Who wants to volunteer to fly 13,500 feet into the air in an aging, single-engine prop plane?

Okay, you might have done that before, but what if I told you that the plane would have no seats or seatbelts? It’s not sounding too good right now, is it?

Now add the fact that a complete stranger will be strapped to your back – I know, I’ve probably lost many takers right there – and that he’ll probably be about 30 years older than you.

But I’m telling you – you absolutely have to do this! You absolutely have to get in the prop plane, go up 13,500 feet with a total stranger strapped to your back and when you get there – here’s the kicker – you have to jump out.

Now you get where I’m going with this. I’m talking about the exhilarating experience of skydiving.

Cassindy Chao remembers her skydiving experience, which was 20 years ago, like it just happened the other day. “It gives you an amazing sense of freedom,” she said. “The initial feeling is like you’re sliding through the sky like a dragonfly, but you’re really falling at terminal velocity. It’s so much fun to do somersaults in the air. It makes your heart stop.”

Sophomore Mary Frishman has a different recollection of her freefalling adventure. “Skydiving was fun, but it wasn’t nearly as fun as I thought it would be,” she said. “I was upset because they didn’t let me jump by myself. When I was about to jump out, I was slightly freaked because I’m kind of scared of heights, but I was upset because I thought it would upset me a whole lot more! And during the parachute ride to the ground, you’re just sitting there with the instructor. It’s weird because you feel like you’re supposed to talk to him but you don’t know him at all.”

Sophomore Eline Liu got to experience the thrill of diving under the effects of sleep deprivation. “I didn’t get very much sleep the night before skydiving, so while I was doing it, everything seemed so surreal,” she recounted. “It was like a dream. When it finally sunk in, I was like ‘Oh, God!’ And then I saw people jump out and I was like, ‘Shit, I don’t want to go!”

“At that point, I just wanted to get it over with so I wouldn’t have any more anticipation. So, I started acting tough like, ‘Yeah, I can do this,’ and then we jumped out. The whole time coming down, I just wanted to pull the cord.”

Sophomore Mike Huang remembers being freaked out during his adventure. “When we were driving in the car to skydive, I got really freaked out,” he said. “I was like, ‘This is not going to happen – it’s not going to work.’ When the plane was 4,000 feet in the air, I looked out and thought it was time to jump. I looked at the altimeter and was like, ‘Oh, shit! We’re not even halfway there!'”

Huang did enjoy the freefall. “The feeling of jumping was incredible. You just keep falling and falling and falling. While I was falling, I was thinking, ‘We’re not going to hit the ground anytime soon anyway.’ When we got to the ground, I hugged Eline the hardest I’ve ever hugged her.”

The four divers have different opinions on whether they would ever skydive again.

“I certainly wouldn’t do it again today – I’m too chicken,” Chao said. “If my three-year-old daughter wants to go skydiving when she’s 16, I would tell her ‘No way! It’s no fun and a waste of money and your mom was not very wise at that age,'” she said, half-jokingly.

When asked whether she would ever go skydiving again, Liu hesitated before finally answering. “I’d do it again,” she answered with some effort.

Huang and Frishman were unequivocal in their desire to skydive again.

“Yes, I’d definitely do it again given the opportunity,” Huang answered without missing a beat.

As for Frishman, she is considering going even further with the thrilling sport. “I might take the skydiving training course eventually. I would really like to be able to skydive by myself.”

Frishman is also quick to add that most people would consider her “insane.” She doesn’t seem bothered by this at all.

Indeed, if she felt that skydiving wasn’t thrilling enough, one has to question her sanity.

Tipton can be reached at rtipton@campustimes.org.



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