September 11, 2013
Why would you jump out of a perfectly good airplane? Just plain crazy? Midlife crisis?
My answer: Because it is amazingly fun.
My first jump was not a solo act, of course. It was a tandem jump. A tandem jump means you are harnessed to the front of a jump master, who controls the whole flight from free fall to canopy to landing.
The rookie’s role is so limited, in fact, that there is very little instruction needed before you make your first jump. The parachute is larger than normal to support two people and there is a reserve chute in case the main chute, God forbid, does not deploy. There is also an Automatic Activation Device (AAD) that deploys the reserve chute automatically at a certain elevation.
I don’t really like flying and I am afraid of heights, but still found it to be one of the most amazing things I have ever done. After making the appointment I started to really think about what I was about to do.
One minute I was OK with it and the next minute I would be thinking this is crazy and I should cancel. I started thinking about how the harness works or how strong the clips are that keep you and the jump master together. I kept thinking about things like that and I was starting to get freaked out.
Once we arrived at Westside Skydive and put the harness on and went through the instructions I settled down a bit. The plane ride up was unnerving for me being so close to the door and being able to see straight down. The plane ride took about 15 minutes to get to 14,000 feet. Once the plane slows down, it’s go time and you’re getting into position to jump. The jump master rocks back and forth a few times and then you jump.
Free fall lasts for about 45 to 90 seconds. It’s a little hard to breath. Careening towards the earth at 120 m.p.h. is awesome. You don’t get the roller coaster effect when free falling. At least I didn’t get that feeling. It’s just a rush.
The canopy ride down lasts about five minutes and is very peaceful. They loosen up the harness a bit and then you just float. They will let you pilot the canopy which is was a lot of fun. I just wanted a nice peaceful float down so I just held on to the handles. It was very calming and the view was unreal. The landing was pretty smooth and we landed on our feet. Some people slide in on their butt. The whole experience was awesome and the people at Westside Skydive were great. Would I do it again? Absolutely.