I believe I can fly…
If last weekend was about being Spiderman and Batman for a day, this weekend was about being Superman! Skydiving is an activity that was on our ‘must do in life’ list for a long time but we never had the time and opportunity to schedule it and take the plunge! As we did not have any other plans for the Fourth of July weekend, we decided to finally jump off a plane.
We chose Parachute Center near Lodi as their rates were much lower than other operators. Here they do not offer you a jumpsuit or fancy goggles, but you can be sure they will take you up and bring you down safely… or let me just say as safe as any other place would. I guess what I am trying to say is that if fate decides to make you a statistic, no one can fight it! Their location is not hard to find if you follow the directions on their website. But it was crowded when we went on a Saturday. We had to wait an hour and a half for our turn to jump.
Do not wear open-toed shoes. Wear sneakers. Collarless T-shirts are recommended so that the collar doesn’t beat against your neck. Same goes for earrings with pointed ends behind your ears. In fact, it is better to avoid accessories of all sorts – watches, bracelets, dangling earrings, necklaces, rings etc. Avoid wearing sleeveless tops so that the parachute straps don’t burn your skin.
As soon as you get to the Center, you will need to sign-up and pay upfront. You will then complete paperwork and watch an orientation video. When your number is called, you will be provided a harness and a very basic eye protection. Before you are helped with your harness, you will be provided a drawer to keep your small stuff like car keys, wallet, cellphones. You then meet the instructor you will jump with and the photographer/videographer you will jump right before you do, to take your snaps.
The plane took about 5 minutes (seemed longer) to climb to an altitude of about 13000ft. Everything happens so fast that there is no time for second thoughts, which is a relief actually!
Your instructor will go through the required positions and instructions. After about a minute of free fall, as you defy death and succumb to gravity, the parachute opens up. The sudden upward thrust as the chute catches the wind will jerk you up. The view as you fall is unparalleled. Enjoy every bit of it! Landing back on terra-firma is not too bad. I think it is easier if you and instructor land on your butt.
I doubt if I will ever find the right words to describe this experience! It is exciting to fly like a bird in the sky! Jumping off a plane in mid-air, face first onto Earth below, is not something you will do often in life. However, this is something you must do at least once in your life!