Extreme Skydiver and Hollywood stuntman Luke Aikins of California is making headlines everywhere as he is preparing to freefall tonight without a parachute 25,000 feet from the sky with only a net to catch him!
I’m sure this news alone is inspiring all adventure seekers alike to take the skies! Of course not all of us are super extreme. Some of us prefer an operable parachute and the attachable experienced instructor. So, if you’re hyped to give a try, read on because I have a compiled a list of ten things a sky newbie should be aware before you soar:
1. Make sure you find a FEW reliable schools in your area or the destination of your choice. Finding a good school is not as hard as you think in fact you can find them online and read reviews from an assortment of schools. This is where TripAdvisor became really handy so I can make a better decision. Also, look for one that is certified with the United States Parachute Association (USPA) as these schools have to follow standards of safety and regulations to retain their certification.
The skydiving school of choice for me was the Miami Skydiving Center. What attracted me to their services was their professionalism; great customer service and their enthusiasm to make sure you are safe.
2. Skydiving can cost anywhere from $150 USD to as much as $300 depending on additional services (like video or other media add-ons) added to your adventure. Make sure you are prepared to spend money and beware of schools that claim to jump for cheap. The money thing shouldn’t even be a decision factor when choosing the experience and safety.
However, there are legit deals that you can obtain through services like Groupon. Sometimes the schools or other businesses offer their services for a discounted price due to things like bringing in more business on a slow season when people have already spent their money.
For example, I jumped after New Years and was able to snag a deal due to the major holidays. Had I booked directly with the school, I would have spent close to $250 but with Groupon I brought my adventure with video for $146 (A savings of 58%)!
Also, lay off the extra expenses too like the add-ons. Some schools will make an offer for you to buy their merchandise like shirts and other knickknacks. The choice is yours but really all you need is the experience and the video. After completing the jump that’s really all that matters.
3. There are different types of skydiving adventures: Tandem, Static Line, and Accelerated Freefall.
Tandem is the most common way to go for someone who has never soar the skies before. In this type, you are attached to a certified skydiver who is given the task of pulling the chute. This is the style I went with.
Static Line means you’re on your own but the chute will open by itself via a static line that is attached to the plane.
Accelerated Freefall is pretty much for the confident jumper too. You have your own chute but you’re not jumping alone. There are two certified instructors who jump alongside you and maintain physical contact until the chute is pulled.
4. You must be of age- 18 years and older. Also your weight plays a role as well- you must be less than 250 pounds in order to qualify for the jump.
5. Dress accordingly. Check temperatures the week of to determine your diving clothing gear. If it super hot- wear light clothing otherwise you’ll be sweating from the sunlight. Wear a short sleeve, crewneck tee and shorts or light pants. I wouldn’t suggest jeans. On the other end of the spectrum, if it is cold-wear long sleeve shirts and long pants to keep you warm from the gust of wind. Wear protective sunscreen in either instance.
Stay away from open toe shoes, flip-flops and heavy boots. As for hair tied it back in a loose bun or ponytail; no need to slap your instructor mid-air with it. You can wear your contact lenses or glasses. Goggles are given before you leave the plane so no need for you to buy protective eyewear in advance.
6. Eat about 2 hours in advance. I wouldn’t suggest eating right before a jump. No one wants to experience a forecast of puke from the skies. Same with alcohol consumption; if you have to drink before jumping perhaps you should reconsider this adventure.
While you wait before you jump, make a pit stop to the restroom to empty your bladder before departing.
7. If you have medical issues like heart conditions, be sure to get some kind of clearance from a physician before jumping. You will be free-falling at speeds well past 110 mph so that experience alone will get your adrenaline and heart rate pumping into overdrive.
The school will have you sign paperwork and a contract that states that you do or do not have medical issues and they have the right to obtain documentation. If you don’t turn it in, your signature will give them clearance that you were made aware of the consequences. Speak with your doctor first.
Also if you have a sensitive stomach, be sure to let the instructor know in advance. When the chute opens as you float down, the instructor likes to do tricks, like letting you control the gliding motion or pop wheelies turning the chute in full circles. If you have a high probability to be nauseated and/or vomit, let them to know so they can omit the wheelies and make the descent less adventurous.
8. Be prepared for cancellations. This is what happened to me: originally I was supposed to jump the week of my birthday in late December, but because South Florida was experiencing a gust of wind and heavy precipitations that weekend, my appointment was cancelled. I had to move my appointment two weeks later which was a bummer because I was so hyped. It actually did me a favor as it turns out because that the day, the skies were clear and it was the perfect temperature.
9. Bring someone for support. I was going to go by myself because I’m cool like that. Hahaha. All jokes aside, I wasn’t expecting anyone to go because my family thinks I was crazy for jumping but they also know that I am quite the adventurous girl who doesn’t give up easily. I was getting ready to leave in my car when I lifted my head and realized that my mother open my passenger door to get in the car. She said as she buckled her seatbelt, “You are not going by yourself.” Gotta love mum.
10. Allot for your adventure to take about 4 hours of your time. The jump alone takes about less than 10 minutes. But, the typical schedule is as followed from my experience which added on the time:
• Arriving to my destination, which took me about an hour to get there
• Filling out paperwork
• Waiting on the team of divers to return from the previous jump
• Thirty minute instructions
• Board the plane
• Waiting to exit the plane
• THE JUMP!
• Drive back to the diving center
• Waiting for your video to be burned on a disc
• Post my certification on Facebook 🙂
• Rush home to devour lunch and had a self-congratulatory beer [Hell yea!]
I hope this inspires you to not only give skydiving a try, but to give every adventure in life a try. This experience is guaranteed to give you a fresh perspective on everything and if you’re nature person like me, it will reward you with beautiful views of Earth. This grandeur adventure was so worth it!
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