Go Big or Go Home…

I think it only appropriate that this blog follow the previous on scuba diving given the topic.

If scuba is something you’re interested in and have done then why not take it up a notch?

And you don’t have to be an adrenaline junkie to try my next endeavor…

I’m talking about skydiving!

I wouldn’t exactly call myself an adrenaline junkie, but I do like the thrill of roller coasters and other rides, scuba diving and anything where I can do a risk vs. rewards analysis and in relative safety enjoy some thrills and excitement. In the short-term I’ve been scuba diving I’ve observed the same group of people engage in similar activities. As a matter of fact, a dive buddy I dove Epcot DiveQuest went skydiving for his birthday and many people who scuba dive have logged hundreds of skydive jumps. So why not look into it further?

Clearly skydiving is likely more scary and outside of your comfort zone, but let me just tell you that it is worth it if you get to the point of pulling the trigger.

I decided to visit a couple of the local skydive websites then visited several of them as well. I asked them many questions, asked them to show me the tandem harnesses and watched many tandem divers do their first-time jumps. I saw fathers and sons, couples and friends and talked to them after… not one of them said they didn’t regret doing it.

If you’re like me you’re going to jump on the Internet and start researching, reading forums, looking at statistics, etc. Tandem jumping is actually statistically safer than diving solo along with countless other activities we all engage in daily. The harnesses have straps on both the front and back to insure you won’t fall our and you’re locked in the harness by four points each of which can hold 250 pounds and statistics of all four breaking at the same time… almost impossible.

After researching several dropzones and committing to do a tandem dive, it occurred to me that I would more than likely only do one skydive my entire life. So I wanted to make my “first” skydive memorable. And if I’m going to skydive I want to “go big or go home,” which coincidentally is Skydive Space Center’s motto. You only get to do your first skydive once and they are the only place you can dive off the east coast, over the space center and with the highest tandem skydive in the world at 18,000 feet.

With a commitment (but much trepidation to be expected the day of) I decided to take it step by step i.e. make the reservation, drive to the dropzone, complete my paperwork, get fitted for my harness, etc. It’s much easier to manage in small steps than get overwhelmed about jumping out of a perfectly good airplane lol.

So I booked the 18,000-foot dive with pictures, raw footage and the finished edited video. This included a separate photographer jumping, flying around and recording video of my jump as well as video taken by a wrist camera on my tandem diver i.e. the works!  And as crazy as it sounds I wanted the highest dive at 18,000 feet so I could spend as much time as possible freefalling to the earth at 120mph so I could really sponge up the moment.  And to put things in perspective 18,000 feet is just under 3.5 miles high or the height if 60 football fields or six times the world’s tallest building, the Dubai’s iconic Burj Khalifa at 3,044 feet.  So it’s high lol…

Kristal was of tremendous help in making my reservation, answering my questions, email confirmations, etc. Upon arrival, Becka assisted me with my paperwork and attended to me as if she were my own personal tour guide – I enjoyed talking to her. The entire staff was great!

My tandem instructor was Uwe and my videographer was Maksim – both really cool guys. They had a printout of my video requests and information and assured me they could accommodate everything no problem. Uwe then fitted me with my harness, gave very clear instructions on what to do, when to do it and made me feel at ease and excited at the same time. I was more worried about peeing my pants (for the record I didn’t) than anything else happening. Uwe did say that everyone is nervous and most people jump, but we will not make you jump if you’re completely deadest against it or completely losing it and screaming bloody murder. He didn’t say those exact works, but you get the point.

On the way up I talked a lot because I was both nervous and excited and Uwe just said you’re going to be fine, enjoy the view and I got you. How could I not enjoy the view I was right beside the door! I was the second jumper; the first was a solo jumper. And there were maybe 8-10 people behind me so I knew I had to set the pace, show no fear, lead by example and jump when ready. So I did and we jumped with no hesitation.

Although words can not even remotely describe the feeling and sensation of sky diving I’ll try… amazing, exhilarating, scary, fun, enlightening, life-changing, euphoric, slow-motion, surreal, sensory overload, disbelief, shock and the experience of a lifetime.  Honestly, it will change your perspective on everything i.e. how you approach things, appreciating and enjoying the simple things in life including relationships.  And if if you didn’t pass out, throw up or wet your pants… you’ll be thankful for that as well lol.

My free-fall time lasted about one minute and twenty seconds and you really do need a longer free-fall time because the first 20-30 seconds it’s sensory overload then you really start to take it all on in i.e. the sounds, the sights, interaction with your tandem diver and the photographer, etc. Frankly, anyone who is considering skydiving I would recommend the highest jump and getting a picture/video package. You’ll want to commemorate the event and share the fun with your friends and family who would never jump out of a perfectly good airplane. Then check it off of your bucket list!

And although you can never fully prepare yourself for skydiving, you do as much as you can then just do it. You won’t regret it. I absolutely plan on doing it again… and regularly… and would only do so at Skydive Space Center.

Here’s a link to the finished, edited video though I think the raw footage is much better: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWN3llWIlwA&t=272s

In continuing with the adventurous and adrenaline seeking (though in a calculated manner) theme my next blog will also be on an activity I find many scuba divers and skydivers engaging in together. And here’s a hint… you see these everywhere and many who engage in this activity wear leather and have a nickname.

Cory Prado

Uwe, Maksim and I up close and personal… three guys just hamming it up!

Cory Prado

Just landed…

Cory Prado

Literally just jumped from the plane…

Cory Prado

Goofing off… not sure how high we are… high!

Cory Prado

Maksim’s view of Uwe and I with the Atlantic ocean in the background.

Cory Prado

Pic from Maksim… the chute is opening and with a little tug – that feeling was fantastic!

Cory Prado

You have to hug it out sharing a moment like that… bromance! Uwe was AWESOME!!!

Cory Prado

Overwhelmed… relieved… excited… with my feet back on Mother Earth.

Cory Prado

Uwe let me steer the chute… we did some heavy spins pulling a lot of g-force. As you can see I’m loving it!

Cory Prado

Harnessed and waiting for the second plane to go up doing a pre-dive interview with Maksim!

Cory Prado

All smiles here… loving it!

Cory Prado

The view from my seat on the plane…

Cory Prado

What you don’t see is the prayer Maksim likes to do before every jump. He asked if I wanted to pray with him and I said sure as I do quite regularly… didn’t know if I should be concerned or not lol.

Cory Prado

One of my favorite pictures…

 


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