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July 08, 2021 4 min read

Have you ever found yourself being drawn to something just...wild, extreme, or dangerous? I love going way too fast, heights, motorcycles, boats, cliff jumping, sharks and anything that gets my blood pumping! For as long as I can remember, I wanted to get certified in skydiving, and I made it my goal for 2020.

 Because 2020 was the year that it was, a lot of my goals fell to the side and I didn’t really pursue them. In November I thought to myself, “What the hell am I doing? This year isn’t even close to over! There are still things I can achieve in this year!” I had a couple other goals that I plowed right through, but working on my skydiving goal was the biggest challenge, because in Minnesota in the winter it’s not even possible. You would freeze to death before anything else! 

To get certified, there are a few steps:

Step 1: Sign up for an AFF Course. AFF Stands for Accelerated Free Fall and it will take you 7 jumps to complete this course.

Step 2: Complete 18 free fall jumps after you get your AFF (25 total) to get your A License, which allows you to roll up to most drop zones around the world, show them your A license and they’ll trust you know what the hell you’re doing.

My brother and his wife were living in their boat in Cocoa Beach, Florida, so I called Sam up one day and asked if I could stay with them over New Years while I got my license! Sam, the wild man and adventurer that he is asked if I minded him tagging along. 

My brother is an airline pilot for Delta, so jumping out of a perfectly good plane isn’t usually his cup of tea. However, there is no such thing as a perfectly good plane, so we made plans and signed up for the AFF course! 

**My brother and his wife on their sailboat that they've lived on the past 5 years.

As I said, AFF stands for Accelerated Free Fall. This is the first license you can get in skydiving. It’s a series of seven jumps with coaches on each jump, teaching you three main things:

  1. How to be stable in the air so that when you pull your chute, lines don’t get twisted and you don’t go splat. 
  2. How to have altitude awareness so that you don’t forget to pull your chute at a certain height. 
  3. How to not forget the most important part - don’t forget to pull the chute!!!

*This doesn’t sound like something that would happen, but trust me! Jumping out of an airplane from 13,000 feet is a little bit traumatic, whether you meant to jump or not, it’s an intense thing. The first time most people jump, a lot of them say they don’t really remember much about the jump. 

 

**Me on my first ever jump!!

After I got my AFF, I started doing as many jumps as I could, many of which require a coach who is teaching and challenging you in different body positions and maneuvers. 

Spoiler alert: I’m currently at jump 22 of 25! 

So far, I feel like out of the lessons, there are a few takeaways that apply to every day life. 

  1. To learn how to be stable in life, make sure you know who and what lifelines are around you so that you don’t get twisted up every time a little storm comes your way.
  2.  Have attitude awareness, so that you recognize when you need to pull on your lifelines to help you out and get you back on track. 
  3.  The most important part- Don’t Forget To Adventure! Don't take life so seriously, none of us are getting out alive!

 So why did it take me until the year 2020 to finally decide to get my skydiving license? As I look back, I realize that part of the challenge was that I had specific priorities involving time and money that I had to choose over going and getting my AFF. In addition to that, I’ll admit that I was a bit depressed and frustrated in the year 2020. But part of the reason I decided to go for it in 2020 is a little bit about my mentality. When life hands you lemons, what do you do with them? At the end of the day (or year) I picked myself up and went after something I’d dreamed about my whole life. 

 This is the challenge and the opportunity in front of us every day. Sit in the shit as long as needed but at some point, get up, brush yourself off and get on with life!

 

Some photos of me finishing my skydiving course on film taken by the lovely Madison Errichiello

getting ready to go up

let's rip!

comin down!

happy boy.

Steve Weigel
Steve Weigel


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