A Leif Falls from the Sky

A Leif Falls from the Sky

The view from the air was amazing. The plane was loud. The engine roar made conversation in the cabin almost impossible. The rented vest had the stench of body odor and disinfectant spray. Strapped to a skydiver about the same size, Leif felt trapped in his seat. The seat vibrated with the engine, making the half a seat even more uncomfortable and harder to stay seated. Twice during climb he almost fell completely off the seat, although the harness would only allow him to fall so far. The group leader opened the door.

"You ready?!" he yelled to the cabin. Everyone gave a thumbs up.

The first jumpers stood and walked to door. The new jumper gave a thumbs up that she was ready to go. Moments later, they fell to the Earth. The next jumpers approached the door, this time with a third jumper; the camera jumper. He stepped onto the strut and waited for the jumper. With his head camera ready, he gives a signal to go and they jump at the same time.

One more jumper neared the door, this time without a camera jumper. It was Leif's turn next. His instructor tapped him on the shoulders that it was time to stand. They rose from the seat as the other jumpers exited the plane. Approaching the door, Leif was amazed at the view. The island never looked so beautiful. He could see the roadways along the bottom of the hills near the shore. The lush greenery throughout the island made it look like an emerald. He felt blessed to be able to see the island from this viewpoint—he didn't have long to enjoy it.

Leif's instructor leaned forward, having already told him to roll as they exited. The fall wasn't jarring. As they completed their roll, they spread out and Leif felt so alive as the wind blew back his hair and they fell toward the ground. As the island got bigger and the ground came closer, Leif didn't want the experience to end.

When the chute was pulled, Leif missed the free-fall, but got to enjoy the view as they continued their descent. The instructor told Leif they would circle around the landing zone a couple of times before landing. As they landed, Leif's feet touched the ground softly, and the instructor reeled in the chute. The instructor disconnected the harness, and the two walked over to the shoreline.

"Well, how was it?" the instructor asked.

"It was incredible. How many jumps have you done?"

"This one was 3,424."

They looked out at the water together and Leif knew he wanted to jump that many times, and even more.

"C'mon, let's head back," the instructor said.

Years later, Leif jumped over an inactive volcano. He landed near the top, packed his chute and looked at the crater, amazed at all the places he had been. His friend Manny approached him after he landed.

"You okay," Manny asked.

"Yeah, let's head down."

As they hiked down the mountain, Manny and Leif discussed their skydiving experiences. Manny had only been jumping for a couple of years. Leif had just completed jump number 3,424.