a very high tree. They sit on the edge of the plane. And then they're gone. Poof. Like a magic trick. We are second to last.
It's our turn.
I learn, I am not screamer. I am in fact, like Charlie who gets really quiet when he doesn't know what's about to happen. Then we're out. It's suddenly freezing and my skin feels like it's all moving every which way. It is, as I see later in the video. Liquid skin. Not a cute look, by any stretch of the imagination (pun intended).
Then at some point, the parachute opens and it is sudden serenity. Calm. Things come into focus.
Do you want to pilot?
Hell no!!! No merci, I say.
Phillip is making a lot of thumbs up signs.
Do you get sea sick?
Apparently that meant let's turn the parachute in dizzying bends and curves and circles.
Note to self: I don't scream when I fall at the 120 km/hour but I do scream at 20km when turning like a leaf swivelling off a tree in Autumn. Don't ask.
Landing is fast and easy. He lands on his butt. Well, technically our butts. But it's all good, as we've glided down slowly at this point.
This was, by far, one of the girls favourite adventures.