By Vanessa Palencia
It’s all fun and games until the plane door opens and the wind gushes in.
Most people may gasp in horror at the idea of free-falling out of a plane, but I was one of the few who clapped excitedly at it. If you’ve been thinking about skydiving, but want to do all your research on it first,let me be the first to tell you: Stop!
Researching on skydiving can help inform you on all aspects of skydiving, including the bad. But once you’ve watched one “skydiving gone bad” video, then you may potentially scar yourself from ever trying your hand at one of the most surreal experiences ever.
Depending on where you live, you may need to schedule an appointment well in advance. I purchased my skydiving tickets through Groupon, an online American marketplace company offering local services and goods. However, I had purchased them for my boyfriend’s birthday back in December, but due to poor weather conditions, I had to reschedule my appointments until good weather kicked in. It wasn’t until May that we were finally able to get in. So if you’re thinking about skydiving, keep the season and weather in mind and be sure that you keep tabs on the expiration date, if there is any.
When the day of your appointment finally arrives, make sure to plan the travel ahead of time. Upon our arrival, we were led into the waiver room to watch a safety video and sign a release of liability contract. We were then instructed to wait in the lounge area until our names were called. Depending on how busy it is, the wait could take awhile, so pack snacks! If you’re the type that gets a little nauseous right before a big event, then eat light. Don’t overeat an hour before the jump to avoid possible vomiting.
After much anticipation, our names were called and we made our way into the prep room, which was really a warehouse. Here they provide you with a locker to store any personal belongings you have on-hand with you before suiting you up with a harness and start going over protocols.
The instructions they give you are fairly simple. When it’s time to jump, you put both of you legs out of the plane and onto the step (think mermaid tail) and cross your arms over your chest and hold onto your harness. That’s it. You don’t have to worry about anything else. You do have the option to back out of the jump when you’re in mid-flight, but you can’t back out if you’re the first one and the door is open because you can’t reposition with the other person by this time. So keep that in mind. Your instructor will ask if you’re ready, but they won’t count down (this can cause apprehension in some people) before they push you two off the plane. Some instructors may count down, but they push you on 2 to avoid people trying to grab onto the doors on 3. Just remember that as soon as you jump, you must immediately curl your legs back so that your legs wrap around their thighs and your feet touch their butt, creating a tail-like effect. This may be awkward for some of you, but I assure you that it’s essential to a smooth skydive. Follow the instructions given to you, and you will have a blast!
We went up about 9,000 feet, which took about 10 minutes of flight time to reach that altitude. During that time, everyone was pretty much silent. I was too excited and my nerves were on edge to do much casual talking. If you’re like me during situations like this, don’t worry about trying to create conversation. Just focus on the event ahead and mentally prepare yourself for the jump. The instructors will reiterate the instructions to you before you jump and ask how you’re doing.
Jumping out is the most exciting moment, so I would advise to do whatever you can to keep your eyes open during this part. It can be difficult, considering that you are tumbling in the sky and, if you’re like me, your stomach may feel like it’s fluttering and being flipped upside down. But, it is truly a once in a lifetime sight to see the sky beneath you and the earth above you. As soon as my boyfriend’s instructor opened the door and the wind started rushing in, the reality of jumping off a plane became painstakingly real. Everything else that happened afterward felt like a dream. I watched my boyfriend and his partner prepare themselves for the jump in apprehensive excitement. He was there one second and gone in another. When it was my turn, I put my feet out the door and was overwhelmed by how high we were. All I heard was my instructor asking me if I was ready and the next thing I knew, we were taken by the wind and started tumbling in the air. During the fall, I couldn’t help but think “Oh, god, what the hell did I get myself into?” And the inevitable thought of possibly dying from a dysfunctional parachute crossed my mind, momentarily psyching me out. But after adjusting to the upside down vision of Earth, I became comfortable and started to enjoy the view.
Once your instructor pulls the parachute, expect the harness, which is situated in the crevices of your inner thighs, to cut into you a bit. Unfortunately, there aren’t any pants or legwear that could help ease this pain, which is why you will be instructed to lift your knees and bring them to your chest to relieve the tension. Do that, and you’ll be fine. If you’re the kind that gets motion sick easily, then be prepared because the rest of the time will be spent spiraling down to the ground. When you start nearing the ground, you will be told to lift your legs to form an ‘L’ shape with your body before finally landing on your feet.
I had a wonderful skydiving experience, and I know that each person’s experience may vary, but I strongly encourage everyone to look into it and give it a try. A special shout out to Skydive Sacramento for making this moment possible for me and my boyfriend.