Learning to fly, one year at a time
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Fifty-five seconds changed Jeanna Aulik’s perspective on life.
The 55 seconds between the time her feet left the floor of the airplane until the parachute strapped to the instructor’s back, who she was strapped to, popped open, was in the simplest of words, “life changing,” she said.
“Oh, my, God, I’m flying,” she said describing the event. “When I suddenly found myself outside the plane the whirlwind continued; Back arched, arms crossed, shoulder tap, arms out, I’m flying.”
Those 55 seconds of not being on the ground, not being in a plane, surrounded by sky and not touching anything solid or familiar was unnatural. But at the same time, to Aulik, it’s the closest to nature she’s ever been.
When asked what the experience was like after she had reached land, “Amazing,” was the only word that came to mind.
“The most amazing experience of my life,” Aulik said.
When the instructor told her that they would be landing soon, she didn’t want to. She wanted to keep flying forever.
“I didn’t want to land,” she said. “Please, please, I don’t want to stop. I don’t ever want to land,” she remembers thinking during the final seconds of flight.
But it had to come to an end. And that end for Aulik came with happy tears.
“For me, it was such a deeply spiritual event,” Aulik said. “You could say that it pushed me to the edge of life and that’s opened my eyes.”
And in that short 55 seconds, she found her new self.
“For me, an entire lifetime had just passed. An entire lifetime,” Aulik said. “It became a personal search-and-rescue-mission. I could not locate the former me, the girl who had climbed the steps to that airplane. The jump had changed me so much that the former me was no longer there. She had disappeared and it felt like I hadn’t seen her in hours, days, years.”
Aulik’s decision to jump was not a spur of the moment decision. It was something that has been in the back of her mind for years. This year just happened to be the right year.
Aulik stopped drinking and “became sober” she said, when she was 28. That decision reignited a passion for life, and a love for herself.
“I decided, from that point on, that every year on my birthday I would do something that I had never done before,” she said.
Last year, on her 30th birthday, Aulik did something else she’s always wanted to by taking a ride in a Med Flight helicopter. Not as a patient, however, just as an observer. Aulik said that she had previously wanted to work as a Med Flight nurse.
She knew that she had to step it up and go really big this year.
So this year, on her 31st birthday, Sept. 31, she finally took the dive. Not only from the plane, but into the rest of her life.
“During the ride home through the mountains, I had a newfound appreciation for the beauty of Colorado,” Aulik said. “The mountains were more beautiful than the last time I had seen them. My heart ached with love for the special people in my life, a love I wanted to share with each of them.”
Jeanna’s family, husband Patrick, daughter Ella (5), and son Edjer (2), accompanied her to Boulder Municipal Airport and watched her in her special moment.
Jumping from the plane was just the first of many, Aulik said. She is now going to jump at all the opportunities to try new things that she’s always wanted to try.
Kayaking, rock climbing, all the outdoor sports that are so prevalent here on the western slope.
“I’m going to ski this winter like I’ve never skied before,” she said. “I’m going to mountain bike. I’m going to hike those fourteeners. I’m going to learn to kayak. I’m going to live the Colorado life with which I am blessed. I’m going to live the life I want my children to live. My children are going to skydive.”
And she will again know the 55 seconds of life-changing freedom that she experienced on her 31st birthday. She plans to sky dive every Fourth-of-July.
“My daughter told her class for show and tell the following Tuesday (after the jump), ‘my mom jumps out of airplanes,” Aulik said. “I want her always to tell her friends that.”
Contact John Gardner: 384-9114
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Roaring Fork Schools volunteers who have already completed a comparable background check through an approved entity would be good to go.