WALLERFANGEN, Germany --
Ascending into the unknown, Airmen look out the windows of a tiny propeller aircraft. The structures on the ground get smaller, and the sound of the plane is the only noise inside the small ‘seatless’ cabin.
Looking at each other, they wait in anticipation; some paralyzed by hesitation of what’s next.
“We’re here,” says a German man, packed in tightly behind the Airmen in front of him.
A man in a tapered jumpsuit opens a sliding door and brisk winds flood the plane, while yelling begins. Within seconds the plane is empty, and ten screaming passengers plummet toward the ground.
Fifteen Airmen from Ramstein Air Base received the opportunity to skydive over Wallerfangen, Germany, Aug. 13. The 86th Airlift Wing Chapel and Club 7 funded the trip.
The purpose of the trip was to improve the spiritual fitness of the Airmen by allowing them to take a leap of faith.
“It was initially nerve wrecking but amazing and breathtaking,” said Staff Sgt. Johannes Cilliers, 86th AW chaplain assistant. “You can’t anticipate what will happen until you are actually there. It is an experience where you just have to let go [of fear].”
RUfit is paramount in ensuring members are mission ready at all times. Taking a leap of faith, such as this one, was a way to strengthen their spiritual foundation to hone that readiness when times may get difficult in life.
“Something like this can cause ripple effects that take place later in life,” Cilliers said. “Sometimes things in life happen that you have no control over, but you can control how you handle the situation and take a leap of faith that things will turn out ok.”
According to Capt. Kristin Swenson, 86th AW Airmen ministry director and chaplain, the skydiving event was more impactful than most RUfit training opportunities.
“It was awesome to see people do something that takes so much courage, trust and faith,” Swenson said. “Hopefully something like this will help people to deal with future challenges in life. I think doing something this significant can [carry weight] because it’s more than just another briefing or lecture; it’s having an experience that they can relate to. This can help to build a person’s confidence and shows them that they can get through more than they think.”
Although jumping from an airplane may seem more extreme than many situations life could throw at someone, Airmen who took this leap can be more prepared for the feeling of ”free falling” through difficult situations.