This weekend held a mind-blowing amount of Awesome. No only was I able to fight over 50 rapier matches on Saturday afternoon (I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before but one of my major hobbies is medieval reenactment, specifically rapier fighting–think Three Musketeers) but the awesomeness of Saturday afternoon was trampled by the awesomeness of Professional Wrestling Guerrilla’s Tag Team Match Up Saturday night (if you haven’t already read my post on the ultimate coolness of underground pro-wrestling click here) and the awesomeness of Saturday night was blown sky high (hahaha) by jumping out of a plane on Sunday. Wow. Just wow.
Activity: Tandem Skydiving at Perris Airfield
Where did I find it: Our friend Steve Lawdis has been elbowing for us to go skydiving for quite a while. He has his skydiving certs and highly recommends Perris Skydiving ‘resort’ as the place to go. Walking in it definitely doesn’t look like a resort: a couple of bungalows and shade structures strung out around a single runway, but with a pool, a cafe, a wind tunnel, and a full skydiving school with two planes rotating every ten minutes, I have to agree that Perris is probably one of the best places to skydive in Southern California. You can check out their website here.
Cost: A tandem skydive is $189 per person but I highly recommend getting the “Sensory Overload” package. You get a tandem skydive and two flights in the wind tunnel for $234. In addition you get $35 off any video package (a must if you are going for your first time!). The basic video is $70 without the discount. This all sounds a little pricey, but trust me those 60 seconds of free fall are worth every cent.
You will probably enjoy skydiving if you geek out about: Adrenaline rushes, snowboarding, bucket lists, roller-coasters. But honestly, I recommend that everyone does this at least once. There is really nothing like it.
Why its AWESOME: We had been wind tunneled and taught the correct hand signals. We had been suited up in blue jump suits and industrial looking harnesses. We had signed mountains of legal paperwork, been subjected to a video of a bushy bearded lawyer reminding us that we could not sue Perris airfield and even had to read our paper release to a camera with our name and the date. We had been introduced to our instructor who had strapped a pink altimeter to our arm and pointed out the significant points on the dial. At 12,000 feet we would exit the plane. At 5,000 feet we would pull the parachute, at 0 feet we would be back on the ground. All in about 5 minutes. Now we were waiting for the little blue plane with about twenty other skydivers. A tall man in a black jumpsuit next to me asked if I had ever been skydiving before. I said no, my husband and I were going for our first anniversary. “You’ll love it.” he said, “It’s like–” he thought for a moment, staring off into the distance. “It’s like– well, there isn’t really any way to describe it. Skydiving is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.” And he was right. It wasn’t.
Michael first suggested we go skydiving for out anniversary about a month ago and I was immediately on board. After all, we don’t have any kids yet and what better way to celebrate a year together than crossing something off both of our bucket lists. One thing you can never say is that I married a boring man. Have I mentioned before how much I love my husband?
On Sunday, I have to admit I wasn’t really nervous. I’ve never been particularly afraid of heights and somehow in my mind it is far more reassuring to jump from 12,000 feet than 12 feet. Plus, since we were going tandem I felt comforted that the instructors a) knew what they were doing and b) cared just as much as I did that we both landed safely on the ground. Going in the wind tunnel first also helped a great deal. It got me used to the loud rushing of the wind and in the two one minute sessions I actually figured out that I was pretty good at maneuvering my body to go up or down in the tunnel. To go lower (fall faster) you had to make yourself lower by arching your back and lifting your chin. To go higher (fall slower) you had to straighten your back and lower your chin. Michael and I had fun watching the professional skydivers in the tunnel before us learning more complicated maneuvers, playing follow the leader and trying to throw each other off balance by shoving each other and waving a hand under different parts of the diver’s body to block the air current.
It was only when we boarded the plane that, against my own positive thoughts, my body started to react. My mouth got dry, my palms began to sweat, and my heart began to pound. Part of it may have been the fact that the plane we were in was tiny, 20 skydivers sitting knee to knee as the plan bumped and tossed around on air currents. I was very glad I had a parachute. Michael and I watched out the window as the ground grew smaller and smaller beneath us. The houses were tiny dots below us. We looked at our altimeter. Only 5,000 feet up. Another 7,000 feet to go. At 10,000 feet we strapped onto our instructor and the plan began jolting as it slowed down. The door on the back of the plan opened and the experienced divers at the back of the plane began falling out. I was last. Finally Michael and his instructor disappeared out the door and I could feel the cool rush of the wind on my face. I closed my eyes as the instructor pushed me out the door. And I was falling.
I have never experienced anything like the sensation of free-falling. The wind was rushing past me harder than I had ever felt it before. The ground was spread out below me like I had never seen it before. The instructor turned me and I could see the marine layer and the hills on the California coastal islands in the distance. Everything looked so clear and vivid, it burned a picture into my mind that I can still see when I close my eyes. What really struck me though was the sensation of falling. I knew I was falling, I felt like I was falling, but not in the stomach jolting way you feel when going down a steep water slide or a roller coaster. It was something more mental than physical–the feeling of constantly falling and the awareness of how small your tiny body is compared to the massiveness of the earth you are falling towards. Its truly awe inspiring. They say most people scream but for some reason I started laughing like a madman at the sheer awesome fact that I was 10,000 feet above the ground with nothing but air below me.
Then the instructor helped me pull the parachute and I was jerked upwards as we slowed our decent. Then my stomach jolted and the rest of the ride felt more like a roller coaster as we glided to the ground. Because the breeze was at the right angle the instructor had me do a standing landing and there was barely a jolt as my feet thunked on solid ground. Michael came down a few seconds after I did and we started giggling madly.
Human beings are funny creatures in their quest for new sensations but I have to say that this one is one that you shouldn’t miss. If you’re looking for a new perspective on life, skydiving will revolutionize your point of view in 60 seconds guaranteed. Before and after I went I’ve had a lot of people say how dangerous skydiving is and ask me why Michael and I wanted to kill ourselves for our anniversary. In answer to everyone’s question, I would classify skydiving as a potentially deadly but not inherently dangerous sport. In 2011 there were 30 million skydiving parachute openings worldwide. And only 56 deaths, 25 of which were in North America. The majority of those deaths were expert skydivers, with one tandem incident in Nevada October of last year. At Perris all parachutes are packed by certified parachute packers and all gear is inspected before and after every flight. Can you say the same about your car every morning?
Would I do it again? Absolutely, but I think even if I don’t wind up jumping again skydiving is going to go in my book as one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences of my life. Thank you Michael for a truly wonderful anniversary.
I’ve posted my video below, enjoy!