Jumping Out of a Perfectly Good Airplane – Texas Skydiving
Jumping out of a plane has never been on my bucket list. But it has been on my son Josh’s and his best friend Ryan’s since they were kids. So when Josh’s then-fiance’-now-wife Christabel emailed me in December about skydiving for Josh’s 30th birthday, how could I refuse? And, as a bonus, my daughter Sara wanted to jump as well. In spite of two delays (one for the snow-pocalypse that shutdown most of Texas in February, and another for high winds) we ended up at Texas Skydiving in Lexington Texas on Father’s Day Weekend in 2021.
Texas Skydiving Details
The town of Lexington is somewhat well-known as the home of Snow’s BBQ, but its exact location was vague to me. As I now know it’s about an hour northeast of Austin, heading on 290 toward Houston then taking a left on a two-lane road I’d never been on. After we passed a massive mining operation (who knew?) we got to the town of Lexington, thence to the home of Texas Skydiving.
As it was the first skydiving experience for all of us, we were to jump tandem. Jumping tandem with an experienced skydiver (ours were Chase and David, both very informative and a lot of fun) means you don’t need a lot of training. After putting on our harnesses, we were all told the following:
- Planes are small, so two jumpers with their two trained skydivers at a time (and, of course, we’d need a pilot. These planes don’t fly themselves – yet).
- When you get up to altitude (10,000 feet, about two miles) you will turn around, get on your knees and get attached to your tandem partner.
- When you get on the platform outside the plane, you will rock back with your skydiver (supposedly to a count of three, but most went early), head on their shoulder to avoid smacking heads together. The skydivers wear helmets for that reason.
- During free fall, spread your arms, arch your back and hold you legs up.
- When you land, pull your knees up and straighten your legs. This is mostly to avoid getting your legs tangled up with your tandem partner.
The plane would climb to 10,000 feet, almost two miles – which took some time. We were told on the way back down it would be about 40 seconds of free fall and 6-8 minutes with the chute deployed. With two soon-to-be skydivers at a time, Sara and I were randomly selected for the first flight, so Ryan and Josh got to wait and wonder.
The Perfectly Good Plane We Left
The plane we flew in can be seen in the first photo in this article. Audrey took a nice video of the plane as Sara and I get ready to board.
Inside the plane was a seat for the pilot – and not much else! But we had great weather and a smooth flight up. That’s Sara’s skydiver David behind her – Chase was facing us.
Chase is at the back of the plane, so whomever was on the side of the plane opposite of the door (lucky me) got to turn around and get on their knees to get hooked up – and watch the person by the door go first! My knees and my nerve survived.
Here’s a slightly different perspective from Josh’s video – he got to go first.
Both skydivers were relaxed, and Chase told me he would probably do 10-11 jumps that day. And no – he said it never gets old.
Leaving the Perfectly Good Plane
The photo below is Josh seconds after leaving the plane, taken from the Texas Skydiving video.
Sara getting ready!
Ryan is getting his bearings, wing of the plane in the background.
In the photo below, you can just see the plane at the top of the photo somewhat above my screaming face.
All of our expressions tell the story – free fall was the best part.
Driving the Chute
Ryan and Sara both had David as their tandem skydiver, who let them take a turn on steering the chute. Below is a side by side video of both of them showing their driving chops.
My gorgeous wife took videos of everyone landing. I took those and the Texas Skydiving videos and did some side-by-sides. On one side is the video from the air and on the other is the view from the ground.
First up is one of Josh. It include the video taken by Chase from Texas Skydiving, and videos by me and my wife while Josh was in the air and landing.
In Sara’s my landing in front of her can be seen for a brief moment. David has his altimeter positioned perfectly so Sara’s altitude can be seen as she is coming down (if you look at her full length video at the end of this article, you can see David’s altimeter frequently). Sara is also the only one of us that did not land on her butt – being vertically challenged (at least compared to David) kept her upright, even though she pulled her knees up as instructed very early in the descent!
In Ryan’s version you can see Josh’s yellow chute in the background a couple of times and at the end when he lands.
Finally, below is a video of me landing, with the Texas Skydiving video juxtaposed with one my gorgeous wife took.
The successful skydivers celebrate in the photo below.
Of course, I won the award for “Best Post-Skydiving Hair”.
But Sara narrowly edged me out for the “Best Hair in the Air” award!
All four full videos from Texas Skydiving
Below are all of the videos taken by our friends at Texas Skydiving. The first one is mine.
The video below is my daughter Sara’s. Since Sara and I went up together, we are in each other’s videos.
The next video is of my son Josh.
And finally below is the video of Ryan’s jump. Since he and Josh were together, they are in each other’s video.
Of course we would recommend Texas Skydiving – the enjoyment can be seen in the smiles in the photos and videos. We are already planning to return when my daughter-in-law is able to jump. Rumor has it that her brother will join her – as well as some of these four “veteran” skydivers!