Why would anyone skydive out of a perfectly good plane? Sometimes you need a jolt to remember you are alive. Live in the moment, take a risk. Skydiving is the ultimate adrenaline rush.
Early Saturday morning, I zoom across the stark, barren Perris Valley roads. My heart is racing a little as I spot the cylindrical wind tunnel next to Skydive Perris facility.
At the skydiving center, I watch a tape of an attorney saying that if I die due to the fault of one of their employees then I am out of luck. They film me as I verbally agree to the waiver.
While waiting for the plane, I spot a blue dragonfly hovering in the distance. How must it feel to float and fly all day? I can hardly wait.
The dual-propeller plane spins around and stops in front of the waiting area. The group of skydivers piles into the plane where we are crammed like sardines. And like that, we are up in the air, and the features on the ground begin to look like a green and yellow smudge. As I look around the plane, all I see are ridiculously huge grins (mine included). It takes the plane 20 minutes to reach the ultimate elevation and the whole way up we are giving each other fist pounds. I take a quick look at the altimeter on my wrist, and we have reached the proper altitude – 12,500 feet above sea level! In quick succession, all of the solo skydivers skydive off the plane.
I am the first novice to skydive, with my instructor strapped to my back. I fold my arms, drop my right knee, look out the door at the terrifying ground far below (did I mention that I have a mild fear of heights), and listen to the ferocious gusts of wind. As instructed, I arch my back and fling all my limbs backwards.
Serious sensory overload immediately settles in. Oh #&$%! I am free falling in the middle of the sky. There is absolutely nothing supporting me from the sides, above, or below. We keep gaining tremendous amounts of speed. My ears start popping. I think to myself, “How long have I been up here?” My brain is unable to process everything that is going on. And then I start shouting at the top of my lungs “This is f*%*&^$ incredible! Awwweesommme! Woo-hoooo! Yeah!! Hell yeahhhh!!!”
I remember to twirl my finger – the signal for the instructor to spin us. And around and around we go – the revolutions become more and more out of control. I have no idea what axis I am spinning about. Although I don’t usually get dizzy, I can’t decide whether I want to keep spinning or whether the spinning feels completely insane. I have no idea of how much time has passed – this probably has all transpired in a matter of seconds. With head tilted high, I can see the entire valley floor and Lake Elsinore in the distance. I really feel as if I am soaring through the air like a bird.
The instructor tells me to pull the chute since we have reached terminal velocity (120 mph) at 5,000 feet. For some reason, I forget what to do for a split second, but soon I get with the program and pull the orange golf ball to release the chute. We immediately slow down. I am told that if I want to spin then I should pull down on one of the loops above. I pull the loop on the left toward my chest and we start spinning, and then I pull the loop on the right and we start spinning in the opposite direction.
After we stop spinning, I feel like I am suspended in some invisible substance. I cannot tell whether I am moving or not. What a rush, I am not sure that there are words that can accurately describe what I am feeling and thinking.
Before I touch down, I see a plane land about 600 feet below my two dangling feet.
Knees bent, legs up, and a nice soft landing. This is a “one-step” landing, which means that we only had to take one step to get to the ground support crew.
High fives all around!
As I remove my jumpsuit, I see about 30 skydivers swirling in the sky above. It is an amazing sight of colorful bouncing dots.
My adrenaline is still sky high. I feel as if I can accomplish anything right now. Nothing can stop me!
Take the CA-60 and head east for 28.9 miles. At Riverside, merge onto the 215 S and drive for 12 miles to Perris. Take exit 17 for CA-74 W toward 4th St. Turn right onto CA-74 W/Redlands Ave. Continue straight onto S Redlands Ave. Turn right onto E 7th St. Make a left onto S G St. Turn right onto Case Rd. Turn left onto Goetz Rd. Make a left onto Mapes Rd and park in the Skydive Perris parking lot.