Around the world in 30 days: Skydiving in the USA
Who would want to jump off a perfectly functioning plane?
Who would want to jump off a perfectly functioning plane and why?
Well actually I did. A few years ago a friend of mine was going to the US to skydive in Florida. Since I had already done one tanden skydive in Australia and that was pretty wild, I decided that it would be fun to do it on my own rather than strapped to an instructor. Ya I can see you are all thinking I am a bit crazy. Maybe you are right, maybe you too would like to do something this exciting at least once in this lifetime.
So we booked our flights from Paris, France to Orlando and off we went.
We were given a lot of training on the ground and had to simulate all our movements by lying on a stool with arms and legs in the air. It seemed relatively easy on the stool.
Finally it was time to go up to 10000 feet and then with two instructors each hanging on to one of my arms I jumped off. The scariest part was when the person in front jumps off and you see how he is sucked down by gravity, but by that time it was too late to change your mind. One incredible thing I have experienced every time I have skydived is that once you jump you never have the feeling of falling but really of floating with a very noisy wind gushing past. Of course, if you are relaxed enough (well that is debatable) to look at the view below, it will be the first time you can really see the curvature of our beautiful planet. However, it is important to note that this free fall only lasts around 45 seconds. Before you know it your instructors are reminding you by sign language to open your parachute.
Of course, you do not land with your two instructors so at an altitude of 3500 feet you pull the toggle on your back that opens your parachute. If you do not do it because you cannot find it, one of the instructions will do it for you before they move away from you as your parachute opens.
Then comes the best moment of the whole experience for me. I saw my two instructors still under the influence of gravity heading towards earth in free fall, but all around me everything was relatively quiet and I was gliding effortless in thin air. I looked around and a strong sensation of happiness overcame me. Once I had taken all this in, I heard somebody calling my name on the radio attached to me. It was a one-way radio, so I couldn't talk back. But I was asked to do a large right turn followed by a left turn to indicate to the instructor who was going to walk me through the landing that I was fully aware and could hear him.
It was time to start spotting some landmarks that would help me land on the right spot, avoiding any electric pylons, buildings and trees.
It was all over too soon.
I did 5 skydives and for the sixth skydive I was going to have to jump by myself as now I only had one instructor jumping with me. This was when I decided that I had saved my life 5 times by opening the parachute and maybe that was as far as I was willing to go. It is worth mentioning here that in theory, the parachute would open automatically at 2000 feet by detecting the change in atmospheric pressure at that altitude if the student failed to open the parachute.
It is difficult to explain everything that happened to me in terms of things going through my head as well as emotions of fear mixed with incredible pleasure with a lot of adrenaline involved. I am really glad I tried skydiving and it was a great experience, but I also realised that everytime I jumped I was taking a huge risk!
If you want the thrill but too scared to do it on your own then book on a tandem with an instructor. You don’t have to do much, just relax if you can and enjoy the freefall.
I would say this is the one thing you have to do before you die and highly recommend Skydive Sebastian in Florida. There are also several skydive schools and clubs all over USA, Europe and Australia.
- Skydive over the Florida Coastline at Skydive Sebastian
Skydiving over the Florida Coastline at Skydive Sebastian! Whether you are interested in your first Tandem Skydive in Florida, you're an adventurer ready to choose a skydiving school for your skydiving instruction (AFF - Accelerated Freefall Course)
The drop zone is located in the City of Sebastian on the beautiful east coast of Florida, USA.
San Sebastian skydive school is a convenient drive for Orlando skydivers, Palm Beach skydivers and South Florida skydivers from Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. Go north or south, as the case may be, and take Exit 156 on I - 95, (Sebastian - Fellsmere Road Exit). Once you are on I - 95, you'll make "3 turns" to arrive at Skydive Sebastian!
The weather is great most of the year so you can skydive any time of year
The instructors are great and good fun
There is always some party going on after skydiving.
- The terminal velocity of a skydiver is about 124 mph (200 kph)
- Most tandem and students time of freefall is between 45 seconds to one minute
- The more compact and dense the object, the higher its terminal velocity will be. Typical examples are the following: raindrop, 25 ft/s, human being, 250 ft/s
- On 16 August 1960, US Air Force Captain Joseph Kittinger entered the record books when he stepped from the gondola of a helium balloon floating at an altitude of 31,330 m (102,800 feet) and took the longest skydive in history (see video link).
These are interesting and useful books for anyone who would like to take skydiving a bit further than reading my hub pages and watching the videos!
Free fall video for Kittinger's record free fall
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