Skydiving and parachute stunts were a breathtaking part of this weekend's air show at Barksdale Air Force Base. So, we decided to try and see just how it feels to jump out of an airplane more than 12,500 feet above ground.
Parachutes upside down, sideways, and going from left to right of the runway were all part of this weekend's air show. But I thought I'd start off simple: a tandem parachute jump.
The Canadian Forces Parachute Team, SkyHawks, has quite a few jumps under its belt, and I was paired with one of the most experienced of the group, Warrant Officer Trevor Lavallee. He has over 1100 jumps of experience in 16 years.
A hat, goggles and, of course, a parachute were all necessities before I could learn the basic movements. Those movements include: curling my legs back for the entire free fall and holding on tight to the harness with elbows in.
After a long flight to our elevation destination of 12,500 feet in the air, we got the cue to jump. After swaying back and forth twice, the third time we pushed out of the door and free fell at speeds of up to 170 mph.
"It's an awesome feeling every time when you're up in the air," Ray Baril of the SkyHawks told us. Baril is the most experienced jumper on the team with over 2000 jumps of experience, but he told us he still gets nervous before each jump.
A rush of 45 seconds of wind in the face and then, we pull our parachute open to slow us down. We glided our way down to a soft landing showing off just a little taste of what the SkyHawks can do.
I am ready to do it all over again, but I think I will stick to the tandem jump and leave all the fancy tricks up to the SkyHawks.