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Tandem Skydiving at Skydive Perris
by
Shuming Zhang and Nick Anis

 

So, you want to go skydiving. Well, so did I. I was a little apprehensive, so I did my homework. I was surprised how much people who try skydiving for the first time love it, and I was even more surprised at how amazing my experience was as a first-time skydiver making a tandem jump. After doing some research I discovered one of the largest skydiving centers in the world, was in Perris, California not too far from me. At Skydive Perris they have indoor skydiving for training beginners and experienced skydivers; they have experienced skydivers, military skydivers, even film and television productions, and world-wide competitions.

 

I was wondering where would I fit in all this. But I quickly found that this is a family owned and operated business for more than 40 years and all the skydivers who come there – beginners like me, regulars, experts, military training, are all treated like family.

 

Everyone at Skydive Parris is made to feel at home regardless of their interests, background, or experience level. I cannot remember when I felt more welcomed. The general manager, Shazza Kindsvater, is fantastic, my videographer, Joe Miller is a warm and friendly guy, and my jump instructor, Nicolas Giraldo is very helpful, and all of them, especially my instructor, really added to the overall enjoyment of my time there.

 

This is a fascinating place; the owner came there one day and bought the entire Parris Airport, which is huge, just to turn it into the sky jumping super center it is today. What is a sky jumping super center? Well, it’s a gargantuan place with fantastic facilities, amazing people, great airplanes (even a jet!!!), perfect drop zone, and totally amazing skydives.

 

Their rather large Bombshelter Sports Bar & Grill has an impressive collection of skydiving photos, and is decorated with flags from many of the 100+ countries of their international visitors. There are lots of other places to hang out too, including outdoor shady areas, picnic tables and umbrellas. I really liked the flexible and super clear glasses, and there are helmets (optional for students, mandatory for instructors), jump suits (optional, you can wear your street rags if you want), harnesses/rigs, etc. which are all excellent. There is a swimming pool to relax and unwind, and great refreshments. Even spectators are made to feel welcome, although as one would expect, they can't go on the runway, in the plane, or drop zone.

 

This place is home to many world records including the largest formation of Women (181), the largest formation of Wingsuiters, the largest sequence of formations by women, and many more. The youngest skydiver there is 18 and the oldest known person to skydive was 101, but this 23-year-old went there on his 24th birthday to give it a try.

 

The fleet of planes, including the good old Cessna 182, SC-7 Skyvan Skydiving Aircraft, and three DeHavilland Twin Otter (the type I jumped from) are maintained by crack and FAA certified mechanics, flown by highly experienced commercial pilots, and fueled and guided by a well-trained ground crew, are really cool. They also have the only DC9 Jet in the world used for skydiving, which is used for special events involving large groups.

 

When you go, besides the tandem jump package, be sure to also get the premium video package, because this experience is definitely something you want to share with your friends, coworkers, and family, on your cell phone, computer, tablet, Facebook, or YouTube. At first, I was thinking that it’s just a short video or a few snapshots, but it turned out they made an 8-minute production with great videography taken by my instructor who was jumping with me, and my videographer who also jumped and flew beside us to get even more viewpoints. Then all this footage is edited into an impressive production with special effects, sound, and so on, where I was the star and center of attention. Also, when I checked out the USB drive, I discovered high resolution still photos that were also taken, and you can also download your video and photos later, if you wish.

 

As I drove in, I could see the huge wind tunnel they use for indoor skydiving and training, and a plane taxiing filled with skydivers. This extensive training facility is for beginners like me to highly specialized experts. Everyone I passed smiled at me and said hi. The first person I met was one of the instructors; he was busy but he wanted to walk me to the office. As I was heading there I could see skydivers floating down and landing on the drop zone, people lounging by the pool, sitting and watching their buddies jumping, and packing their chutes, checking their gear, and so on. The skydiving school office is spacious, lots of seats, ice cold drinking water, and fantastic central air conditioning. The walls are lined with video screens where you can see the current batch of videos from tandem jumpers like me. After my jump I was sitting in that office watching my video thinking not only did I have an amazing time, I have great photos and video to show my family and friends, too.

 

After I checked in and signed my wavers, I was given a briefing and taken to the equipment room; there I met my instructor and videographer. They were both really nice. As I picked out my equipment my instructor was very carefully fitting me and adjusting my harness. He also explained everything very clearly. Even though he must have done it hundreds of times before, he was very patient and not just going through the motions – he made me glad that I would be putting my life in his hands, after we jumped out of the plane together. He takes care of all the technical details for a tandem jump, there is no need to become a technical expert. But he explained to me that our parachute rigs are equipped with a main and reserve parachute, as well as an automatic activation device (AAD), that automatically deploys the reserve parachute if it detects that the skydivers are still at freefall speed below a certain altitude. FAA requires these instructors to have a master parachute license, 3+ years’ experience, and 500+ jumps, as well as class II medical training, and various other things. I wasn’t worried in the slightest, but it was nice of him to take the time to tell me about all the safety measures, and also coach me multiple times about putting my chest out, and chin up, and so on. 

 

I met another tandem jumper, Juan, from San Antonio. Juan is my age and is a very physically fit and trim “chef”; that’s sort of an oxymoron, right? And his hobby is gymnastics. Juan had tandem jumped once before and he is defiantly hooked on this sport. He was very friendly. It was nice to chat with him and I was glad he would be coming along and jumping, too. By the time we started walking to the airfield it felt like we were all long-time friends and how lucky I was to be part of all this. They took some pictures and video, my friend took some pictures, and we headed for the plane.

  

As I entered the tarmac, I felt really special not only because there was a videographer filming me and interviewing me, and it felt great to be climbing aboard the plane with all those skydivers, and to be part of the elite group.

 

Once inside the plane, I was interviewed some more. Then we took off and quickly gained altitude. As I looked at the altimeter they put on my wrist, and out the window to 12,500 feet below, I was not even scared. But I was getting more and more of an adrenaline rush.

 

When I went out the plane door in sync with our videographer it was with a rather gentle leap, graceful like a swan, it was a bit noisy with the wind rushing around me and in less than 15 seconds I reached what they call maximum or terminal velocity of 125 miles an hour. Then the drogue parachute opened to decrease our terminal velocity. This is necessary for proper parachute deployment, lengthening the duration of the skydive, and allowing my instructor and I to fall at the same speed as our videographer. My instructor let me move us around, and even spin us. I could not believe what was happening, and that I was controlling part of it. Then after being signaled by my instructor, the videographer came close to us and filmed me. My instructor also filmed me with a GoPro he had on his wrist; and I could see the other skydivers freefalling around me too. The ground was so far away I could barely see it, and actually it doesn’t feel like falling, it feels like flying. 

 

 

 

After about 110 seconds +/- we opened our main chute and I briefly experienced intense deceleration of 3 to 4 g's for a few seconds, as my decent slowed to a peaceful 17 miles an hour and I began to float to earth, which took another seven minutes.

 

During these seven minutes, after equipment checks, my instructor talked to me and filmed me; and I felt really calm; in fact, it was almost too calm, I sort of missed the free-falling flying adrenalin infused sensation I experienced earlier, but floating was fun too. Then it came time to maneuver so we could line up with the drop zone; my instructor let me control the chute some, that was interesting too. The landing zone is a grassy patch parallel with the runway we used to take off. Its not that big and it looks even smaller, when you are coming down from the heavens, but we were perfectly aligned, and we glided just right, making a perfect landing. It was as if I was laid on the ground by God’s hand. At the final moment with perfect precision my instructor stalled the chute and we stopped ever so gently. The modern 'square' also known as 'ram-air' – parachutes, used these days, are more maneuverable due to their wing-like design. Depending on the wind conditions at the time you jump, you may land with a gentle "standup" landing or like me, an equally gentle "butt-slide" landing

 

Then we got up, and after our chute was gathered up, the videographer interviewed me some more. There is a courtesy truck to drive you back, but it was such a nice day and such a perfect jump I wanted to walk back and soak up as much more of the experience as I could.

 

I realize I am young and there are many more things I can potentially do in my life, but this was an incredible experience that I will remember forever. I must say, that skydiving is highly addictive. I wanted to go up and jump again, but my friend was waiting, and besides like the “Terminator” said, “I’ll be back!”

 

Perris Skydive

2091 Goetz Road

Perris, CA 92570

 

Phone: 951-657-1664

 

http://skydiveperris.com

 

Tandem Ski Dive $159 - $179; 9:00am to 7:00pm Mon-Fru; 7:00am to 7:00pm Sat-Sun

 

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Nick Anis is a food, wine, and travel and technology writer with over 24 books in print published by McGraw-Hill, Random House, Bantam, Ziff-Davis, Tab, and others. Nick's articles have appeared in Where and What in the World, The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, West Coast Media, The Family Publications Group, The Weekly News, and Travel-Watch.  His beats include food, travel, snow and waters sports, entertainment, family recreation, consumer electronics, home improvement, and automotive.  Nick is responsible for the Restaurant Row Ethnic Dining Guide, co-published by the Long Beach Press Telegram.  Nick is an accomplished downhill skier, PADI certified SCUBA diver; he also enjoys a variety of active recreation including tennis, riding motorcycles, ATVs, wave runners, snow machines, horses, skeet and trap shooting; he's also taken a stab at riding camels, donkeys, elephants, ostriches, lamas, dolphins, Reindeer, bulls, mechanical bulls, and buffalo.  Nick is a member of the International Food, Wine, and Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA), a member of the North American Snow Sports Journalist Association (NASJA), Computer Press Association, The Writer's Guild, and listed in Books in Print, Media Map, and Press Access.  You can reach Nick at nickanis@aol.com .

Shuming Zhang is a Lifestyle, Recreation, Food, travel writer, photographer, and videographer who has traveled extensively throughout the United States, Eruope, and China. You can reach Shuming at zhangshuming21@gmail.com. .

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