By Jerri Hansen, Cottages at Cape Kiwanda Concierge at large
In an attempt at finding interesting day trips for our guests at the Cottages at Cape Kiwanda, my friend, Nanci, and I traveled an hour and a half east to Molalla, Oregon for a thrilling adventure at Skydive Oregon. This was my second jump so I knew a bit of what to expect, but it was Nanci's first. We were both very excited and a bit nervous after arriving and signing the many pages of legalese stating that we are agreeing to jump out of an airplane attached to a total stranger at our own risk! Needless to say, our adrenaline was running high, but as we waited for our turn we got to watch others take their plunge. It was great watching the plane take off, climb higher and higher to reach altitude, and then listen for it overhead when the engine slowed while the jumpers exited. You could hear the engines suddenly accelerate as the plane dove toward earth to quickly land at the airport and board the next nervous group. That was the cue to crane our necks, scan the sky and search for the colorful parachutes to open and watch them descend, floating gracefully on the wind and land accompanied by whoops of joy!
About an hour before our turn, we attended a safety school. This tutelage was to make sure we knew what to expect, where to put our hands and feet and to answer any questions. Half an hour later we were summoned to the parachute room to meet with our tandem partners, don our harnesses and receive final instructions. We were totally jazzed! My tandem partner, Matt, was also one of Skydive Oregon's pilots. He kept a very interesting conversation going with me while we boarded the plane, took-off, gained altitude, all the while checking the instruments and continuously securing and double checking all of our harness attachments. Since we were the first people in the plane, we would be last out, with Nanci jumping right ahead of us. She was being filmed by a videographer who was jumping with her. As soon as we scooted down the benches behind Nanci, Matt told me to check out all the mountains on the horizon as we jumped, that he would turn us around to see them all and then we would also be able to see the plane diving. As I was sitting on the edge of the giant door at 15,000 feet, I looked out at the horizon and I could see Mt. Hood and St. Helens silhouetted aginast the evening sky, then whoosh we were falling, falling in an exhilarating rush. I remembered to put my feet on Matt's butt and my hands out to my sides with my elbows bent as instructed and he turned us around to see Mt. Adams, Rainer, and Jefferson - their snowy peaks turning pink with the setting sun - what a complete thrill! I was laughing and hollering with joy and totally taking in the experience as we watched the plane descend. The falling is not like going over the top of a ferris wheel, you don't have that sensation; it is just a wild rush of wind. After diving for 10,000 feet, it was time to open the parachute, Matt reminded me to cross my arms over my chest and he pulled the cord. There was no jerking, perhaps a pulling up, but mostly you hear the sound of the chute opening and the quietude of floating instead of the rushing air of falling. It is so beautiful in the area around Molalla from the air, lots of farming, nurseries, etc.; it looks like a patchwork quilt. Since this was my second jump, Matt let me steer and instructed me in doing a few tight turns, so fun! All too soon the ground was fast approaching and Matt took back the controls to land us on our feet at the airport. What an unforgettable journey! Nanci and I highly recommend this memory making experience; would you like to join us next summer?