The only bad part about my first jump is that it was all caught on tape. I remember at one point during the fall, I set us off balance and we began to spiral out of control. This overreaction on my part is now immortalized on DVDs in the homes of every family member.
I’ve found that most people can’t describe what it is about skydiving that makes them come back, and it seems fairly true. The majority of certified skydivers I’ve spoken to say they never intended to jump more than once, but there’s just something about the dive that is irresistible to many.
After I moved to college, I started jumping as often as I could, but it wasn’t money that prevented me from going. It was the weather. What most people don’t know is that while a tandem jump is easier because you don’t have to do anything, a solo jump is cheaper—almost $100 cheaper and the price continues to drop as you work your way through the certification process.
Just as there is a training process when you first jump tandem, there’s also a training process for your first solo jump. Only instead of a brief video explaining how to arch your back, solo jumpers are required to take a full eight-hour class.
My skydiving instructor, Bob, taught our small class of five the ins and outs of skydiving. He explained each part of the parachute in detail, as well as how to position yourself on the plane before and during the jump, how to land, and what to do if anything goes wrong. We learned about wind speed, altimeters, and even how the plane worked. It’s a lot of information to process, but no less than what you’re expected to know in order to receive a driver’s license.
Fortunately, first-time solo divers still have a safety net in the form of a static line. The static line attaches directly to your parachute so that when you jump, you don’t have to worry about opening it yourself (which was one of my big fears).
The ride up is also different than a tandem jump. First of all, there’s no conversation between you and the guy you’re strapped to, such as, “Don’t worry, I’ll get you out of this plane whether you want to or not.” Actually, there’s not much talk at all. Most of the first-timers are too scared to actually speak, as was my case.