|Skydiving can be an experience you'll cherish for the rest of you life, and there are a few different ways to experience it.
Tandem: A tandem jump gives a taste of freefall without a huge investment of time and money. Basically, an experienced jumper is strapped to your back during the whole process. He or she will stabilize the jump during freefall, pull the chute at the correct time, guide the jump to the landing area and facilitate the landing. All an inexperienced skydiver needs to do is enjoy the ride.
There is usually a weight limit for tandem jumps, so check with the company before you make your reservation. An individual weight limit of 230 pounds is normal, and there is an occasional fee for those over 210 pounds. Lose a few pounds if you have to; you'll be happy you did.
Training is minimal, usually just 15 to 30 minutes. In most cases, gravity and your tandem partner will do all the work for you.
Static line: If you don't want to trust your first jump to someone else (or don't want to be strapped to him or her), a static line is a good way to sample skydiving on your own. It'll take a bit more training, and you won't experience freefall, but some prefer it this way. With the static line method, a mechanism triggers the chute as you exit the plane. All you have to do is enjoy the ride and land. Some companies don't offer static line jumps, so call ahead to check on this option.
Accelerated Freefall (AFF): If you have the money and are pretty sure you're into this skydiving thing, Accelerated Freefall allows jumpers to freefall without being strapped to someone. In AFF, two experienced jumpers hold onto the inexperienced skydiver, guiding through the freefall and staying close throughout the jump. AFF requires a good chunk of training, so plan on spending a whole day. AFF starts the certification process for skydivers; it's recommended that you try tandem-jumping first.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning a skydive:
- Make reservations and always call the skydiving company before you head out to the drop zone.
- In most cases, you have to be at least 18 years old to skydive.
- Wear comfortable clothes.
- Wear comfortable sneakers (obviously, heels aren't going to cut it).
- Purchase a video of your first jump; the memories are worth the $75 price.
Where to go:
Skydive San Diego (formerly Parachutes Over San Diego)
13531 Otay Lakes Road, Jamul, Calif. 91935
Skydive Lake Elsinore
20701 Cereal St., Lake Elsinore, Calif. 92530