I was born with an adventurous spirit and each year I honor it by flying somewhere fun and exotic for my birthday. However, with the Covid lockdowns around the world, flying was not possible!!! I pondered this and thought, “Well, I CAN’T fly in an airplane for my birthday – but I CAN jump from one”….So, I went SKYDIVING. I love experiencing things (even though I am typically terrified) and it’s not everyday you get to jump out of an airplane at 13,000 feet. Plus….it’s one gift I won’t have to return (LOL).
Why Would Anyone Want to Jump Out of a Plane?
This is a very common and understandable question. To me, the answer is simple: sometimes you have to push yourself!!! I am not an adrenaline junky nor a big risk taker but I have an appetite for adventure and try not to let my niggling fears get in the way.
In my 20’s, a friend challenged me to skydive. I was terrified but too stubborn to decline. The details of that exciting day are permanently etched in my memory. I wasn’t sure what I was doing as the plane ascended, so I had to “let go” and trust (not easy). We stood at doorway and the Earth seemed so far away. There was no turning back. The wind, the thrill, the beautiful rolling hills of Petaluma, California left me breathless. We landed softly and in minutes, it was all over. Dizzy and exhilarated, I stood up filled with gratitude, a sharp sense of presence, and deep joy. I was immensely proud of myself and stood taller as a result.
This year it was time to challenge myself again. My birthday jump was just as amazing and unforgettable.
Diving tandem is so unique. You are in the hands of a confident instructor who does everything for you. You also share the experience with someone who is right there with you. The entire things lasts 15/20 minutes (not including the wait time). The plane climbs to altitude and opens the door. Everyone is both nervous and excited. There were 3 other tandems jumping with me and two students jumping on their own.
Once the door opens, it goes quickly. I was the second to last to leave the plane. My instructor kept moving us closer to the door, then we were standing. Next, we were out. We were Falling and spinning but I could breathe and enjoy the rush of warm air that rose up to soothe my nerves.
After 50/60 seconds the chute is pulled. The rush in replaced by a peacefully slow descent. We floated gently looking over the Southern California landscape I could see Mexico, San Diego and the Pacific Ocean. Four minutes later, we floated down and landed softly between the flags. My instructor was calm and mindful throughout our time together. He was in complete control and told me everything that was going to happen so I felt safe and secure. He was a true professional.
What to Expect when Skydiving
All dives are different depending on the company, day, climate, wind, instructor etc. But here are some general things to expect:
- Fear – this is a given – you can do it though! … (If fear is an issue, read this article overcoming fears).
- Exiting the plane – This is probably the most difficult part but a good instructor helps you feel safe. Just put goggles on and let go.
- The freefall is a blip of time – It lasts 45-60 seconds. The goggles protect you from the wind and you can breathe normally. I enjoyed the freefall more than I expected.
- The deep peace once the chute is pulled – The gentle descent lasts about 4 minutes. Unlike the free fall this part is relaxing. “This must be what angels feel like”.
- The landing is soft and precise – I feared landing in the lake or breaking my leg but we landed like a feather with no impact.
- Scary but not dangerous – Skydiving sounds much scarier than the actual risk involved. “Statistically, you’re more likely to die being struck by lightning or stung by a bee”. source
- Conquering something- There is no denying that, “Facing your fears head-on makes for a richer, more rewarding life”.
My Novice Skydiving Tips:
The most important tip is going with a reputable company. Skydive San Diego were great! (For inspo, check out their Instagram). (No ad, just my honest opinion). Get a referral or read reviews online until you find a company you feel confident about. Now, consider these tips:
- Opt for a scenic area. You have a wonderful birds eye view so a scenic location makes a big difference.
- Request “the most” experienced instructor. Especially if you are scared.
- Tie your hair back. There are no helmets and your hair flies everywhere.
- Don’t eat/drink a lot beforehand- I went early on an empty stomach which kept me from frequenting the portable restrooms.
- Go alone if you can’t find anyone to join you. Most friends will think you’re nuts and won’t join you so go alone and make it a special gift to yourself.
- Wear comfortable clothes. Yoga/running pants and a comfortable top and sneakers. The tandem straps go around your thighs so nothing that will bunch up.
- I didn’t get the jump video. This is a personal choice, but I wanted to be fully present and not worry about being filmed. It also saved me a lot of money.
- Fear of heights? If you suffer with acrophobia, read this article here.