Skydiving, have you ever thought of jumping from the roof of a tall building ? I am sure you would have thought not to jump as it was scary ! Someone said, “life is not remembered by your breaths, it is remembered by your experiences and moments”. Thrilling moments, Scary moments…Ok ! Enough!!! I am shutting up with my stupid lecture now!
I like to try different things in life, one of the things was Skydiving that was on my list. I try to think of all the adventures and crazy things one can ever imagine and try them once. Life is all about experiences ! I visited my friend at Ohio state University in Summer of 2007, me and other friend decided, we will do skydiving together. Guess what, there are three options apparently in skydiving, I did not know that…they said, we have three Tandem skydiving, Static line skydiving and Accelerated Free Fall ( AFF).
Well, first thing I asked was, “which is more extreme or dangerous”.
They said, AFF. This is what I thought, “Let’s say, my fortune was bad and something terrible were to happen to me, I would rather die doing the most scariest thing than doing mediocre one”. That instant, I said to myself and the Skydiving crew, I am doing Accelerated Free Fall.
Types of Skydiving :
Well, for those who don’t know, Tandem is where you are technically tied to another professional skydiver and you just do nothing. You are like a baby kangaroo in Kangaroo’s pouch J. Static line is very basic, your parachute is in the plane and it opens fully after you jump over 50 meters or so. It is usually done at lower heights around 3,600 Feet. The most extreme for a beginner is Accelerated Free Fall. It is dangerous and thrilling because, you open the parachute, you experience significant free fall. You are on your own doing the landing pattern. The typical heights you jump can vary anywhere from 13,000 Feet to 14,000 Feet. As you know oxygen and pressure decrease as we go up, they do not take you over that for the most part. Tandem is also jumped from the same height, but you are tied to professional.
My Accelerated Free Fall Training :
First thing for any extreme sports or adventures is you sign a waiver. They gave me eleven page document to sign on every page. I skimmed along, and thought for a second, should I really do this? Well, it is pretty scary, they tell how many people die and stuff and they are not liable. You get nothing like life insurance or anything, etc… Anyway, I decided I am doing it and signed all of them. We had like a 8 to 9 hour long training. It was ridiculous, too much information. You watch the film of all the scariest accidents that can happen when you do skydiving. They tell you what to do, if you get into a situation like that. I pretty much was scared to death inside me after watching them. But, as usual human ego is strong, I did not want to be a quitter. They make you do a routine and you do like a 100 times, I can do it now too. They teach you what you do at every height. You have an altimeter that says what height you are at. It is exactly like watch and you have it on your wrist. I can still remember after two and half years, what they exactly told me. Because you are doing AFF, according to skydiving regulations, they cannot let a beginner jump by themselves, so two professionals jump with you, one on each side. They will be beside you as moral support and will make sure you open the parachute on time. The key idea is you have to an arch. Think of it, you bend your whole body into a V shape at pelvis bone sticking your crotch bone forward. It improves your aerodynamics just like a helmet shape. I was so sick of doing the arch by the end of training. Landing pattern is very critical too, they teach you how to turn and maneuver yourself. There is lot of planning in landing. You have to land against the wind. In fact, you are coming with a huge acceleration with your body mass at least 35 – 40 miles and hour. If you do not take good landing, your bones and body are all will be broken and shattered into ground . So, you land against the wind and pull your canopy (the big cloth that holds you up in air ) strings down in a sequence of one two three as they teach you… Remember, you can have a perfect jump, but if you get a bad landing, you can be crippled for life ! Anyways, too much training stuff for AFF because it is important. You are usually carrying a training parachute kit as a backpack. If for some reason, something goes wrong, there is another parachute inside and they said, there is a sensor or something that aids in opening… Guess what, If you time is bad, no spares will stop you J There were many things, but I will stop here…
Skydiving Experience after Jump:
( Right after Jump )
It is very noisy with air rushing past you…cold with misty clouds around you…. I took a photographer, he was busy taking pictures and capturing video of me…it is amazing how these guys do this photo and video capturing…quite a skill ! The free fall lasts for around 40 seconds, meanwhile you are busy all 35 seconds doing the pattern they taught you. Because it is first jump, they want you to stick to routine and do it. Once you get experienced you get to enjoy the real spirit of it for all 40 seconds or so….Anyways, I opened parachute at around 4,500 feet.
These were the moments that I will never forget in life…What a view ? What an awesome experience….You are like a bird, it takes about 5 minutes to get down to ground. You enjoy the view and it is awesome ! I cannot describe in words, you can only experience it… There is a radio attached to your head gear and you get instructions live from the team on where to turn and other stuff. Well, there was bit confusion in our with me…When they wrote names, they switched the names of my friend with mine and started saying stuff of other person to me on my radio. Guess what ? I was going away and away from the drop zone. I was not sure, I was following their instructions and when was around 500 feet, I realized I was way away from drop zone, like a mile away…I just followed my instincts and landed. I missed a tree by like 5 feet when landing…Trees are bad for skydiving, you could get killed ! it is not like movies where hero gets stuck in tree…reality is, trees are bad and you can get killed. I was quite lucky, if I were to get hit, I would not be writing this blog ! Thank God ! Finally they came and picked me up in the fields, I was freaking tired dragging the canopy.
Look at the panoramic view !
Is Skydiving Addictive ?
There are quite a few people that say skydiving is addictive. It gives you the joy and freedom to be by yourself. If you are brave, it is more relaxation. You can do lot of stunts in air and be cool. So, if you get plugged in, you get addictive! It might be too much direction to your life J !
After Skydiving :
They gave me my DVD with my skydiving feet in it. It was awesome ! I called home and told, I just did skydiving, my parents were so mad at me. But, I told them it was done, they were still mad, I said I will not do it again… there ends the story ! Whenever I tell people I did skydiving, they say, “really you did it ? I want to do it too, but I am scared”. Honestly, it is not that bad and much safe than you think.
How many people die in Skydiving accidents ?
Well, based on some info, they say about 35 people die in USA out of total 2,000,000 ( two million) jumps. On the other hand, the research shows around 42,000 people die every year in Car accidents. Roughly, on an average around 100 people die every day in car accidents. Just compare the statistics. The odds of you dying in Skydiving are very less than dying by car accident. So, numbers speak the truth and it is much safe than you think.
Who cannot do skydiving?
The rules say that you cannot do skydiving if you have a heart condition or blood pressure, etc. There is a big list, I do not remember, but it is not recommended if you have health problems.
Overall, tag line from the Skydiving facility I jumped…
“Add some direction to your life”