Skydiving

On Sunday, Victor and I went skydiving for the first time. It has always been in my bucket list of things to do as an adventure seeker, and I always liked the feeling of free falling on a roller coaster or a drop ride. I call it a stress reliever. I wanted to do bungee jumping too but skydiving seemed more fun!

I researched and found the cheapest one around here, called Parachute Center, near Lodi, CA. It was only $100, and no reservations required, which is quite surprising. However, Sunday was a cloudy day, and we were afraid that the weather would not hold up and we are not able to jump. But they were still open and we went anyway. Another setback was my car needed a tire change but fortunately I found a place to change it in the morning before we set off.

We reached the place at around 1.30pm and within 30 minutes we were getting ready. There were no long instructional videos, no frills, just a single piece of paper to sign. The place is like in a warehouse/hanger, with many lockers storing the parachutes. While waiting, someone shouted that they need an ambulance. I was slightly alarmed. Apparently a single jumper veered off-course and got stuck in a powerline across the freeway. Woah…what a good sign.

After a short wait, we went to the gear-up room, where our instructor came to help us wear our harness and give us basic instructions. My instructor even better, he said he will give me instructions on the plane. Our photographer/videographer also met us. They will jump with us and help us take photos and videos. Mine had a Canon DSLR and an oldschool DV camera mounted on his helmet, while Victor’s guy had two GoPros, one for video and one for photos. (It turned out that his video was better quality than mine.)

After a while, the plane landed and it was time for us to board the plane! They really packed the plane to the brim, with everyone sitting facing the back of the plane chest-to-back, with our instructors behind us. The photographers all sat on the floor near the door. During the flight, my photographer took a video and asked me if I have any last words. No, I said. Haha. The plane flew in circles and took a slow climb up to 13,000 feet, or about 4000 meters. And that’s almost the height of all the clouds on that day. The plane actually flew through the clouds and it was all white around us, but they found a gap in the clouds, and the door opened. The moment has come.

Sometimes I think that I am scared of heights. But I think I am not really scared of heights, but I am more afraid of falling and not having a safety net. Skydiving IS falling and has NO safety net. Haha. (except the parachute of course.)

A couple of people went before me and then it was my turn. We had to squat because the ceiling of the plane is pretty low. The photographer went out of the door, one hand on the side railing, to be ready to capture me coming out. Then he jumped. Then my turn, “Ready, set, go” and off we jumped.

“Ahhhh” I yelled. My expression was priceless, so says a Facebook friend. The instructor said most people forget to breathe so just yell. Yelling is stress-relieving anyway. The first few moments of the jump was the most overwhelming and most intense. It was like, wow I’m really jumping off a plane into nowhere. Wow this is really fast. Wow, this is amazing. Free like a bird.

The free fall was really fast, lasted about a minute. It was so fast that I didn’t realise it was over. During that time, the photographer flew around me to take photos and videos. At one moment, he grabbed my hand to link up and get a close-up shot. (He told me about this before we jumped.) After that he left because he has to land earlier to take a photo of me landing. I tried to keep smiling for the camera, but because the wind is so strong, it causes my cheeks to puff up and make me look weird and funny in all the pictures. haha.

I didn’t know that the instructor pulled the parachute until after a while. I felt an upward surge and I was like “Woahh” and I thought we were flying upwards. But it was the parachute. Haha. The instructor did a few quick turns to make me feel dizzy, but also just for fun. After that, it was a slow and gradual ride to the ground. The view was mostly grape farms, but it was still spectacular. I asked what if we land in the farms, the instructor said it never happened before. Haha.

We landed by sitting down on the grass. I guess it was a safety precaution to prevent people from breaking their ankles. When I stood up, my legs felt a bit jelly.

The whole experience finished in less than 2 hours. We collected our DVDs and CDs from our photographers, who each had like a little locker with their computers and burning devices. It was an amazing experience, thank God for we were safe and sound, and I want to do it again!

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