He Said/She Said: Keeping the thrill alive

Have you ever gone skydiving? I admit that I’m intrigued by the idea, but I haven’t done it, so far. Today we have a new He Said/She Said feature with Ryan and Emily, a married couple that skydives together almost every weekend. Talk about a cool way to keep the fun in your marriage!

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Caitlin: So, Ryan, tell me about the first time you went sky diving. What drew you to it? What was the experience like?

Ryan: The first time I went skydiving was a tandem skydive for my 18th birthday. At a young age I was always interested in more extreme sports like skating, wake boarding and, snowboarding and this seemed like something crazy, but really fun to do. When I showed up for my tandem I was with my parents and I was nervous, anxious, and a little bit terrified.

Going up in the plane I was a nervous wreck, but I knew I didn’t want to back out of it. Once we jumped out the first thing that went through my mind, was “what am I doing!?” But after that split second, I absolutely loved the experience.

You never feel that sense of falling like you do on a roller coaster and it just feels really, really windy and it’s like you’re floating. It’s a sensation you just can’t get on the ground. It really feels like you’re flying.

Caitlin: You were hooked pretty fast and even got certified at a young age. What was that process like?

Ryan: There are a couple of different ways to get certified, but the way that I did it was a more common practice called Accelerated Free Fall or AFF. You go through a half day ground school, take a few tests, and you have to pass 7 different jumps that have different maneuvers on each one. Each jump gets progressively more intricate and the moves you do help you with general body flying. They are to ensure that are competent to fly on your own without an instructor and that you won’t hurt yourself in the process.

Caitlin: You took a break from sky diving for several years because it was so expensive. What is the cost like with sky diving?

Ryan: Skydiving is expensive to start but if you look at the everything that goes with it (i.e. gear, parachutes, coaching) as an investment, it’s worth it. The AFF certification (depending on the drop zone) will run about $1,500 for the 7 jumps total.  But after you are certified the jumps only cost $23 / jump. At least where I live that’s how much they cost. The gear is also expensive, but made to last. Helmets can be $200-$300; Suits $400-$600; Altimeters $300; but the most expensive things are the “rigs” and “canopies”. The rigs are the harness that holds you to the canopy (or parachutes) and that will be $2,500-$4,000 and the canopies or parachutes will run about $1,200 – $2,000.

Caitlin: You got back into sky diving last year with your wife, Emily. What has it been like sharing this hobby with her?

Ryan: The best thing I could have hoped for! I love spending my time with her, so it’s great because I don’t have to feel like I’m neglecting her because we are always there together. We have the same friends and we get to share the same experiences. I think it’s rare to find couples that get to do that ,but we are one of the lucky few.

Emily: It’s so cool that Ryan and I share a passion for the same hobby. To have something you love so much and to be able to share it with the one person you love most in this world is an amazing thing. We are incredibly fortunate and we always say that we are truly blessed!

Caitlin: Emily, what was your first time jumping like?

Emily: It’s always been something I’ve wanted to do. I love to live on the edge. I grew up with all boys and was always the first one jumping out in front of danger and pushing my abilities.

I had never been on a “small” plane before, only commercial jets. I can’t begin to explain what it’s like to watch the door open for the first time and feel the rush of wind entering the plane.

Even more indescribable is the view. The view is unbelievable! It all happens SO fast. It was exhilarating and unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I loved the rush of something entirely new! All of your senses are engaged and you are completely overwhelmed. There is surge of endorphins and for those 60 seconds of free fall you are excited beyond belief.

Being under the parachute is what caught me by surprise though. It was so peaceful and quiet. You get to take in all of nature’s beauty. It is truly remarkable.

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Caitlin: You also got certified. What was that like for you?

Emily: Nerves. An insane amount of nerves! Doing a tandem with someone who has thousands of jumps and is in control of the situation is one thing. Doing it on your own is a completely different ballgame. The coaches do a really great job at getting you prepared and progressing you through the course, but there is always that fear of the unknown. Can I do this on my by myself?! I was absolutely terrified for the first 40 jumps.

Caitlin: The two of you have something like 200+ jumps in the last year. So, how do you get to jump so often? How big a part of your life is this?

Ryan: We jump pretty much every weekend on both Saturday and Sunday. We will usually do about 5 jumps a day so it can add up really quickly. And this is a huge part of our life so we have changed so many things about how we spend our weekends. We used to just hang out and go to restaurants, but now we budget and have cut a lot of things out that were not necessary. We have made this our focus. And we are so, so happy that we did.

Emily: It has certainly integrated its way into our lives. When you develop a passion for skydiving you not only get the sport, but you also become part of a family. We’ve made so many great friends with skydiving. It’s been a win/win for sure! We love sharing laughs, excitement, and experiences with them all. It’s like being inducted into an insanely awesome secret society.

Caitlin: I think you are both a really good example of prioritizing your passions. How do you make sure you find the time and money to do this thing that you love? Why is it important to you to do so?

Ryan: We found the time and money by budgeting! I can’t stress that enough. We budget every month down to the penny on a really elaborate spreadsheet. We make sacrifices like everyone does for the things they want and this is what we want right now. It’s important for us because we absolutely love it. We can’t get enough of it and all of our friends are here so it makes it that much more special. This is our “big kid play time”.

Emily: We have a pretty organized budget (think color-coded and multiple tabs). We talk about our expenses regularly and keep each other grounded, if and when we need to. We’ve definitely given ourselves a hefty skydiving allowance though!

It’s important to set boundaries for yourself. We have to keep our goals at the forefront too. Paying off the house & cars, saving for the future and living debt free. There is a certain balance to be had in a happy life.

Caitlin: Emily, I think it’s funny you said earlier that growing up with boys made you a daredevil. I have five older brothers and I’ve never felt the urge to jump out of an airplane. What do you tell people (like me) who might feel like they don’t have the guts to do it?

Emily: It’s something I think every person should experience at least once in their lifetime! It’s a dangerous sport, but a lot safer than perceived.The tandem masters where we live are world-class,with an incredible amount of experience and professionalism. Most people’s first thoughts are that you get that ‘stomach dropping’ sensation but it’s nothing like that, it actually feels more like flying. It’s a thrill like no other.

Ryan: What I tell people like this (my sister in particular) if you have ever had any interest in doing it or even considered doing it, you would absolutely love it! Yes, it is scary to do, but it’s only because it’s the fear of the unknown. It’s actually a lot safer than you could imagine and I can almost guarantee you will have the exact same reaction as everyone else when they get down: That was awesome and the best thing that I have ever done! Everyone should try it at least once!

Caitlin: Finally, if you can put in to words, what is the feeling like when you jump out of an airplane? How has making this such a big part of you life, changed your life?

Ryan: It’s the most complete free feeling you will ever have.  For me, as soon as I jump out I’m relaxed and not scared (ironically).  It’s an instant smile across my face and it’s feels like I’m flying. I feel like I can do anything I want for that time being and there is nothing to stop me or tell me no. IT’S AMAZING! This has changed my life in that it has helped me prioritize what I really want in life and given me a new perspective on how I want to spend my free time. Plus, it’s opened up great friendships and made our weekends awesome!

Emily: It is unlike any other feeling in the world. The rush of excitement, the sense of flying, to be completely free and to see the world from a different perspective. It is total bliss. To put it simply, skydiving makes me happy. And the fact that I get to share it with my husband and friends makes me even happier. It has been life-altering to say the least. Not only in the direct sense, but also internally. I feel as though I’ve tapped into a part of my soul and am more “free” as a result. It’s truly liberating!

Check out some cool videos of Ryan and Emily skydiving here and here.

Images courtesy Emily Lynch

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