VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif --
Have you ever jumped out of a perfectly fit aircraft to overcome your fears? Well, it’s safe to say that I have securely leaped from an aircraft that was 13,000 feet in the air and rapidly plummeted towards the earth to conquer mine.
Leap of Faith is a unique resiliency program hosted by the Chapel, which encourages Airmen to use skydiving to develop life-skills to overcome fears in their lives – whether it be emotional, physical or spiritual.
“As a Religious Support Team, composed of a chaplain and a religious affairs airman, we lead a discussion and activities before the jump to explore the meaning and application of resiliency skills,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Douglas Dixon 30th Space Wing chaplain.
As an exercise to emphasize faith, Dixon asked for a volunteer. Fearlessly, I raised my hand. He had me face away from him as he gathered six people in the room to form two lines. They all connected their arms making a bed while I climbed to the top of a ladder. Dixon gave me three words to say, “Fall. Fall. Falling.” After the word falling left my mouth, I fell back with full faith that these complete strangers would catch me.
Many people struggled to fall with faith that they would be caught. For some, it was not the aspect of being caught that worried them; rather, it was trusting themselves to push away from the solid ground. Isn’t it strange how people who hate heights and do not trust falling would be at an event such as this?
I have jumped from a plane before, but this experience was different. This time I was surrounded by fellow wingmen and I was vulnerable. I learned a little about each of the 12 Airmen at the event, not just their name and their rank, but their fears and their current struggles in life.
I learned about a man’s new life events and his highs and lows with what was about to happen. He had just been tasked for a special duty assignment, but due to his promotion, he was no longer eligible. Now, he was given a one-year unaccompanied remote assignment.
“As a single father, I did not want an assignment like this,” said Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Cumbie, 30th Logistics Readiness Squadron quality assurance evaluator. “Leap of Faith helped me in more ways than one. It allowed me to do something fun and help distract me from my everyday occurrences. I have to use my resiliency skills such as acceptance and focus on the mental and spiritual aspects in order to cope.”
Everyone is going through their own life events and some may be struggling, which many do alone.
Why, might you ask, would I jump out a plane? The purpose of the event was to overcome a fear, which deep down, everyone has. My fear may not be an object or and animal like many of my fellow Airmen. What scares me comes from deep down. I am afraid of not fulfilling my life to the depth of its capacity, and for that reason, events such as this are what I live for.
“The second part of the day incorporates skydiving to enable the Airmen to personally visualize overcoming fears so that they will use the experience to bounce back from whatever fears may be preventing them from maintaining normalcy,” said Dixon.
Geared up and ready to step into a perfectly stable aircraft, fully aware that the objective of the event is to jump out of said aircraft, we load up. Rising, climbing, steadily increasing in altitude, we reached 13,000 feet.
I was sitting on the edge of the plane, ready for the 120 mile per hour wind in my face while my ears pop and I plummet towards earth’s core. In that moment, I realized how good life is and how great it can be. Here I am, ready to jump, letting go of myself from the plane and my fears in the air.
Here is the moment. This is what we came here for, pure release of anything holding us back in life, our fears – and we jumped.