On the first weekend of the new year, I jumped off a plane and fell about 15,000 feet.
Skydiving has always been on my bucket list for the longest time – probably since high school. The biggest obstacle was never the fear but instead was just finding people who were both interested and had the money to do so. Falling is expensive.
During my stay back home in Hawaii for the holidays, now that we’re all older and have both the time and resources, a few friends and I decided to fall out of the plane in celebration of my return. And coming from a thriller enthusiast, of course it was worth it! The experience is really unlike anything else.
We checked in at exactly noon to fill out papers and watch a tutorial video. After that, which took about 20 minutes, we had simply waited for two hours while watching others float back down onto the nearby grass patch as then learned how to stand again. While the reactions were fun yet relieving to see, the suspense of simply waiting, not knowing when would be next, was the worst!
At last, our names were called! We received name tags paired with our instructor’s name whom we were going to dive in tandem with. My instructor Brad was overall a cool guy: fun, helpful, and patient. He put on my harness as he repeated what the video instructed: hang on to the harness while jumping off, release my hands when he taps my shoulders during the fall, and keep my feet tucked and up throughout the fall.
The flight to the skies was a bit odd for me. It was a mixed feeling of impending doom and outright excitement. My friends’ instructors kept asking me if I was excited, and I feel like 95% of me actually was, but the sheer sight of the tiny people on the ground from way up high gave me the slightest of doubts, almost like a fear of heights. To make things worse (realistically probably better), I was the first to jump off!
“Just try stand up and I’ll walk for ya.”
I stood up as my cameraman opened the door for us. My instructor walked closer to the door as my cameraman jumped off first. Instantly, without even counting down, Brad jumped off doing an unexpected backflip. Out of nowhere for a split second, I’m looking up straight into the clouds, continuing in a tumbling motion for a solid three seconds. “I’m dead I’m dead I’m dead I’m dead I’m dead.”
The free fall itself is really unlike any other. Watching my cameraman right in front of me, falling as if I were him, was sublime. He would grab my hand to spin me around a full 360, making all the sensations even more extreme than you’d think you could feel. He would tell me to do several expressions, such as sticking my tongue out or making a peace sign or shaka for the camera, but doing all that was pretty hard to do given my first experience. On top of all that, I’m praying to the world that my goggles stay on and that I get enough air in my body, as breathing was actually incredibly hard to do.
About a minute later, the cameraman flies away and my instructor releases our parachute. Only from here were we allowed to look down; during the free fall we were to look straight up, cameraman or not, for reasons of physics and safety. The sensations are truly unlike any other. Amazing views paired with simply floating down back to land, it almost feels like a virtual reality video game, except, well, of course it’s real life!
My instructor gave me the handles to control the parachute. “You trust me with that?” Apparently somehow even if I let go of it, they know how to get it under control. I grab on to the handles and try to pull one of them, which drastically pulls all the forces of the wind in that direction. Pulling the handle felt like somewhere between twenty to thirty pounds worth of force, easily tiring my arm. Everything suddenly becomes loud as the wind pulls against the parachute. And as I make a sharp turn while pulling the handle, all the forces brought onto the parachute is equally brought onto the harness, especially the crotch. “Need a moment to fix your jank?” “Nah I’m good!”
I had no idea what to expect when landing, even after seeing everyone. I pulled my legs up as high as I could, so I could flatten them out as I land with minimal force. It was a little rough, but not bad at all. However, it did take me a while to learn how to walk again, haha. In addition my voice was the driest ever; I couldn’t even scream in excitement.
Afterward I got a spiffy certificate showing that I had the confidence to fall over ten thousand feet, which was pretty cool.
Overall, DEFINITELY worth it! Worth the jump, worth almost double the cost for the pictures, worth everything! I’m not sure if I’d do it again just because of the price, but if it were free I’d do it over and over. If you haven’t tried it yet, do it! You absolutely will not regret it.