|I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane the other day, thus completing my second skydiving experience. I was "strapped to a man, strapped to a parachute," as they put it. The plane was a Cessna 205 or 206, which is a six-seater plane with a lawnmower engine, but in this case there was only one seat for the pilot. Everything else was stripped out, which made it interesting to see how frighteningly primitive it is to coax a large object to fly. A "funny" pre-flight comment by one of the instructors was that we needed to keep the majority of our body weight in line with the wings, because apparently otherwise this thing would fall out of the sky.
Wendy volunteered to jump first, so I sat and watched as she and her instructor inched toward the open door of the rickety metal box 10,000 feet in the air. The plane itself was pretty loud, but the open door made it almost deafening. My instructor and I inched toward the door, and he started positioning himself to jump. What might not be obvious is that it's surprisingly difficult to (a) be physically attached to another fully-grown human, (b) maneuver on your knees while physically attached to another fully-grown human, and (c) maneuver on your knees in a rickety metal box 10,000 feet in the air while physically attached to another fully-grown human. For some reason this part often gets overlooked, and I can't stress enough how improperly the joints in ankles and knees are designed to accommodate this task.
The doorway of the plane had a metal lip along the bottom. As my instructor started leaning out of the plane (with me attached), "we" utilized this metal lip to grind my outer right ankle bone and forcibly remove my shoe. Things get a little hazy at this point, what with the wind and the noise and the achievement of terminal velocity, but I remember tumbling through the sky and thinking, "Crap, I just lost a shoe." I figured it would hit me in the face in a few seconds, or land on somebody's house, leading to one lucky homeowner's best story of all time. I temporarily put that thought aside so I could enjoy what I would consider the biggest thrill a person can legally experience. Once my instructor deployed the parachute and things calmed down a bit, I informed him of my predicament, but he wasn't concerned. People who jump out of planes for a living have slightly different priorities than a regular person.
As we made our final descent toward the landing zone, I spotted Wendy and pointed to my shoeless foot, which she laughed at. The landing procedure is sort of a gametime decision, so at the last second, my instructor told me to land standing as opposed to sliding on my butt. This didn't feel great especially while physically attached to another fully-grown human, but it wasn't terrible. Everyone laughed as they found out I arrived with one less shoe, but no one seemed concerned about the terminal effects of a solid object dropped from a plane. Sometimes ignorance of physics is a good thing.
As it turns out, my shoe returned to me. We were signing our release forms and whatnot, and the pilot came over to me and handed me my shoe, which ended up staying in the plane the whole time. As he put it, "I looked in the back of the plane and saw a shoe and thought, Who the hell left a shoe?" I did. But I got it back, along with a nice ankle bruise.