#1 Go skydiving

19 Aug

With experience number 1 under my belt, we set out this past Sunday to check number 2 off the list. For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to go skydiving, so Jonny Dangerously (appropriately named), Logan Cromwell and I met in Orange County for a nutritious breakfast and started our trek to San Diego to jump out of a plane. There are several places to go skydiving in Southern California – Santa Barbara, Perris, San Diego (there may even be others) – but we chose San Diego because of the amazing views we knew were in store. (Nothing against the lovely town of
Perris, CA.)

The drive to SD was pretty quick…probably because we were all as excited as little kids on Christmas. We arrived at  Skydive San Diego in plenty of time to use the luxurious porta-potties, watch a disclaimer video from 1972 and sign our lives away. We then attended a “training” session. I use the word training loosely here because the only real instruction we got were to arch our backs and bend our legs up trying to kick our instructors in the butt. Armed
with this knowledge we were ready to go.

After a short wait we were assigned to our instructors. I was paired with the same guy who had given our training – André. We chatted a bit as he was strapping me into the harness and I found out that André is from Brazil and only skydives part time, working for Southwest the rest of the time (mainly to get the free flights 🙂 ). Most of the instructors do this full time – jumping about 15 times per day – but André wants to be sure he doesn’t lose the passion for it, so cut back to only three days per week. Next we met Matt, my photographer. The three of us had a quick consultation about what faces to make and what hairstyle would result in the best photos (I’m sure you can guess whose idea this little meeting was).

Trained and fully acquainted with the man who was soon going to be responsible for my life, we headed out to the field and hopped on the plane. As we started to climb I was getting increasingly excited. I checked in with André to see how high up we were and his response was, “halfway.” This was the only moment that I got a little bit nervous because “halfway” was REALLY high up. I got over that quickly though and the excitement took over once again. Looking around the plane, people were starting to sit on their instructors laps to get attached and ready to jump.

Before you knew it, one by one the plane was emptying out. I was the last to jump and it felt like only a matter of seconds before it was my turn. Now, that moment everyone thinks they’re going to have skydiving – the one where you are staring out the door of the plane down to the earth below and think “I don’t know if I can do this” – didn’t happen. Smartly, the instructors don’t allow time for self-doubt. By the time you get over to the door, you are jumping out.

We jumped from 13,000 feet and freefell for approximately 60 seconds. The exhilarating feeling of falling from the sky was amazing and something that I don’t think I can even get close to accurately describing here. We spun in circles and posed for photos…it was amazing! What is even more impressive is the photographer. Without being attached to you, he stays right there, only a matter of feet away, capturing every moment of likely the most
adventurous thing you’ve ever done in your life.

At 5,000 feet André pulled the cord and the parachute opened up. The speed and rate at which you are falling toward the earth changes significantly at this point. You go from the force of the wind pushing back and distorting your face to a peaceful floating feeling. Personally, I liked the face-altering freefall part the best. With the parachute deployed everything is so calm and peaceful that you can now talk to your instructor and enjoy the view. Andre let me steer for a bit (super easy) and we got to spin in some fast circles as well. After about 8 minutes of floating back down to reality we came in for a smooth and easy landing.

At this point the exhilaration and amazement of what you have just done takes over. I ran over to my friends for a big group hug and we all exclaimed with excitement about how awesome the experience was. We had such a great time that we immediately started planning our next trip. Unless you are deathly, paralyzingly afraid of heights, I think everyone should try skydiving. It was an incomparable experience that provides an ultimate rush. I am so happy that I got the opportunity to do it and so thankful that my amazing friends Logan and Jonny were there to experience it with me.


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