By: Divya Shiv
Let me preface this by saying that I am not an adrenaline junkie by any means. I don’t like running, I don’t like rollercoasters and I certainly don’t like things that make me scared. This is why I found myself wondering what exactly I was doing on a Thursday afternoon, 14,000 feet above the ground in a tiny airplane about to jump off.
I don’t think I realized that skydiving specifically meant jumping off a plane and landing with only a parachute to prevent any crashes. But, of course, this all hit home when I swung my legs out of the plane and began falling.
The first few seconds were terrible. My mind was going crazy, and I was so shocked and scared that I screamed as if my life depended on it. However, the wind around my instructor and me was so loud that I couldn’t hear the squeals and shrieks that were rushing out of my flapping mouth. Fortunately, my body took over and kept my head tilted back and my hands secured firmly in my harness while my mind continued to have a little freak out of its own.
Then came the best part; the adrenaline kicked in. Suddenly I was euphoric, proud that I had gone through with this crazy act and also awed by this out-of-body experience. I was in free fall, and although I was still incredibly far away from the ground, skydiving didn’t seem so scary anymore. In fact, it was fun.
My instructor, Matt, then asked me how I felt, and I mumbled something incoherently, mostly because I just couldn’t describe how I really felt. I was still on that adrenaline high, but more than that I was completely amazed by the beauty around me. The sea beneath us was gorgeous, with rolling turquoise waves that met with the horizon right in front of me, and everything was so serene and calm that I couldn’t remember what I had been so worried about just a few minutes ago. It was a mixture of peace and excitement that I had never before experienced in my life.
However, the weirdest part was how natural it felt, as if I was supposed to be in free fall sitting in a harness thousands of feet above the ground. Though I did get a bit scared by the jerky movement caused by my instructor pulling the parachute open, I felt as if I was meant to take part in this incredible experience, and I was so grateful that I had gotten the opportunity to do so.
The instructor then gave me the two ropes that helped steer us, and I’m sad to say that I didn’t take advantage of this by doing backflips or anything like that. Despite this, I was still in awe of the feeling of responsibility, knowing that both of our lives were in my trembling hands. We did a few sashays, rocking gently from left to right, and we spun around a bit, but by the time I realized that I was actually in charge of the parachute and could do what I wanted, it was time to land.
Matt, my instructor, took the two cords in his hands, and we pulled gently into the strip of sand that, from my position in the sky, didn’t seem large enough to land on. He instructed me not to do the stereotypical skydiving method of running toward the ground feet first, so instead we landed on the soft sand as if we were about to sit on a chair. Once I landed, I immediately wished that I had had some more time up in the air. I knew that this would be an experience I would never forget.
By: Monica Cai
I am an adrenaline junkie. You know those moments on roller coasters when you’re going downhill so fast your stomach is in your throat? I live for those moments. So when I had the opportunity to go skydiving, I jumped at it, literally.
I didn’t feel the nerves until I stepped into Skydive Surfcity’s office. Seeing all of the equipment made me want to turn around and drive home, but I swallowed my fear and went ahead. I signed all of the forms, unaffected by the phrases “serious risk” and “possible death.” I wasn’t afraid that my parachute wasn’t going to open—I knew the chances of that happening were slim , despite my friends’ misgivings. I was afraid that I was going to mess up, and the words “liable for damages to aircraft and other equiptment” kept resonating in my mind. I could definitely see myself somehow breaking the plane.
Once in the plane, I chose to ignore my fear of heights by staring out the window. As Santa Cruz disappeared and fluffy puffs of white clouds replaced it, I felt my heart beat a little faster. Suddenly they were opening the side door, and Divya stuck her legs out and began to fall. That was the scariest moment—watching Divya and her instructor tumble through the air, falling at way too fast of a speed. I felt sick for a moment, but we were already taking our place by the door. I stuck my legs out, arched my head back and we were off.
Although I expected free falling to feel like Great America’s Drop Zone, I never got that weird feeling in my stomach. All I felt was the wind around me as I flipped through the air. I had chosen not to wear shoes or gloves because I wanted to feel the wind in my fingers and toes, but it turns out that the wind is freezing. I remembered to smile though and flashed a lot of thumbs up at the camera, the universal hand gesture for skydivers.
Once the parachute was pulled, the relaxing part began. I felt like I was sitting on air, and although we were still thousands of feet high in the air, it wasn’t scary. The view was absolutely amazing—the golden beach, the blue-green ocean and the brown and green fields dotted with trees.
At one point I got to steer the parachute and I pulled the right handle as hard as I could. We began spinning in circles, picking up speed, and as I looked down at the beach, I felt in control. The beach below me swirled together as we spun, and it felt like being in one of those spinning teacups at Disneyland, except prettier and a million times more exhilarating.
The whole thing went by too fast, and before I knew it, we were landing. My decision to not wear shoes was finally rewarded, and I landed feeling the warm grains of sand between my toes.
I’m not going to lie; I felt a bit sick afterwards. Once it faded though, the impact of what I’d just done finally hit me. Yeah, skydiving wasn’t what I expected and the feeling wasn’t what I’d hoped for. But I’d still jumped from an airplane 14,000 feet off of the ground and loved that I could say I’d done something that crazy. For me, skydiving is just the beginning though. My adventure made me realize there are so many amazing things out there to do, and although I have plenty of time to do them all, I must admit I’m more than a little anxious to do the next insane, life-risking activity.