Madness at 12,000 Feet!


Recently a group of my friends and I went to Gatlinburg to celebrate a friend’s birthday. It has been his lifelong dream to skydive and being the people-pleasing (LOL) gal that I am I decided to make that dream come true for him.

Originally there were 5 of us that were going to make the 12,000 foot jump but as the big day approached, one by one our friends backed out. I guess I can’t blame them. I probably would’ve chickened out too if I had allowed myself to dwell on the fact that I’d just paid the deposit to hurl my body 12,000 feet to the ground in a 120 mph freefall. I chose to not think about

Saturday morning we drove toward Bristol, TN following detailed directions that included phrases like “Fish Hatchery” and “Past the old barn with the cornfield”. For some reason, I was under the impression that we were going to an airport… silly eL. We actually drove past the drop zone the first time because I refused to accept the fact that we really might have just passed a runway that was cut through the middle of the wheat field.

After turning the car around and questioning my judgment and sanity for the five minute ride back we arrived at the site. We parked next to a porta-potty and were greeted by “Bobby” our flight instructor. Bobby handed us our liability waivers that we had to initial next to sentences like “In case of death or dismemberment…” All I could think about was, “OMG, I don’t have health insurance” and “Did I remember to tell my sister that my life insurance papers and my Will are in my office?”


During my time of high anxiety Bobby looked at me and said, “Thinking this might have been a bad idea?”

Geez. You think?

We had a five minute class behind the plywood covered platform that served as the office, gear prep area, and lobby. We learned valuable flight terms such as “Aoogah!” and “Fabulous!” and why it is important to kick your tandem partner in the butt with your feet during freefall.

The next lesson I learned in Skydiving 101: You’re not doing it right if you don’t look ridiculous.

Not a word.


Enough said.

Finally I kissed my children goodbye, told my friend he’d BETTER love me for doing this and Bobby and I went up in the plane. It was a long ride and every moment of it was breathtaking. We were over the Smoky Mountains which ironically were VERY smoky that day due to forest fires. (As if jumping out of a plane isn’t enough, let’s do it over a burning landscape!) The plane began getting lost in the clouds and as the ground started looking more like a patchwork quilt than terrain I asked Bobby, “So how high are we?”

He checked his gauge. “Just over 3,000 feet.”

Oh hell.

Our test jumper climbed out of the plane at about 5,000 feet. It was his job to test the wind to see where we should jump so we could land at the right place. Our test jumper was and eighty year old man. That alone was worth the day. He was my hero.

About seven minutes later Bobby nudged me. “This is it.”

I swallowed hard and scooted to the front of the plane. The door swooshed open and the howling wind deafened me. I put one foot out on the wing and clung to the other side for dear life. I was strapped to Bobby so I knew as I dangled out of the side of the plane I had no choice but to go when he went. There was no turning back. We were so high it felt like we were jumping out of a space shuttle rather than a plane, but before I had a chance to get too freaked out we were plummeting to the earth below.

About three seconds into freefall your stomach catches up with the rest of your body and you no longer feel like you are falling. It really is like flying… in a downward direction of course. You can’t see very much during freefall or breathe for that matter with the wind rushing in your face, but it’s one of the coolest feelings I’ve ever had.

When the parachute deployed and we were jerked to a stop. I relaxed. It’s always a good sign with the chute goes up. Spare any homicidal birds or floating embers from the fire we were out of harms way.

The view was unreal. The fires were still burning, but off at a safe distance and the horizon was spectacular. It amazed me how there could actually be people in the world that didn’t believe in a Creator . There is no way I could imagine that what I saw from 12,000 feet was just there by chance.

With Bobby strapped to my back and the harness straps cutting off the blood flow to my legs we continued our descent to the ground. Thankfully when we reached the Earth, I was there to break Bobby’s fall. I laid there for a moment taking in all of what I’d just experienced until our camera guy offered me his hand and said, “You can get up now, ya know?”

Canaan and Will were running toward me and my friends were furiously waving from the other side of the field.

So I add the experience to a long list of adjectives for myself. I am a mom, a computer nerd, a skydiver and now officially… a badass.


Thanks to our new friends at Skydive Smoky Mountains!


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