I’m currently on vacation visiting my family for my sister’s high school graduation. We’ve had a great time visiting with everyone, and yesterday was our last day before heading back home. It was also one of the most exciting days because we all decided to go skydiving to celebrate my sister’s graduation and my Dad’s coworker’s birthday.
Here is a cool video from the MySpace page for Skydive Spaceland, where we made our jump. (you may have to click through if you are reading this from a reader or e-mail).
There were 6 of us making the jump: me, my wife, my Mom, sister, brother, and Dad’s coworker. My Dad wanted to go but, unfortunately tweaked his back recently and his doctor recommended he not jump this time. He plans on going for his birthday in August, if able. So how was it?
Skydiving was absolutely amazing! This was the first jump for all 6 of us, and we all had a great time. My Mom and sister each bought another jump because they loved it so much! They got a discount for purchasing their second jump in advance. Skydiving can be fairly expensive, but we were able to get nice discounts on our jump by taking advantage of a group discount and for jumping on a weekday. Just like vacationing in the off season, you can save money by doing things outside of the peak times. The total cost was around $135 per person.
The entire jump, from take-off to landing only took about 25 minutes. It took about 15 minutes to get to altitude, a few minutes to get lined up for the jump, and maybe 7-8 minutes to reach the ground, including the free fall.
The free fall was amazingly loud and I could feel my face rippling as the wind whipped across my body. At 6,000 ft my instructor gave me the signal to pull the cord. I waved in acknowledgment and pulled the orange golf ball attached to the rip cord.
I was expecting a huge jolt, but it was surprisingly gentle. We slowed down to a controlled glide and the instructor showed me how to steer and control the fall by pulling the left and right cords. When you pull them both (flare them), you could slow the descent to almost nothing. Conversely, if you pull one down hard, you can steer yourself into a fast spin. We did a couple 360s and 720s, flared to a stop, and guided ourselves to the landing zone. Right before touchdown, we flared the cords again and it slowed us down well enough that we just had to put our feet down and stand up. All in all, a great jump!
For more info about what a jump is like and what to expect, check out the Skydiving Magazine FAQ page.
Here are a few fast facts about our jump:
- We jumped in tandem with a licensed Skydiver
- We jumped from 14,000ft, the max altitude you can go without oxygen.
- Our free fall time was approximately 65 seconds.
- We deployed the chute at 6,000 ft.
- We traveled approximately 120 mph (193 kph).
What to look for when making your first parachute jump
- Safety first. Find a jump school with a good reputation and that is certified by the United States Parachute Association (USPA).
- Check the school’s safety record. A quick search on the web will give you all the info you need on the school’s safety record and reputation.
- Understand the basics. Pay attention to the instructions, ask questions, and go over the sequence of events with your instructor. He or she will likely go over this several times with you, but be sure to do it until you are comfortable with what you are going to do.
- Know the risks. There are risks inherent to jumping, and you should be aware of them. According to SkyDiving Magazine, about 35 people die each year in the U.S. while making approximately 2 million parachute jumps. Most of these accidents were not caused by equipment failure, but most often by mistakes of procedure or judgment. Drop Zone lists several risks and requirements for skydiving.
- Read the fine print. You will be asked to read and sign several pages of waivers, disclaimers, and legal documents stating you assume all risks associated with the jump – up to and including death. Yes, death is possible, but well over 2 million jumps are safely made in the US each year, and very few result in injury or death. In any case, they won’t let you jump without signing the waiver.
- Have fun. Skydiving is a blast! There is a reason so many people do this every year, and the reason is that it is a beautiful and amazing experience. Live it up!
Many thanks to the folks at Skydive Spaceland in Rosharon, TX, and a special thanks to Ben for bringing me in safely.
Want to go skydiving? Check the internet for your local skydiving school or jump club, or call 1-800-SKY-DIVE to get connected to the jump school closest to you.