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Knoxville United States
.:: ‘Scuse Me, While I Kiss The Sky ::.
Aug 09, 2004 08:29 AM 16377 Views
(Updated Aug 09, 2004 01:43 PM)

Visualize yourself 12,000 feetabove ground level. Birds hovering in faint hope, an old plane made in the days of the war whirring in the clear blue sky and a cackling crew with a wacky sense of humor discussing tales of some brave men who were not so lucky the first time. Not a very pleasant experience if you ask me, when you are aware of the fact that in just a couple of minutes you would be asked to jump off the plane or be kicked out if you offered any resistance.


You watch in despair as your friend is dragged off to the door and pushed out into an ephemeral oblivion. And then it dawns upon you that you are next in line, to be thrown into the jaws of fate, clinging on to the hope of not finding your name in that distinguished set of sky divers who had a longerfree fall than what is considered necessary to stay alive.


Slowly you make your way towards the door of the aircraft with a heavy suit and the jump master tagged to you, who tries to be reassuring but can?t seem to cut that crassly sense of humor or for that matter that evil looking grin.


You kneel at the edge observing the huge Arizona desert that lies beneath realizing the fact that it would be a matter of a few seconds before you plunged into it - towards a tiny speck of land where you are supposed to arrive, ideally with the parachute open. Gripped by a strange combination of excitement and fear and an anticipation of ?how would it feel?,you fold your hands and jump into?. Into thin air !!!


Spinning for a while before your instructor decides to stop the fun, you feel like you have been suspended in an air cushionquite contrary to the anticipated feeling of being dragged through a high resistant material at dizzy speeds. Soon you begin to gain upon speed to reach 120-130 mphwith no cops on trail. You attempt to scream out on top of your lungs only to find your tongue being hurled all around your face unable to comprehend the speed of the wind. Realizing the futility of opening your mouth, you instead wave at the cameraman next to you who is holding onto the only visual proof that you had gone flying.


About 40-50 seconds later, there is a sharp tug,a snapping sensation as the parachute unfurls behind you thus cutting your speed. The mood slowly shifts to one that is serene, in sharp contrast to the thrill you had experienced just moments ago. Being the adventurous kinds, you take over the controls from the master and do quite a few spins in the air,simultaneously witnessing the beautiful view below as it gains upon more resolution.


A couple of isolated clouds still hover around you making way as you pass them by. As the buildings get larger and larger, you are reminded by the jump master of the correct stance for safe landing. Raising your feet parallel to the ground, you slowly slide into the sand below, satiated with the flying experience - a moment for life,which is duly captured by the cameraman, who had reached the ground a few minutes earlier.


?So, how was it??


?Can?t say ? whhheww wwooohhw thudddd?


?Would you do it again??


?Oh Heck, Yeah!!?


--


The scenario just described above was one that is termed as ?Tandem Sky Diving?.Basically it means that if the parachute doesn?t open, there would be two causalities instead of just one. As described earlier it involves the jump master and you jumping in tandem while remaining harnessed together. You are allowed to perform the basic actions on your own, but the jump master can take over anytime if he feels that he cannot trust you with his life.


Tandem is something which most of the new comers start off with. It involves a basic training that lasts for about 30 minutes featuring the usual dos and don?ts while in the air. It cost me 95$for the jump and 80$ for the video. This was at the Marana Sky Diving Centrenear Tucson, Arizona.


I had to sign a legal document that prevented me from dragging them to the court if anything were to go wrong, (The court of god, yeah) which meant that I had to be 18 years of age or 16, if accompanied by someone older who can take the blame.


It was also imperative that I could not have more than 220 lbsof lard/muscle/bone in my body. I also needed to be free of any heart disease (breakups were tolerated) and hopefully not show any signs of pregnancy, epilepsy, brain damage (try not to show it), asthma, liver or kidney failure etc.


Experienced sky divers can prefer a more advanced form of diving called as ?Accelerated Free Fall?,which is more expensive to begin with but you can choose to jump alone. The training usually lasts the whole day and sets you poorer by around 250-300$. (Does not include the video)


All this sounds pretty fine, but there is always that nagging question of what are the chances of the parachute not opening. Of course, sky diving is not without its share of risks.But if the manuals were to be believed, not more than forty people die each year because of sky diving, which makes it one of the safest adventure sportsthat one can ever indulge in.


I can sense that some of the readers are already interested and have begun making plans for their next terror vacation. If you happen to be in a school, the best place to enquire about sky diving is at the adventure clubat your institute. Students usually get good discounts especially if they are a part of a large group. As far as spots where one can sky dive (stop thinking of the Empire State Building) there are about 300-350 such locations in the United States alone. A simple call to 1-800-SKY-DIVEwould connect you to the nearest sky diving location in your area.


All said and done, sky diving is one of the most exhilarating and rewarding experiences one can ever have. And make sure you get the video. It is worth it. I dived two years ago and even this day, when I watch that video of mine, I can feel the wind rushing around my ears. And to answer Joe again (my camera man) to his fairly original query,


?Would you do it again??


?Oh Heck, Yeah!!?


So if you happen to spot me floating in the air anytime, kindly ,


?Scuse Me, While I Kiss The Sky


--damo?


The title of the review is borrowed from the lyrics of Jimi Hendrix?s Purple Haze, couldn?t think of a more appropriate title.


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