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Welcome My name is Tess. I'm a 9-5 New Yorker and traveler. My hobbies include destroying suitcases, photo-bombing tourists in Times Square, and taking long romantic ADHD walks around the globe. Welcome!

Jan 5, 2011

Diving Through the Friendly Skies

And I'm free...free fallingggg
"Why would anyone in their right mind want to jump out of a perfectly good plane?" These were the sentiments of my best friend's husband Richard.

Statistically 1 out of every 20,000 jumpers suffers fatal injury so although the chances of  returning unscathed are risky; as NYers surviving in the concrete jungle - we scoffed in the face of death. 
 So me and 3 friends signed up to jump 14,000 feet, free falling to uncertainty Tandem Skydiving.

 "I was in the airborne division of the military before this," says Range who has accomplished over 21,000 jumps and completes dozens more as a Tandem Diving instructor in Pennsylvania.  When we arrive the mostly outdoor facility is crawling with people in queue as well as cowardly spectators. In a small dark room, we watch a short video wherein the narrator stresses a clear message of, “I hope you fully understand the risk with death you are taking."  Got it!

 After signing our lives away on the six page liability release which states in case you lose a limb or become a pulverized heap of blood and bones - you cannot sue us, we then undergo a brief instructional in the airplane hanger.
 The 10 minute briefing covers the basics; body positioning, parachute deployment, safety and landing procedures finished off by executing a mini mock jump in full gear at a staggering two feet from the ground?

Our group is called and we head toward the plane,I get chummy with the guy who will strap me to his loins and take me sailing through the skyThe plane is just large enough to hold the 7 jumpers 7 pros and 1 camera man. All the tandem jumpers are first timers. “It’s just something that I’ve always wanted to do,” says one jumper. 

Within minutes we have elevated to 13,000 feet. Moments before deploying, the pros fasten us into their harnesses. I was horrified! From a sitting position on a plane so small, Range had buckled and bound me to his body. 

But how could he know after a couple of yanks on the gear  that I was secure? The camera man begins snapping shots with his teeth by way of a tube running from the camera on his helmet to his mouth. He will be filming divers while he is also free falling. Instructors remind you that you will be signaled to check your wrist-meter when you've plummeted 5000 feet from ground level and to deploy the parachute. 

One at a time we scoot to the edge of the open door and I am first in line. Rocking at the edge of the plane's open door seeing a view I've only seen while in flight I begin to panic. Did I really pay someone to throw me from a friggin plane!

 It's at that point,staring over the edge, that you realize what is about to happen and that it's simply too late to change your mind.

Arms folded chin up over the edge and away we go!

Darla takes flight

The first surge of adrenaline tears through you seizing your limbs. You extend arms and legs, the wind whips around your body as you’re plummeting face down at 120mph thrusting through clouds and picking up speed.
Short of breath you panic and gasp for air breathing deeply through your mouth to alleviate the intensity of the impact, this part known as the “Freefall” lasts for sixty seconds or eight thousand feet.  At 5000 feet the instructor grabs your wristwatch signaling you pull the cord to deply your chute. Instantly, you begin to coast through the air overlooking the surrounding landscape - the views are breathtaking.  

“I felt really blessed to experience God’s creation that far up, the air was so still,” said Darla Price of N.Y
Toggles allow you to maneuver the parachute spinning and changing direction as you sail through the sky and descend to the ground.  You feel like a bird in flight. The adrenaline rushes over you again the feeling is surreal.

Me and Range free falling in Philly

“I said out loud …This is so peaceful,” says Andrea Young of N.J recalling her experience.

The landing is usually smooth with the instructor planting his feet first then you afterwards finally walking out to a complete stop; the entire dive lasts around 5 minutes. With all of us safely on the ground. The four of us - Dev, Darla, Andrea & I walk accross the lawn like a scene out of Top Gun. People are astounded. Not because we are so dashingly breath-taking but becasue we are the only 4 black girls in the place.

 "Wow you girls look great," says a spektator. We recieve indulge a few folks in some photo-ops, slapped some hi-fives and kissed a baby? We were a hit!

Back in the hanger were the results of some not so smooth landings with one diver having completely bloodied thighs. word of advice: don't skydive in daisy duke shorts!  Tandem Skydives cost around $195 and up and first time divers can eventually become licensed pros through progression training programs or integrated student programs. Each experience is unique to the diver but Skydiving is without a doubt a sport for the extremely adventurous!

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