It shouldn’t be hard for you to imagine what it feels like to have the world rushing past you, we have become a society that has 99 lives all crammed into one. But imagine as you are traveling past the construction site, or going past the students in the hallway, or walking down the hectic city streets, and then all of a sudden nothing, no sound, the mute air fills all around you for a brief second and then it continues back again. This is the best way I can describe my favorite part of skydiving, when both brakes are pulled and you hover in the air for the slightest of time experiencing nothing by silent beauty.
Summer after my freshman year of college my older brother, Oscar Fernandez, asked me if I wanted to go skydiving for my birthday, and without hesitation I said yes. I was going to finally have my dream of flying come to life. Nerves weren’t even an issue with me, I was pumped up with pure excitement, and maybe a hint of adrenaline. I asked where we were going and my brother suggested a place over by my new home at UCF, which was just an hour away. We met up with one of his friends that he would spar with in his Jiu-Jitsu class, and the adrenaline was starting to kick in on over time. I was going to jump out of a plane!
When we first arrived at Skydive Deland, we were welcomed by some awesome people that reminded me of the stereotypic surfers (but you know, for the sky), and their welcomeness made my excitement fly through the roof (pun intended). I can best describe these free spirited people as bohemians of the sky. We were instructed to watch a video, sign our lives away, and get ready for our other tandem jumpers. We suited up, bought a camera crew to follow us, and began to walk to the airstrip.
All I could visualize was the plane, the sky, and my tandem jumper. My brother behind me was just as excited as I was, but he was also starting to get a bit nervous. Once we had reached 13,000 feet in the air we were going to jump and land, so I wanted to take every second in.
We hopped into the smallest aircraft I had ever seen, and shimmied all the way to the front of the plane. We started to depart and as soon as the wheels left the ground I had the dopiest smile on my face the entire way up.
The jumpers at 5,000 feet jumped first to practice their parachuting, and the rest of us traveled the other two-thirds of the way up. 10,000 – 11,000 – 12,000 – 13,000 feet. Time to jump!
Oscar was the first one out! Tumbling through the sky, doing backflips in the air, and landing – waiting for me to come down. But as soon as he got out. IT WAS MY TURN! I kicked my legs under the plane, had my googles on, put my head on Trevor, my tandem skydive instructor, and lifted out. Nothing but pure adrenaline was filling my body. Looking up at the camera I made weird faces, looked down then back forward, and grabbed on to my camera guy who spun me around in the sky. (I’m getting excited just writing about this)
The free fall lasted about 45 seconds and the parachute landing about 2-3 min. The parachute was surprisingly my favorite part. I felt the air rushing past me, the loud wind guiding me. I was only a vessel, like a leaf in the wind, except I can steer where I was going. I pulled left, I pulled right, and I pulled the brakes, and had the best experience of my life. I landed on my bum, a skill I’d have to perfect, which I did in time, and my first instinct was to run and hug my brother, not because I was scared and glad I survived, but because of the blessing of this new experience.
Then, I knew I had to take everyone I could to experience this awesome majestic venture. So any time I celebrated a birthday, or just cause, I offered to jump out with them.
Later on I went and took my best friends one by one on trips to go skydiving. First was Lucas Matos, the bushy haired kid from back home. As he was falling his afro was going straight up the face of his instructor, which was hilarious to see in picture, terrifying for the instructor at the time. We fell in the rain, and as we fell we saw the rain drops were going up towards the sky, we fell faster than the water, and we experienced things people don’t normally get to.
After a couple months I took my other best friend Christine Mucci on a plane, and we jumped out with pure euphoria. A girl who was nervous about the entire situation gained the adventurous spirit that was lurking inside to have faith and jump out. This was the first time I fell through a cloud and felt the moisture that built up in it. We landed and immediate knew that we made a right choice.
The last friend I took up to actually jump with was my friend Sam Pena, we jumped for her birthday and immediately had a great time, one to talk about for years to come. I ended up saving my money to get my license which fueled my passion all the more. I knew I was going to make it a hobby. I was going to fly for fun on the frequent.