Skydiving in San Diego: 19 Steps

Falling at 135 miles per hour is what some people call a good time.  I apparently am one of those people.  This is a step-by-step introduction as to what sky diving in San Diego, CA, USA was like for me.

For my 32nd birthday Tilly hooked me up with a tandem skydiving jump from 13,000 feet.  In San Diego, that means you get to see across the Mexico border without your life being threatened.  That sounded good to me, so we went for it.

After a few cancellations because of rain and wind, we finally got to jump a few days after my birthday.  My good friend, Rob, went with us and jumped for the first time as well.

Step 1: Sign your life away.

It’s amazing the waivers you have to sign to be able to do this.  After signing all the legaleese which basically says if you die it’s your fault for being an idiot and jumping out of a plane 2 miles above the earth, you get to wait.  They usually do this to make you so that you’ll crap your pants before you get hooked to another person.

Step 2: Watch as others potentially fall to their death.

This step is where the men become boys as we watch the falling bodies from heaven.  You stand there, watching people get thrown from a moving plane and hope that they remembered their parachutes.  It seems like every person who you watch falling (no, not floating) has forgotten to pull the cord and will fall to their imminent death 2 miles below… no wait, only 1 mile now… yup, they’re gonna die.

And just at the last minute (or so it seems), the parachute comes out. Phew.  Well, if they lived, I suppose I could do it.

Step 3: Get into a jumpsuit.

Why? Because in December it actually is kinda cold, even in San Diego.  I actually wore gloves.  And let me tell you, brrrrrr… my hands could have been stuck in the snow for an hour bare for all I knew by the time we were done.  Oh, and these jump suits are pretty, too.  Hott I tell ya.

Step 4: Do what the instructor tells you.

This is the part where you go through extensive training before you jump.  It goes something like this:

Instructor: Ok you pee-ons, get on the ground and give me 20 push ups.

** Everybody hits the deck **

Instructor: Jeeze you guys are gullible. Ok, but seriously, get on the ground and pull your legs back and your head back so just your stomach is touching the ground.

** We all try, but those of us over 30 snap hips and rotator cuffs **

Students: *Grunts*

Instructor: Next up for you Nancies is some Yoga lessons.

As we all pretend we can pull our legs back farther than they really go and fake that it’s not killing us, the instructor tells us we’re done.  Now that we’ve had our yearly workout of all of 17 and half seconds, we’re just about ready to go.

I think they do this part just to humiliate everyone.  It looks like you’re having sex with the ground, but hey, you’re gonna die, remember?  So whatever.

Step 5: Wait around nervously for the plane to land.

Step 6: Get in the airplane.

Now, if you’re anything like Rob, you’ll forget your goggles at this point.  I don’t really suggest doing that, but Rob rides motorcycles and pretends he’s not a girly man like the rest of us.  His instructor brought him a pair, but I think Rob just threw them off his head as soon as he jumped to prove that he is a man.

So, we get in the airplane and hang out. This is where you make as many cliche and nervous jokes that you can about being killed today.

The pilot does some awesome trick where he goes completely vertical but you stick to the seat like velcro hanging on for dear life.  I mean, if you’re gonna go, you’d rather be pushed out, right?  Not just fall out.  Hey pilot. This has nothing to do with you, ok?

Step 7: Pee your pants. (You should have already crapped in Step 2.)

Step 8: Get comfy with  your skydiving instructor.

Remember where he tore your pride down?  Yea, well, it’s about to get worse.  You sit on your instructor’s lap, hoping he’s just not that in to you.  He clips about 127 metal clips from your back to his chest.  At least it sounds like that.  I am assuming it’s only one because if he doesn’t like your breath or something… just eat a tic tac before you get to this step.

Step 9: Watch the camera person fling themselves James Bond-like out the door and hang onto the plane.

During this step, just focus on that camera and how amazing it is that that person is hanging onto a plane at 13k feet in the air because the moment you don’t, you’re going to lose more bodily fluids.  I looked down for about 1/2 second and just about threw up.  Don’t look down.  Camera guy or horizon.  Camera guy or horizon.  Just keep telling yourself that.



Step 10: Get lobbed out the door.

They tell you in your 30 seconds of training that you’re going to rock back and forth two times and then go on the 3rd.  That seems simple and pretty intuitive. Everything you do is on the 3rd one.  You will somehow forget how to count to 3 and get chucked out the door flipping around, seeing the underside of the plane you just left.

Step 11: Freak out.

Step 12: Try to remember your sex with the ground training.

If you don’t do this step, your instructor will knock you out cold.  Don’t flail your arms about. Do the sex with the ground thing and hold tight.

Step 13: Breathe.

This one is tricky.  I’m not sure how many of you have ever gone 135 mph, but that alone is freaky.  If you want to try something fun, try sticking your head out the window like a dog and breathe in.  Just don’t do this on a gravel road or while you are the one driving, but, that’s what it feels like.

Step 14: Relax and enjoy the flight.

This is the funnest part.  Everything up to this is humiliating and nerve racking.  But this 90 seconds is worth it all.  Look around, twist and turn, have fun.

Step 15: Get your junk yanked up to your stomach when the dude on your back pulls the ripcord.

‘Nuf said.

Step 16: Have a conversation with the guy who is now your best friend because you’re alive, he’s alive, and you just went through a near-death experience.

Step 17: Land on your feet.

This one is hard because you’re probably shaking and didn’t know it.  But, if I can do it, so can you. Stand up and be counted among the living again. Don’t land on your butt.

Step 18: Go to lunch and when the waitress declares that she’ll be serving you today, exclaim “I don’t care! I just jumped out of a frickin’ plane!”

Step 19: Sleep next week when the adrenaline wears off.

To do this all properly, I highly suggest the very experienced and awesome people at this Skydiving School in San Diego.

Skydiving in San Diego from nate ritter on Vimeo.

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Dood, that was incredible! Congrats, and good gift T!

Thanks buddy. Yea, it was really fun and I’d go skydiving again in a heartbeat. Anyone who’s even considering it at all should definitely do it. It’s actually quite surreal when you’re moving at 135 and it seems like nothing is moving around you because you’re so high. It’s crazy and there’s nothing like it.

Wow! I envy you but doubt I will ever do it. I had thought I was going to do the parasailing or whatever it was called that Rick was doing a few years ago but when to train for it I would have to learn to run 15 mph. carrying 75 lbs. I decided I was not. I do like flying in a helicopter which I have done a couple times – once with you and Lois, remember?
Congrats and best wishes always. Did Tilly dive too?

Hi Grandma! I don’t remember flying in a helicopter but I’m sure I would have liked it. How old was I?

No, Tilly didn’t skydive. I’m not sure she ever would, either. But it was a great present from her, that’s for sure.

I’m glad to see that you’re reading our travel blog and commenting too! That’s pretty cool. Thanks! *smiles*

Dude, sweet video! I’m jealous!

K i think it’s time to post again!

[…] had such a great time skydiving last time that I think I’ll do it again… […]

I must say that this made me laugh the entire time. GREAT article! I’m showing this to everyone.

I’ll be going skydiving with my coworkers in March and this was awesome. Thanks for posting! I can’t wait ’till I actually get the chance to throw myself out of a plane and see if all you said is true. But who knows, i’ll probably panic so much, I won’t even remember!

Thanks for posting, this was great! Great writing technique!
Blue skies,

[…] event to enjoy. Plan an offshore whale-watching excursion. Horseback ride in the backcountry. Go skydiving for the first time. (Rest assured family members will watch the video again and […]

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