Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane: Skydiving
After trying bungee in December, it’s time to get back to my freefalling roots and back into skydiving. Although the season hasn’t started yet I’d thought I’d talk about it a bit and maybe get some of you interested by the time the season starts sometime in February. I’ll probably get a couple jumps in this year and hopefully have some more stuff to show you.
First off, what do I do? I’ve got my solo certification which allows me to jump alone at any dropzone in Canada. I have 18 jumps (all from 13,000 feet) and 15 minutes of wind-tunnel time. Hopefully, I’ll get a bunch more in this year and work towards my Class A license (which allows me to jump with another skydiver). It’s pretty cool stuff and jumping has and probably will never get old!
Before the actual freefall is just getting the courage to jump out of the plane. For me, the scariest part is watching everyone before me jump out. Seeing them drop like rocks towards the earth at unbelievable speeds is pretty nerve racking. Next, standing at the door and the actually act of jumping is almost just as scary. However, you know people are behind you so it’s no time to chicken out, so you jump and hope for the best. I like to jump out backwards so I can watch the plane fly away as I drop to the ground. It’s a pretty amazing sight to see.
From 13,000 feet it’s about 45 seconds of freefall. For me, it’s the same feeling as going down a large ramp at a rollercoaster except that feeling in your gut that seems to rise actually stops at about neck level. On a rollercoaster it never gets to that point as the descent is always too short. Even after 18 jumps, I still get the that feeling, which is cool but sorta scary at the same time. While in the air, I like to fool around and do turns, spins, flips, barrel rolls and work on new tricks (free-flying was something I was working on but it’s tough!). It’s pretty easy to think about when on the ground but it’s a whole different story in the air. There really isn’t anything hard to push off of in the air other than the wind, so it’s all about body position. At 5000 feet it’s time to pull the parachute out, get a hard jolt and go under canopy.
Under canopy, it’s about 5-10 minutes of gliding to ground. It’s time to relax and reflect on the jump while your legs are dangling 4000 feet in the air. Landing is probably the hardest part as you only get one shot and you have to time and plan everything right. A wrong move can mean broken legs or worse.
So, if you haven’t tried it, do it. If you are scared of heights, do it! You wouldn’t regret the experience. Plus, if you get cold feet when you are in the plane, it’s too late because the instructor strapped to your back on your tandem jump will push you out whether you like it or not!
Here are a couple pics of the only jump I had photographed. This is back when I did my certification a long time ago in Quebec. This year, I’m probably going to take some video or something so stay tuned.