On jumping out of planes


Sunday was supposed to be my last day in Hawaii. To end things with a bang, 5 of us decided to go skydiving in the morning. We got up bright and early and headed to the North Shore to go to Kenny’s skydiving company of choice.

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Filling out of the paperwork reminded us that you shouldn’t fly soon after scuba diving. Because Kenny and Brian had just done two deep dives about 12 hours before, they ended up opting out of diving.

When you dive there are limits to how long you can be underwater before your body requires recompression on the way back up. Essentially, when you ascend from high pressure underwater back to atmospheric pressure, it’s possible for the air you breathed underwater to come out of solution and form bubbles. If you come up too quickly from a deep dive or fly too soon after, it’s possible to suffer from decompression sickness which can be pretty brutal. And there’s really no fixing it, short of spending some time in a hyperbaric chamber.

Usually the wait time between diving and flying is something like 12 to 18 hours, but the skydiving flight would have been unpressurized up to 14,000 ft so it required a little longer wait time. (Commercial planes are pressurized to feel like you’re at ~8,000 ft, even when you’re at 35,000 ft.)

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Long story short, our skydiving trip turned into girl time. We all opted to get photos taken during the dive and were paired with tandem skydive masters who suited us up in some harnesses. We waited around a bit for our plane to arrive and then we were headed up into the air.

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The ride was surprisingly long. We got some good views of the island as we went, though, and could even see Maui and Lanikai. It was a spectacular day for being up in the air. Finally we reached 14,000 ft and the door opened. I was fourth out the door, behind my two friends and a 94 year old man. By that point I was strapped pretty tightly to my skydive master, Manny, so we scooted over to the door. With barely any hesitation we leapt out and went into freefall.

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The fall was really incredible. The scenery was beautiful below and there was about a minute to take it all in. The air was chilly, but it warmed up rapidly as we fell. We were spinning around a bit and getting some pictures as we went down. In all, the fall was much less scary than I imagined.

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A few thousand feet above the ground Manny deployed the parachute and we quickly slowed down. At that point it was a lot quieter and warmer so Manny and I were able to chat for a bit. We floated down for another couple of minutes and enjoyed the amazing view.

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As we came over the airstrip, Manny briefed me on how we would do the landing. We were to land on a patch of grass at the end of the runway. We swooped in over the grass with some flair and then pretty soon were on the ground. The landing was a lot smoother than I expected; Manny took a few steps on the ground to slow us down and then he told me to stand up which pretty much stopped us altogether. Apparently he knows what he’s doing.

Kenny and Brian were waiting by the fence for us as we came down. They got some photos of our parachutes coming down for a landing which were cool to see. All 3 of us were really happy with the jump and had a great time. Definitely not the cheapest hobby, but it was well worth the price for a jump over Oahu on what Kenny called the best day for skydiving he’d seen yet. Even the 94 year old enjoyed himself, despite a bit of a rough landing resulting in some scraped elbows. Highly recommended for people of all ages, especially you the opportunity to skydive in a beautiful place.

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11 thoughts on “On jumping out of planes

      • HI GAIL: Only once! In army boot camp after I was recycled into the 101st Airborne. Training consisted of two days dropping from towers -think they were about 100/150 feet high. Also tumbling training to use after we landed! Did it once, no need to do it again! Incidentally, we gave Kate one of those cameras last Christmas.
        Tom

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      • I figured you must have at some point. I would definitely go again though!

        Great gift idea. Brian got his for graduation last year and loves it. It comes with us on all our adventures.

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  1. Oh yikes! Oh yikes! Good for you, Gail. Good for you! (Although this is yet another adventure best learned about afterwards.) The pictures are absolutely spectacular. What an experience!

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    • Thanks! Probably good that I didn’t tell you before I went. After dad read this he had a less-than-cheerful anecdote to share.

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  2. In two days, I’ve climbed the Stairway to Heaven and skydived all from the comfort of my chair! Thanks, Gail–incredible pictures and you tell the story well. But…if I was saying i wanted to SKYDIVE on my last day, I would choose a different phrase than “end with a bang.” (Glad you landed with a whisper!)

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  3. Pingback: Looking Back on 2013 | I'm Not Yet Dead

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