MELISSA JAHNKE: MY JOURNEY TO BECOMING A SKYDIVER – AFF LEVEL 4

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

July 27, 2014 – AFF 4
I have been spending every day thinking and dreaming of skydiving. I can’t wait to get back to the drop zone. I spend my week patiently waiting for the weekend to come. I have been taking advantage of the extra hours offered to me at work, and have been putting in 10 hour days 6 days a week. I am trying to earn as much extra money as possible to ensure I can finish my AFF course by October. I find myself ok until Thursday, and then I suddenly NEED to jump! I watch the weather patterns all week long, and pray so hard for a small window on Sunday that will allow from me to jump.

I received a special message from Alex on Facebook that claimed an “anonymous caller had just bought me two skydives.” I was shocked. My family always taught me if you want something bad enough you would find a way. I was taken back when I saw this news because it was unlike anything anyone had ever done for me to assist me in a goal that meant so much to me. I asked my family to accompany me to the drop zone to see me jump, and engaged in training. We made our way to Jefferson leaving at 6:00am sharp to arrive at the drop zone by 8:30 sharp. We offered to pull the airplanes out of the hangar and park them on the taxiway. I introduced everyone, and got signed in and ready to jump. I know they were nervous for me, but I was cool and collected, and ready to learn.

Bo and I went over the wind patterns. He showed me a new maneuver that would allow me to turn my body in a 360-degree fashion, both right and left. I was so excited I could barely take it. We were on the first load of the day, and I felt even more fortunate to be the first person to step into this sacred airspace on that Sunday morning. I looked at Bo and saw his big huge smile. Bo followed my count down, and we left the plane in such a stable method that I was instantly released to fly on my own. I did a PRCP and felt my whole body as I did my circle of awareness. I felt so alive! I began my turns, spun all the way around, and made eye contact with Bo and smiled. I turned again the other way. It seemed that I had so much time compared to other jumps. It was magical. My pull altitude came, and I carefully reached back and pulled steady and slowly.

My parachute opened beautifully!! I was kicking, clapping, and squealing in happiness! (I wonder if they heard my happy dance on the ground) Bo told me on the ride up to turn my canopy westerly, once my chute opened. The winds were higher than I had flown before so I made sure to listen. I was slightly disoriented as to where I was in relation to the target, so I searched for the other canopies, and watched them. Then I saw the target was directly behind me, and understood exactly what I needed to do to get to the target. I heard Bo tell me over the radio what an awesome jump I had just did, and I was filled with pride and happiness. I knew it was a good jump, and I loved every second of it!!! I definitely used Bo’s radio guidance so much more on this jump than the last, only because I didn’t want to make an error under the unfamiliar wind conditions. I landed my parachute and my daughter came running out for a big hug. I was so happy she could witness her mommy pursuing her dream of becoming a skydiver. Bo showed me how to carry the canopy in windy weather. I still can’t get over how much fabric there is to these student canopies! We walked into the hangar; (well, they walked, I was still floating…) and got more hugs and high fives.

I was doubtful of the weather and how the wind was trending higher and higher, but I took Bo’s advice and prepared for another jump just in case the opportunity would present itself for another jump. I was so happy that my family was there to celebrate a piece of my journey with me. They cooked out for me, and I was actually able to eat! (Not too much, but I ate!) I mingled with the tandem students that were there for their very first skydives ever! I told them how awesome it was that they were doing this, and they would love it! Unfortunately, Mother Nature whipped up the wind a little higher than what was safe, and we were grounded on a wind hold. I made the best of being there, so I practiced packing parachutes again. We hung around until around 3:00pm. We were headed home again. There I was, left once again in a bittersweet emotion. I always feel blessed that I had the opportunity, but feel bummed that I cannot stay.

Until the next jump, Blue Skies.

New to the Series? Read about Melissa’s Journey:

AFF Level I
AFF Level II
AFF Level III
AFF Level III part 2

A lady smiles while in free fall during a tandem skydive.

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