Nicole Bedard jumped first.
On Memorial Day in 2009, armed with the encouragement of a friend, the Ellsworth native strapped herself to a stranger, dropped out of a plane at about 13,000 feet and began a freefall and parachute descent to the ground.
Despite an odd sense of calm before that first plunge, skydiving surprised Nicole. It was an overwhelming experience of nerves, sensory overload and adrenaline. But she knew from simulating dives in a wind tunnel how fun the sport could be and felt certain she would jump again.
Nicole, now 26, called her parents, who own Complete Tire in Ellsworth, and asked if they’d be willing to try too.
Sue Bedard, Nicole’s mother, jumped next.
On a clear, warm day that August she made her way with her husband, Peter, to Skydive New England in the York County town of Lebanon where her daughter had first dived.
Sue was fearless. She raised her arms above her head like a champion as she made her way to the small plane, a craft she is familiar with — she worked for Scenic Flights of Acadia for a summer in college.
Jumping, she said, was euphoric, peaceful and exhilarating all at the same time.
Peter, originally a skeptic, followed soon after. After watching people rise into the sky and plummet back to earth over and over again with curious grins on their faces, he wanted in.
He jumped on a clear fall day that Columbus Day weekend, when the foliage was bright and the air a little cooler. When he landed safely with his tandem instructor, Peter smiled patiently at the videographer who had filmed his descent (he doesn’t like cameras) and said quietly, “That was awesome.”
‘Awesome’, he’d say later, a word he never uses.