Learning to Fly

Acclaimed author Sequoia Schmidt shares her personal journey as she learns to skydive.

Learning to Fly: Entry Log 5

Learning to Fly: Entry Log 5

Pretty in Pink By Sequoia Schmidt Photo: Skydive Perris Flying does not come naturally to me. Believe it or not, flying does come naturally to a few people, I’m just not one of them. Failing level 2 of my AFF (Accelerated Free Fall Program) was an important lesson for me on my journey of “learning to fly.” Since I failed the second level, I had to spend more time training in the tunnel and preparing myself mentally for each jump. Rather than carelessly throwing my body out of the plane, as I did in jump 2;   I was re-directed to focus and visualize specifically about each skydive, before I exited the plane. Continual repetitions of “presenting myself to the wind”  were required instead of simply jumping out of the aircraft. It has been two weeks since my last jump, so I want to ensure that my mind...
Learning to Fly: Entry Log 4

Learning to Fly: Entry Log 4

Presentation is key By Sequoia Schmidt I have found that tunnel time (indoor skydive center) is the best way to train my body. This morning starts out with two minutes in the wind tunnel. My natural reaction when exiting into high winds is still to move my hips backwards rather than push them forward for my arch. Tunnel time helps support this maneuver. It’s not simply my hips that I need to work on today; in order to pass level three of the Accelerated Free Fall program I must demonstrate two 90 degree turns to my instructors. The roar of air pushing through the fans of the tunnel commences as I step into the human-created wind. My form is improving. There is more stability in my movement compared to my previous wind tunnel session. When you have incredibly high winds blowing right at you, your ability to control your...
Learning To Fly: Entry Log 3

Learning To Fly: Entry Log 3

The Dollar Bill Method By Sequoia Schmidt “Just think of a dollar bill between your butt cheeks,” Rom tells me confidently. “Excuse me?” I say, a little embarrassed. “When you were in free fall last time, you were not steady because your hips weren’t down. Keep your hips down. The best way to do that is to squeeze your butt cheeks together just like you are trying to hold a dollar bill between them. This will level you out and allow you to stay stable.” As a woman who wears high heels and prides herself on being able to show off her feminine curves, I tend not to push my hips forward. After many years of adapting and perfecting my “high heel wearing” posture, it feels unnatural to cast that aside and throw my hips as far forward as possible. The thought of pressing my hips that far forward...
Learning to Fly: Entry Log 2

Learning to Fly: Entry Log 2

OMG I’m going to die … By Sequoia Schmidt Class #2 of the Accelerated Free Fall program began with an examination of the steps and procedures we learned in session one. Once again to a small classroom with a table and three chairs we went and toward the back of the room, I glanced up at the two harnesses still precariously suspended from the ceiling. We commenced with chanting a familiar aviation mantra: Look red grab red peel, pull look silver grab silver peel, pull Questions were being tossed in every direction: “What happens if you can see the sky through a hole in your parachute?” Perform emergency procedure “You are coming close to landing, when do you flare your toggles (breaks)?” 10-12ft before landing “What altitude do you pull your chute?” 5,000ft “What do you do when this happens?“ A picture is held up in front of me...
Learning to Fly: Entry Log 1

Learning to Fly: Entry Log 1

Reflections and connections By Sequoia Schmidt Why does someone want to learn how to jump out of airplanes? What generates and motivates this desire to be one with the skies no matter what the danger? I’m not quite sure how to answer these questions since I suspect everyone has a different reason. My own interest was sparked when I was about eleven years old. We were back home on the North Island of New Zealand. In an attempt to encourage my adventurous nature, my father took me on a tandem bungee jump just outside of Lake Taupo. I distinctly remember standing on the edge of the 30 meter (90 feet) bridge that towered over the Taupo River. A large lump filled my throat, and my mind was buzzing from all the pinging thoughts and feelings you get right before you are about to do something a little bit...
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