Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Diving in Air

When I learned to scuba dive I did not know how to swim; when I went skydiving I was afraid of heights (I still am sometimes). I like to overcome my fears, so I went on a strong tandem dive (I pulled the parachute) in Perris at the famous Perris Valley Skydive Center. I jumped from over 12,500 feet out of the plane used in the movie "Point Break". Talk about overcoming a fear in one giant leap!

They give you a training course, set you up with rigging, and make you sign so many waivers you wonder if it is really worth your life to experience a skydive.

It is.

Going up in the plane was the scariest part because of the steep ascent; the pilot warned that if you chicken out of your jump and stay in the plane, the descent is worse than the ascent and everyone decided it was preferable to jump. Jumping out into the cool wind was like jumping into a pool of cool water, with the same physical effect. I never felt like I was falling, just gliding into the sky. The views of three cities were incredible; it looked like we were jumping into postcard pictures. I was so happy and calm after I jumped that the tandem instructor purposely tried to fake a stalling parachute to get a reaction out of me other than "Cool!" (it didn't work). It was so much fun that as soon as I landed I wanted to go back up and do it again. They offer a school with several levels here, so if you become addicted to the sport, you can indulge your addiction here.

Skydiving is like scuba diving; the physical sensations are very similar and the motions and movements are almost identical (you make a turn in the air the same way you make a turn underwater). Both sports free you from the usual sensations of gravity and both allow you to feel and see like another species; it's the closest thing to being a bird (or a fish) for a few minutes.

They also have a wind tunnel for beginners who don't want to jump out of a plane to get a similar experience. Their wind tunnel was featured in the movie "The Bucket List". Some people actually prefer indoor wind tunnels because they can stay in the air longer and practice turns, flips and tricks. I Fly in Hollywood also has a wind tunnel experience closer to Los Angeles. It's fun to watch the experts as they practice their tricks and formations in the wind tunnel and in the air at Perris, so if you don't want to jump, you'll still get to see a show.

No matter how you do it, try it; you may like it, whether your name is Mikey or not.

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