Sunday, March 23, 2014

Random observations from a tandem skydiving trip

-Similar to when I went bungee jumping, the first sensation of jumping and free-falling was somewhat overwhelming, in the sense that my brain didn't quite register what was going on. I'd heard previously that schools often don't like letting people operate the parachute themselves the first time they jump (even with training beforehand) because it's easy to lose track of how long you've been falling, and hence when you should open the chute. As a result, when I jumped I was deliberately trying to pay attention to what was going on, the view of the ground, and the process of falling. Generally speaking I felt I'd done pretty well. Then I remembered something the instructors had said on the way up when describing the process, which was that we'd do a few flips first and then start the freefall. I didn't remember that happening, so had to check the video (this was in fact the main ex-post value in getting said video). Sure enough, we did a front flip on the way out of the plane. You'd think this would be the kind of thing one would ordinarily remember, but apparently not. So it's fair to say that the base hypothesis that you probably won't be fully aware of what's going on is in fact confirmed.

-Related to the above, the scary part was not actually freefall. More scary parts included:
a) Seeing the girl and instructor who jumped before me rush off away from the plane horizontally as soon as they left the plane from the force of the wind
b) Stepping out on to the ledge, which my legs were somewhat disinclined to do, but manly pride saw me through
c) After the parachute opened, when the instructor turned the parachute into a tight turn. When I saw the parachute below what seemed to be the line of the horizon, my thought process was 'I'm sure this is actually totally safe because the instructor wouldn't do it otherwise, but GOD DAMN IT IT FEELS LIKE WE ARE ABOUT TO TIP OVER'. It was a classic example of a the difference between a belief and an alief.

-I am still in two minds about the tandem component. On the one hand, it doesn't feel like I've really been skydiving properly until I've done it myself. On the other hand, this seems like a process where prudence might dictate that it is well-suited to being left to the professionals.

-Similar to the prospect of why it always makes sense to write people insurance policies for the end of the world, it always pays to have enormous braggadocio about jumping out of a plane. Sure, there's a small chance those statements will come to be seen as rather foolhardy and ironic. But if that's the case, you won't be around to hear people's mockery! So while it might make sense to avoid needless risks that would prove catastrophic if the wrong event occurred, conditional on taking said risks it makes sense to boast about them as much as possible.

-Related to the above, the instructors said while we were in the plane that they would explain the landing part once the parachute had opened. At first this seemed disconcerting, but then it reminded me that a) this process is so bog standard that I'm not actually expected to be able to do anything at all, and b) for the purposes of what difference it made to the actual skydive, I may as well have been a sack of potatoes.

8/10 would jump again.

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