(It’s my first post on this new blog. Yay!)
So a couple weeks ago, a friend of mine posted on Facebook with a link to a Groupon for skydiving. I’ve never skydived (skydove?) before, so why not? I expressed interest, and a couple weeks later I found myself in an oversized flight suit strapped to a man I’ve only met a couple minutes ago.
First of all, let me mention that I am the farthest you can get from an “adrenaline junkie”. I wait for the pedestrian light to turn green before crossing the road and I actually drive at the speed limit. Once I was on a field trip to Hershey Park in fifth grade, and my chaperone (the mother of a classmate) literally dragged me into the line for a roller coaster because I absolutely refused to go on. I get enough thrills from watching Pretty Little Liars (I turn the volume down when suspenseful music comes on) or trying a new item on the menu at my favorite restaurant (ooooooh so brave). Really, it doesn’t take much to rattle me.
But, an opportunity had presented itself, and so, without a second thought, I signed myself up.
The fateful day came. My friends and I woke up at 5 am (x__x) and drove two hours to Hollister, California. There, we signed in. So apparently the Groupon we used was for a 10,000 feet jump (which sounded high enough for me), but the lady at the counter managed to persuade us into upgrading to 15,000 feet (“10k? But that’s only 30 seconds of freefall! Are you sure? 15k basically doubles the freefall time!”). The upgrade comes at a cost of $40, but YOLO. Next was to decide on pictures and video, which I reluctantly paid an extra $70 for… but I mean, I’m not going to jump out of a plane at three miles above ground level and not get pictures to prove it! So considering that the Groupon was around $100, I paid about $210 for the whole experience… sounds like a lot of money, but this pays for
- A 20 minute plane ride: The pilot, fuel
- An instructor to skydive with you. This guy basically risks his life for you and does all the work of deploying, maneuvering, and packing up the parachute.
- And he has to take pictures of you while doing it (via the GoPro attached to his left arm)
- When you land, they send a party bus (lol) to come pick you up and drive you back to the office.
Considering that skydiving is not something I can do any old day, sounds like a pretty good deal to me. Oh yeah, they made me as sign a contract that basically says that I can’t sue them unless I pay $500 to get out of that clause or something. LOL, I thought that was pretty funny. Okay, now that I got that mundane backstory out of the way, let’s talk about my experience…
How I Prepared
By watching Youtube videos of skydivers and imagining myself in their point of view. I recommend this if you are scared. It lets you get used to the view of being so high up and gives you an idea of how the whole jumping-out-of-plane thing works. I’m sure it’s different with every instructor, but it did help to not be completely clueless about how things were going to go down (LOL get it? That was punny). Be careful because some of the “related videos” will be “Skydiving FAIL!” and similar videos which I regret to say I did click on. I proceeded to read articles about skydiving dangers and news reports about skydiving accidents and deaths, which I do not recommend. Definitely do not recommend.
The Plane Ride
I actually stayed pretty calm. It’s a tiny tiny plane and we fit the six of us, each strapped to an instructor. (You sit in front of the instructor and they strap you in during the plane ride. I was anxious about my instructor forgetting to do so because all the other instructors were doing so and my guy was taking his own sweet time.) By the way, they let me borrow a flight suit because I was wearing leggings and apparently, you “slide” to a stop when you land so I should have worn some thicker pants. I took up their offer for the jumpsuit though, because I was FREEZING. It was a chilly morning.
The scariest part is seeing your friends go first, because it looks like they are just falling out of the plane. My instructor (by the way, his name is Mako) asked me if I wanted to do a flip when we jumped out, so I said okay. When it was our turn, he waddled us (we were attached at the shoulder and the hip) to the side of the plane. “One… two… THREE!” And good bye, solid ground, hello sixty seconds of freefall.
Yes, I closed my eyes when we jumped, because I am a weenie like that. We did a slow, graceful (I am just saying this, I have no idea how graceful we were) front somersault in air until we finally settled into the freefall “banana” position. Things I remember from this time was that 1) it was cold, oh so very cold, with wind rushing past me at 150 miles per hour, and 2) my goggles were pressed uncomfortably up against my eyeballs. Clearly these were not made for Asians. Being in the air is actually not that scary – you are so high up that you lose any sense of height, if that makes any sense. I was strangely comforted by the fact that if my parachute were to malfunction, I would still have over sixty seconds to live before I hit the ground. (lol.) Just windy. So very much wind flying up at my face.
Then suddenly, the parachute was deployed, and we were floating peacefully in the sky. The instructors are definitely pros. One of my friends (and his instructor) got dangerously close to the top of our parachute, but of course, they navigated away at the last second. Pretty cool! We did a little whirly thing in the sky. The harness was so uncomfortable though. Ugh, my poor crotchal region. >_<
Landing is easy. Mako told me to lift up my legs and we literally slid onto the ground. We landed in a middle-of-nowhere field, home to two lucky cows. (Yes, I counted from the sky).
My Overall Thoughts on Skydiving!
Would I do it again? Probably not. It was a neat experience for sure, but it didn’t change my life like some people claim it does. It was really cold and there wasn’t that much of a thrill (past the initial jump out of the plane) until you descend to a certain height, since you are just SO high up. Maybe I was too trusting of my instructor, because I didn’t feel like I was in any immediate danger and my body didn’t produce any tummy-tumbling sensations like it would have on a roller coaster ride. Dare I say, that halfway through my freefall, I just got used to the feeling of falling at 150 miles per hour. Plus, I can’t take too much excitement in one lifetime, I’m boring like that. But, definitely something to check off on my bucket list, which reminds me, I should make a bucket list. Excuse me.