Sky Diving

The best things in life God placed on the other side of fear. 

With my selection of hobbies, I often get asked if I have a death wish.  Not at all.  It is exactly the opposite, I want to see and experience everything that life has to offer so I actively pursue going everywhere and doing as many things as possible.  While sky diving is certainly a higher risk recreational sport than most, it is not nearly as intimidating as it first appears and is literally quite the ride. Besides it can be quite a good life de-stressor... after hurling your body out of a plane at 4000 meters and going into free fall all of your problems suddenly seem very insignificant.

The best introduction to the sport is via tandem jumping where you are attached to a very experienced jumper that is responsible for your safety the entire time.  This provides the complete thrill of stepping up to an open door and jumping out when the light goes green without any responsibility.  After you stabilize quickly there is time to play in the wind and enjoy the brief free fall before the instructor pulls the parachute and the descent slows to a leisurely view of the ground that is still far below.  As the earth becomes closer and closer, the instructor says exactly when to lift your legs before safely sliding in to a stop.

If you love the exhilaration of tandem skydiving, completing the Accelerated Free Fall (AFF) course is the next step.  This consists of 7 jumps that progressively place responsibility for all actions on you as the jumper.  After completing hours of classroom training on the fundamentals of skydiving and practicing emergency procedures, you are off to prep for your first jump.  The initial three jumps have two instructors jumping with you to help stabilize your fall and ensure that nothing goes wrong while you try to maintain control of the panic and remember to follow the proper procedures. Each jump adds basic skills to include turning, back flipping, and tracking while the instructor becomes increasingly hands off to build your confidence.  I literally never felt prepared for any jump but was replaying the sequence continually in my head as the plane climbed before each jump. After successfully completing all 7 levels of AFF it is time to go up and make the jump completely on your own.  Not much changes from the 7th AFF jump, but the pressure is on because no one is there to help.  It is a simple jump with only practice pulls and no maneuvers, but I could not help myself letting out a happy yell upon properly landing my first solo jump. 

Overall this is a great sport to try for any adrenaline junkie and not as daunting as it seems.  Listen to the instructors, focus on the jumps, and have fun seeing the world from all new angles!