For my nephew's eighteenth birthday, he thought it'd be fun to get his uncles together for a skydiving party. It would be his first jump.

He chose an outfit out of Shelton, WA to jump with. They call themselves Skydive Kapowsin, and train military personnel at joint base Lewis-McChord. They're unique in that they're permitted to offer accelerated free fall to first-time jumpers.

After several hours of classes in which the technical aspects of the jump were drilled into our heads, we were ready to suit up and head for the skies. There were thirtyfive of us crammed into the tight confines of our jump plane - three instructors per person plus cameramen for those purchasing photos or DVDs. My DVD was comp'd because the camera guy confused me (who wasn't purchasing) with my brother (who was). Bummer, Dave.

The jump was smooth - a full minute of free fall from 13,500 feet - but the landing dicey as there were sustained winds of thirteen mph. They won't allow jumps in sustained winds of fifteen mph for good reason. A gust landed me on my butt. The birthday boy had the best jump. Technically dismal, but after somersalting out of the plane it was clear who was making the most fun out of it.