Monday, May 24, 2010


Everyone has their super power they wish they had, be it telepathy, invisibility, or for me, flying. I have never been afraid of heights, I love roller coasters, and never worry about turbulence on airplanes. I've wanted to go skydiving since I first heard about it.

As another birthday approached, I decided, no more waiting, I'm doing this now. I already had a trip to LA booked to visit friends, so I found a skydiving place to go near LA, an hour north in Camarillo. None of my friends were up for the leap, but it meant more for me to do it than to do it with anyone.
I drove up the Pacific Coast Highway this morning, beautiful coastal views, clear skies, sun shining. I was sorry I didn't bring my camera for the drive, even if I couldn't use it on the dive. Up in Camarillo, I went into the small airport, found the little one room office, and signed my life away on five pages of liability waivers. I kept wondering what would happen if we fell into a hawk or something, but put that out of my mind.

My tandem partner strapped me into a harness, gave me a pair of goggles, and we climbed into the tiny propeller plane. It was much too small to stand up inside, we sat in the back, me practically in instructor's lap so that he could connect my harness to his. I use instructor loosely, as the directions were: when I put my left foot out, you do the same, then we hang our right feet over the edge, arch back your back and neck and jump. Since I wasn't put in charge of the parachute, I didn't really need to know much more.

So we flew up to 10,000 feet over farmland near the coast. When we got to the right place, my partner opened the door of the plane and we looked down. This was my only moment of fear, sitting there with the door open, I thought, I'm gonna fall! And then I reminded myself that was the whole point, and I was fine. We stepped out, leaned back, and jumped. First we flipped around, then leveled out, I stuck my arms out and I flew. It was amazing, the wind hitting me, carrying me, the world tiny and spinning below me, not like I was plummeting towards it, but like it just existed far below, nothing but a vista.

After about a minute of free falling, he pulled the parachute cord, and we slowed significantly, the wind rush in my ears quieted a lot, and we fell perpendicular to the earth. The instructor let me take the reins of the parachute and steer us, so that we leaned and turned one way and the other the rest of the way down to the ground. We stumbled a bit on the landing, but it wasn't too hard, and then it was done.

I'm ready to go again. I bet it's more nerve wracking without the tandem instructor, but working up to it (as I can afford) sounds like fun to me.

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