Driving south on the 805 to a destination somewhere near Tijuana did little to bolster any confidence I had about jumping out of an airplane for the first time.
It’s fairly routine and equally predictable for people to mention the definition of mental deficiency as jumping out of a perfectly good airplane when no immediate danger has presented itself. But since I was just a young little smoosh, I’ve always wanted to skydive.
My ninja-sneaky girlfriend with her penchant for clairvoyantly perfect gifts surprised me with the offer to jump out of an airplane with her. Who says no to that?
The caffeinated jolt of enthusiasm I felt that fateful morning had hobbled to a slow drip when my eyes first saw the dry, desolate desperation that is Brown Field. It is aptly named, as it is literally a big brown field. My qualms about jumping weren’t alleviated when I pulled up to Pacific Coast Skydiving either.
Their base of operations can best be described as half of a dilapidated hanger that looks like something a fraternity house would vomit out. Also not helping: a poster of a group of skydivers linked in a circle with a tag line saying, “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”
As I sat on a grungy orange couch watching “Dumb and Dumber” (hint?) on a shiny new flat-screen TV mounted on the wall of the hanger, I watched the pilot of the tiny airplane I was about to jump out of struggle to repack a parachute. To my now-in-need-of-a-diaper horror, the strings keeping the chute closed kept breaking off in his hands.
Now a normal person at this point would have laid a vapor trail getting out of there. But I was resolute in wanting to jump. Besides we already paid and there were no refunds. Yeah, so maybe it’s because I’m more cheap than afraid of dying.
As I was preparing myself mentally, Andy, the owner of Pacific Coast Skydiving, helped me into my junk-crushing parachute harness. This is the point in the day when I realized they will not be providing me with a snazzy jumpsuit for my death-defying adventure: I’m jumping in jeans, a polo shirt, and a pair of fairly loosefitting white Adidas. For some reason, my only concern was losing my $30 pair of shoes.
All the goofy video being shot by Andy aside, getting into the small little airplane and watching the runway turn into a wispy thinning black line made me realize there was only one way out of that airplane. To Andy’s credit, he made me feel relaxed and (fairly) safe. I asked him if he’s ever had anyone chicken out in the airplane, and he said after 6,000 jumps, he’s never had anyone change their mind because “No!” sounds a lot like “Go!” when you’re in a loud environment. Well done, I’ve pooped myself at this point.
To me the scariest part wasn’t even the jump, it was dangling my legs over the edge of the airplane and thinking I still might harbor a teensy fear of heights and an immediate realization that I really hope the guy stuck to my back doesn’t have some cardiac episode or I’m going to turn into a dirt torpedo.
After my 40-second free fall, and the subsequent drift back to terra firma, the only thought going through my mind was why I haven’t done this before, and when can I do it again? Adrenaline rush doesn’t even begin to describe a 120 mph race to earth with only silk and string to slow the descent.
In a word — go. Jump out of an airplane simply because you can. It will change how you perceive the world around you.
Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s just a guy in white Adidas and jeans jumping out of an airplane again.
Filed Under: Doorman Diaries