As promised I am going to share an update on my experience this weekend skydiving in Miami. I want to say first off a big thanks to the guys at Miami Skydiving Center ( http://www.miamiskydivingcenter.com/ ). These guys were total professionals and the whole process could not have gone more smoothly. From start to finish they make sure you are totally comfortable, explain exactly what is going to take place in great (but easy to understand) detail and really seem to know their stuff. Not once did I have a doubt that things were going to go off without a hitch and I was not disappointed.
In a word, the actual jump itself was INCREDIBLE! I am not even slightly exaggerating here. I had an amazing time and as my instructor told me would be the case before the jump it is something you can’t put into words. Mind you I’m not often at a loss for words. However, skydiving really leaves you grasping for the vocabulary to sufficiently do the experience justice. If you have ever thought that you wanted to go skydiving I enthusiastically suggest you just do it.
With that out of the way, here is the skinny on how things went down:
Check in, this is just like checking in at a hotel. Name, driver’s license, credit card to pay any outstanding balance for your trip and to purchase extras. A word on extras, you will want pictures and video of your jump. There are two simple reasons for this, first this is your first time participating in this incredible sport, you owe it to yourself to record the experience. Second, should things not go exactly as planned your loved ones will have evidence for any legal action they may wish to initiate…LOL Just kidding, but no really, you never know. Shit happens!
Next we moved onto a quick course to familiarize us with tandem skydiving. This part takes from 30-40 minutes and is pretty straightforward. There truly is not much to know here as you will be partnered with a trained professional who will be doing all the heavy lifting and controlling your jump. Your responsibility will boil down to listening to some very simple instructions and trying not to screw them up.
Now you will be paired up with your instructor. They will take some time to further discuss the specifics of the jump, fit you with a harness and generally shoot the shit until it’s time to take off. In my case this was kind of amusing… I am 6’3″ 210 lbs.. My instructor was somewhere in the neighborhood of 5’6″ 155 lbs. This of course was by design as there are weight considerations. As he put it… “I’m the only one they could pair with you so we don’t end up meat pies on the ground”… not exactly comforting, but amusing…LOL
Takeoff time, this is when shit gets real… I’ll admit I had some butterfly’s about this time walking to the plane and as we ascended. During this time… there will be some final briefing as to how things will go down and some reminders on the key points once you exit the aircraft.
The moment of truth, jump time. With my group I volunteered to go first (no I’m not some fearless bad ass, there were some younger girls and their parents and there was no way I was letting them go before me;). We slid over to the door and with my instructor strapped to my back got in position with my feet on a rail just outside the door and held onto the handle above. He yelled in my ear, “you ready to do this”, I’m pretty sure I responded audibly “yeah let’s go”, but it’s possible I just nodded my head affirmatively. With this we just rolled forward out the door and into the blue sky’s above Miami. Per my pre-jump instructions I arched my back with my legs bent backward at a 90° angle. We immediately stabilized while hurtling towards earth at 160MPH give or take. As I said earlier… The feeling is inexplicable other than to say AMAZING! You are just hauling ass falling from the sky, your heart pounding, wind howling and pulling at you. Any attempt at a smile, which to be honest your face will be fixed into, resembles more like a dog with it’s face outside the window of a moving car.
Then, just like that, the instructor pulls the ripcord deploying you chute. I’ll be honest, this was the beginning of my least favorite part of the experience. Think of how it feels when you have to brake suddenly in a car and the seat belt locks up. Now imagine that same sensation in the region of your crotch. In a word it was unpleasant. From there on out it is a leisurely circling flight path back to terrafirma. I’m not sure if it’s my weight that made this so unpleasant, but it was extremely uncomfortable to dangle by my crotch for what seemed like a very long time.
Then we reached the ground which despite the instructors efforts to slow our decent seemed to rise far too rapidly up to meet us. Per the pre-jump instructions I lifted my legs and let him control our landing… This basically amounts to being dumped, from a decent height, directly on your ass and skidding to a halt.
Despite the parts I was not a fan of… The experience was amazing and I would do it again in a minute. I would also tell anyone who ever thought about it just make reservations and go. There are Groupons out there all the time for discounted jumps. Hope this motivates you to get out there and do it. If you want to learn more visit the United States Parachute Association website at http://www.uspa.org/ .