Before I ever flew in a plane, I rode in a helicopter.
It was September, sophomore year of college. My roommate, Jen, and I were wandering through a local festival when I spotted the sign. Helicopter Rides. With only $25 in my pocket and no idea how much a ride even cost, I hurried toward the line in a burst of determination. To my surprise and delight, the price was exactly $25 dollars—and this normally frugal college student practically flung my cash at the copter in a take-all-my-money-I-just-wanna-fly sort of way. (Read this post to learn why I’m so obsessed with flying.)
I figured I’d be paired with a stranger, since passengers were going up in twos and my roomie opted not to ride. But, to my continued delight, I was the only solo person in line, so the pilot took me up alone! Belted in and earmuff headset on, I felt the most intense form of joy as the helicopter lifted from the ground. For the first time in my life, I was flying!!
Though I don’t recall how long we stayed in the air, I do know that my ride was longer than all the rest – because the pilot told me so. We flew over the entire city of Albion, Michigan, then traced the path of the river that led to the surrounding countryside. I barely blinked, so smitten with the views below.
And then… and then the pilot asked if I wanted to do something crazy—to which I replied, YES! without the slightest hesitation. He explained that he would tilt the helicopter to the right, with my side facing the ground, and I could dangle arms and legs out the open door. Completely unafraid, I did just that. It was an unexpected moment of self-awareness, an acknowledgement that I am a thrill-seeking, adrenaline junkie.
Sadly, I have no photos to document this adventure—the first major milestone adventure of my life, really. But, fifteen years later, I can still close my eyes and picture myself in that copter. I vividly remember the winding river, tiny buildings, tinier cars, and acres of treetops and cornfields stretching to the horizon. And, I’ll never forget the way I felt… the thrilling rush, abundant joy, and blissful peace that will forever be branded to this experience—my first time in the air.
It was probably the best $25 I ever spent.
To all my fellow adrenaline junkies, when did you become aware of your thrill-seeking ways? And how? Did this realization surprise you? Feel free to share below!