Curiosity is one. I had never done it before. I like good views of landscapes. I felt mentally and physically fit to be present in the moment. It was my co worker’s idea. We’ve made plans to go before but they didn’t go anywhere. I didn’t want to miss it this time.
Where do I start from?
As I am in Seattle, there are various ways to approach this. You could take some aerodynamics lessons first. You could jump indoors at IFly which turns out to be cheaper but without a view. You could jump in tandem which is cheaper to do the first time. Tandem is when you are strapped to a qualified diver with a parachute. You could jump at Snohomish as well. I chose taking the accelerated free fall (AFF) level 1 from the get go because my co worker was going to take it and also because I would get more worth out of the long drive to Kapowsin with not a lot more money. Being in control and getting the ropes was a bonus 🙂
How do I dress?
Tennis shoes and athletic wear is recommended. Tying hair is always a good idea.
Do they have a Cafeteria?
Taking a sandwich to go before leaving in the morning would have been a good idea too. They have a cafe with some basic options. The taco truck that arrived later looked really good.
What will my training be like?
My co worker couldn’t make it the day of. Good thing I had filled gas in my car the night before just in case. That saved a good half an hour in the morning. It’s good to have a familiar face when you are diving the first time. If not, the crew makes you comfortable plenty.
As I drove toward Skydive Kapowsin, I realized this was not a good day for a dive. I passed by large patches of dark clouds and hoped for the best. We trained for about 6 hours. They covered the equipment, basic usage and emergency routines in detail. They explained the geography of the ground we were going to land in and the wind. We waited for the clouds to clear but as there was no wind, they did not blow away that day. So, I drove back the next day.
Prepare to dive.
The next day, in comparison, was perfect! Clear blue skies and a day to sleep on what I learned was exactly what I needed. We went over the routine and hand symbols several times before, and in the plane. I was terrified the entire time as I wore my jumpsuit, goggles and altimeter. The scariest was when I stepped out into 13000 feet of nothing 🙂
A lot of people ask me this. Isn’t the first time supposed to be in tandem? Actually no. May be that changed recently. You sign your life away, take the training and you’re good. The equipment this facility had was very sophisticated. We had a regular and emergency parachute. It had a built in altimeter that opens your parachute 1500 feet above the ground just in case you are physically unable to. You’ll have a walkie-talkie strapped to you to talk with the staff once your chute opens. So long as you pay very good attention to your training and respond to directions, you’ll do just fine the first time.
I checked my altimeter every 3-5 seconds. First, I fixed my posture and did 3 practice pulls. The view was amazing with Mt. Rainier in front of me and the Olympic mountain range all around. My instructors and a photographer held on to me till I pulled the chute. They just fanned away from my view. I locked my gaze at 6000 feet above the ground, waved and pulled the chute at 5500 feet. My canopy opened nice and rectangular, I was able to steer left and right. The rest was steering to where our bus could pick us up.
I crashed landed pretty close to a wire fence. It wasn’t the best canopy work but not bad for the first time. The biggest blunder was dragging the parachute on the stony ground. That equipment costs $2000 🙀
How do I feel?
I wasn’t ready for level 2 yet. This was enough adventure for the day. I promptly drove back. After 2 hours of driving it sunk in. I dove in the sky by myself. I’m not scared of anything anymore 🙂
My tips for first timer:
1. Dive when *you* want to and when *you* feel ready
2. Walk through the routine with several instructors. Everyone has great tips to share
3. Ask how you need to dress beforehand.
4. Relax 🙂
5. Pull the chute 😀
Nazneen Malik is a Software Engineer based in the Greater Seattle area since 2010. She is originally from Mumbai. She did her B.E. in Computer Engineering and then worked as a Software Developer in Mumbai for 2 years. After that, she moved to Utah to do her Masters in Computer Science in 2008. Nazneen Malik is passionate about her career and serving the community. For fun, she likes to read, hike, salsa dance, and travel!
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