Skydiving in San Diego

1.�¯�¿�½ Take your passport in case you land on the side of the border that makes way better Mexican food.
Pacific Coast Skydiving is located at Brown Field, 6810 Curran Street, San Diego, CA, 92154 and can be reached via email www.pcskydiving.com or by phone (619) 804-1494.�¯�¿�½The plane ride flies you over the ocean and rounds back to the drop site, over land, where a mere�¯�¿�½gust of wind�¯�¿�½can make it an international flight.

2.�¯�¿�½ Set your alarm for the exact right minute.
The night before the jump you must summor your psychic abilities to accurately set the alarm clock.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½You should synchronize you day’s beginning with a local radio station’s playlist. The song you want–that you have to hear–is the Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights.”Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½In case you haven’t heard the tune, the music itself is dulcet, but the lyric is prophetic.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½It has less than nothing to do with skydiving but it does pack aÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½propitious omen when the chorus sings ‘They will see us waving from such great heights/ ‘come down now,’ they’ll say/ But everything looks perfect from far away/ ‘come down now’ but we’ll stay…’Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ Okay, so you won’t stay but not for lack of wanting.

3. Wear long pants or really tough shorts.
I wore shorts that were made of a soft cottony material. Don’t do this. As one falls, the harness strapped between your legs and bottom knifes into your flesh. No, it doesn’t do anything to your undergarments; it merely scrapes off the top six layers of derma on your very high, very inner thighs.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

4. Buy yourself a NASA flight jacket and call yourself an astronaut.
As one takes off, the plane goes from a westward ground roll of the tires to a northwest leap into the air; in the process, there is a little excitement. I don’t know the physics of it (though I’m sure the pilot would be happy to explain it to you after he surprises you with it) but you expierience 0 Gs. The ceiling rises, the floor rises and you float somewhere in between. Then after you laugh and scream and feel a feeling you’ve never felt before, your skydiving instructor will say, “You were an astronaut for one second. Now you know what it feels like to float in space.” Very cool.

5.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ Don’t wear flip flops.
Or you’ll lose them as you dangle your feet out of the plane. Yeah. To eject ourselves from the plane, the guy who would soon be attached to me explained, we would open the door/window that didn’t want to budge and scoot into position to ‘rock out’ of the plane.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½I was to sit as close to the edge as possible and, as he said, “Dangle your feet outside the plane.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ We’ll rock forward, back and forward again to fall out.”Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½”Hold on,” I put up my hands and said, “I’m going to dangle my feet outside the plane?” “Yep, it’s cool.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ You’ll love it.”Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½”O-kay.”Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ Low and behold, moments later, my legs were dangling.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ There I was, sitting on the edge of a metal flying contraption that’s the size of my Miata and speeding over land that was so far down that the people looked smaller than atoms, quarks or strings and there were my legs, just dancing in the air, bouncing up and down rhythmically as they whizzed throught waves of air.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½It not only seemed like an appropriately silly thing to do but it was deliriously fun.

6.�¯�¿�½ Arch your back.
You’re not a fetus anymore, so don’t act like one.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½No, spread everything you got, open yourself up, take it all.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½The reason isn’t philosophical, it’s physical.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½If AND ONLY IF you arch your back, kick your legs behind and throw your arms out–did I mention arch your back?–you can somersault and spin and do all sorts of unbelievable tricks during the freefall that would make Kerri Strug wet herself.

7.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ Don’t bother worrying about landing.
Two seconds before landing, I had a thought that really should have come earlier I think. It was ‘Oh my god! I don’t know how to land! Do I bend my knees, run, what?’Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½Just as I was alphabetizing my list of options, the instructor screamed into my ears, “Pull up your legs!”Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½Like an obedient attachee, I tucked my feet under my derriere and he landed the both of us. After I touched feet to ground, bent my knees and plumped down on my bum, I hailed, “That was the coolest thing ever!”

8.�¯�¿�½ Reference a thesaurus before going.
The whole time I kept saying ‘wow.’ Quietly. But incessantly.

9.�¯�¿�½ Call ahead and make sure only good looking people are working that day.
Let’s see. There was Cutie #1, the instructor who not only knew that making people laugh will ease their pre-jump jitters but practiced it with the smooth precision of a professional comic. Then there was Cutie #2, the dark, shy pilot with a smile that will send you soaring. Cutie #3 was some Brazilian guy who randomly bopped around doing I-don’t-know-what but offering to show us skydiving videos and chatting with us in such a thick Portuguese accent that we only caught about a third of what he was saying. Even the young Cutie #4 who answered the phones and drove the car to the drop site could probably pose in the Hotties Falling From The Sky calendar. And even if you’re not into handsome males, no matter, life is always better with good looking people around.

10.�¯�¿�½ Have a�¯�¿�½cocktail and catch a flick�¯�¿�½about a plane crash just before you go up.�¯�¿�½ Seriously.
My friend and I were running a few minutes late.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½The skydiving staff was running a few minutes later. The nice, though definitely-under-21 young man who worked there suggested that we could walk to the bar down the way. With eyes popping outÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½of my head, I said, “You want us to get drunk before we jump out of an airplane?” His eyes launched,Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½swung around mine and then returned to his sockets before he said, “No! They have a restaurant inside.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½I meant if you want to get something to eat.” “Ahh.” We nodded our heads suspiciously andÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½declined the suggestion.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½Instead, weÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½wandered around, looked at other planes (literally found oneÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½from WWII) and put our hair in pony tails. After a while, we were still waiting so we decided to watch a movie, whatever was in the machine. I swear toÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½everything holy,Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½I’m not making this up. The movie in the DVD player was “Flight of the Phoenix.” For those of you who haven’t seen the film, it’s about a really, really, REALLY bad plane crash (that takes aboutÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½twenty minutes to fully depict) in a desert.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½Did I mention that the edge of the US border is all desert? Yeah, well, when I mentioned this to one of the skydiving employees, his response was, again I’m not kidding, “They lived.” “Not all of them!” I replied. He rocked his head back and forth. “Some of ’em did.” For further humor, I should mention that we weren’t able to finish the movie before our jumps. However, we did stick around long enough to view the heinous aerial destructionÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½in whichÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½one person literally fell out of the plane and soared to his death. Yeah.

11.�¯�¿�½ Clean out your goggles.
It’s just like snorkeling. Now I’m not going to condone spitting in rented equipment, but I’d definitely give it a good scrub with the bottom of your shirt because as you free fall with those things covering your only view of the world you want to see everything as clearly as possible.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½Fog sucks.

12.�¯�¿�½ Prepare to learn what quiet is.
Libraries used to be this quiet. When you fall, you hear nothing. I shouldn’t say nothing, you hear wind–but not right away. For a bit of time, you hear absolutely nothing. I’ve experienced silence in my life but never like this. And when you do eventually hear the wind, it’s not that it’s blowing that briskly, it’s just that you’re falling through it and everything else that makes a sound is so far away. The cold and the quiet as you’re falling through the levels of atmosphere are what make this experience so serenely surreal.

13.�¯�¿�½ Do the math.
Actual: Starting at about 13000 feet, a human being withoutÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½a parachute’sÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½resistance will plunge 5000 feet to the earth in only 45 seconds–that’s about 100 feet per second! The final 8000 feet takeÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½7 minutes–that’s about 1000 feet per minute.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ Experienced: The free fall felt like 4.5 seconds and the drop felt like 2 minutes. I though Einstein proved that we moved slower in time when we moved faster in space. Hmph.

14.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ Don’t fret about doing it tandem.
Now I was one of those people who always proclaimed, “I want to do it by myself. I don’t want another human being attached to me.” But this is how it played out. Angela, my friend, wanted to do it tandem, but I was hemming and hawing.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½Then I saw the difference in price (tandem is half as much) and my back account became a fan of tandem. And honestly, up in the plane all I could think was ‘I am so glad this person is going with me and he’s in charge of everything.’ Then, and this is what I tell everybody that has qualms about tandem vs. solo, you feel like you’re falling all by yourself.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½You don’t even notice that someone else is there, let alone a very close there–until they pull the cord and you’re thinking ‘oh, thanks!’ Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½Now, if you have an incurable desire to do it on your own, pay the money, spend the hours training, go for it, but seriously, being attached to someone who is not panicking or in virginal awe is quite a nice thing really.

15.�¯�¿�½ To video or not to video.
I talked to several jumpers before I went to see if they got the video and was it worth it. Most of them said they got it and it was definitely worth it. But get this, not one of those who got physical proof of aerial dynamics has watched the video yet.�¯�¿�½Not one. So you make the call. I saved my heavy chunk of change and recorded it with my mind.

16.�¯�¿�½ Have a flat tire on the way.
Now this one is probably the most important. I had a flat tire an hour before I was supposed to be at the airfield (hence the bit about running late in #10.) As the benevolent AAA man fixed my flat, he assured me that I was getting my bad luck out of the way. I suggested that it might be a sign of pernicious things to come. He said, “Aww, no! Now it’s nothing but good.”Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½He was right. So my advice to you is to get the bad out of the way before you jump to your death. And tell your parents you love them.

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