Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Nick Goes Skydiving, Part 1

Last Sunday, Nick went skydiving with our friends Norm and Andy. None of them had ever done it before then. They booked a time slot to do tandem skydiving through Skydive Hollister and while they weren't able to have a camera with them for the portions pertaining to the actual skydiving experience, they certainly had all sorts of entertaining tales which they regaled me with upon their return. I thought skydiving might be the sort of fun adventure that many are curious about but may want more info on, so I asked Nick to help me prepare a piece for people who might want more information about his experience. I'll save the odd quirks specific to their particular skydiving facilitator for another time. This is the part that contains actual useful information.

How would you describe the experience in the air?
It's like being on a really long downward roller coaster ride, minus the uneasy stomach feeling.

Was it scary?
No. If you're considering skydiving, or have made the decision to go skydiving, you're probably already self-aware enough to know what fears you need to be over before going. Tandem skydiving lets you experience skydiving with the safety of being strapped to an expert who will pull open the chute for you. The scariest part was actually the plane ride; you'll be eager to jump out of that thing.

What was the plane ride like?
I had a stranger strapped to my back. One of my elbows was pretty much touching the plane's wall and the other was practically rubbing the elbow of another jumper, and then there was the other plane wall next to him. Right in front of me was a huge chute pack, another tandem partner, and then another jumper. It was impossible to move. And because the plane was so small, it felt like it was being tossed around by the wind the whole time.

So it's not like the spy movies where they get suited up in a big hollow plane cabin and then sit around before it's time to jump?
No, not at all. Though that was what I was expecting going into it.

What types of people would you caution against skydiving, outside of the obvious?
People who are claustrophobic (because of the plane situation), people who are prone to motion sickness (because of the rickety plane and the bus that collects you after you land), and people who don't like sharing close quarters with a stranger (since you'll be strapped to your tandem partner).

What would you recommend people to wear?
Any old t-shirt and pants will do. But make sure you wear tightly-laced, closed-toed shoes. There have been incidents of people losing their shoes in the air.

What did you wish you had known ahead of time?
The biggest thing was the wait. We didn't know that after checking in for our appointment time, there was still a 2–4 hour wait before actually getting called to get into our harnesses and board the plane. I also was expecting to get to change into a jumpsuit but they just put the harnesses around out regular clothes. Leave your valuables in the car instead of checking them in at "reception". Expect to feel exhausted after the adrenaline rush wears off several minutes after you land.

| Photo Credit: N. Morello, for The Yuppie Lifestyle. |

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