Down to Earth: CMU student shares her hobby of skydiving
Looking out the window of a King Air twin-turbo airplane at 14,000 feet above the ground, everything familiar -- fields, trees, rivers and roads -- looks a lot smaller.
Before Napoleon freshman Lauren Albert knows it, the pilot is giving her the go-ahead. As the plane tips to its side, she steps out onto nothing and begins free-falling toward the ground.
The Central Michigan University student's first skydive harnessed to an instructor was on Aug. 3, 2019. After that day, she was hooked. She has completed 32 jumps with an A license in skydiving, allowing her to jump by herself.
“Some people think I'm crazy and ask me, 'why I would want to skydive?'” Albert said. “But then I ask them if they have ever done it and when they say no, I ask, 'why haven't you, aren't you crazy? What if I'm actually sane?'”
Some people think skydiving is similar to riding a rollercoaster, but after stepping out of a plane for her first time, Albert said the comparison is not correct.
“There's nothing in life that can prepare you for what it feels like,” Albert said. “It’s just you floating with the wind hitting your face. It was the weirdest feeling but also the best feeling. You remember it forever.”
Skydiving has been a part in Albert’s family for the past five years. Her dad, Adam, and younger brother, Ian, helped build a drop zone down the road from their home in Napoleon. When Albert first decided to take on skydiving as a hobby, her family was all in.
“We were pretty excited,” her dad said. “She came off that first jump and was ready to go again. Everything went perfectly and she knew it.”
Albert hopes that her jumps don’t just happen in Napoleon, but in other places around the world.
She has seen a lot of jumps happen in the Netherlands and Iceland. Albert has also thought about jumping over the ocean. But the place at the top of her list is somewhere out west like Colorado.
The manager at the drop zone, Ryan Levesque, saw Albert skydive for the first time by herself and watches her continue to do it week after week. Levesque said Albert is a natural due to her confidence when she goes up in the plane. She believes in herself, he said.
Surprisingly, Albert is more scared being on top of a building, or even a ladder, than 14,000 feet in the air because there is nothing to relate the height to, Albert said.
“I have a parachute, and I know it is there to save me," Albert said. "At 10 feet, you can't deploy a parachute. You could break your arm or your leg, but when skydiving, it's harder to do because you have a big cushy pillow.”
For some, getting the motivation to go up in an airplane is a difficult task. For Albert, stepping out of the plane is easy and the sensation she feels when doing so will get her to continue skydiving for the rest of her life.
"It's really pretty up there, and I just like the feeling,” Albert said. “I don't get an adrenaline rush anymore because I know what to expect, but I do get another sort of high I guess you would call it. I just feel good.”