Surviving the skydiving plunge

Column

There is about a 1 in 165,000 chance of dying when you jump out of a plane with a parachute strapped to your back.

Despite the favorable odds, it’s still quite the rush.

Skydiving is one of the few extreme sports available to people living in the Wichita area.

One company located east of Derby, Air Capital Drop Zone, provides the opportunity to scratch skydiving off your bucket list.

They provide tandem skydives with a professional skydiver or the option to have individual training in order to jump out of the plane solo.

Both options are pricey. To tandem jump, it will cost either $200 or $210. For the individual training, it will cost between $190 and $200.

There is also an option to have video and photos taken of you during your descent. Add another $75 for that.

Now, you want to know what it’s like to barrel face-first toward the earth from 10,000 feet? In the name of journalism, this reporter took the jump.

Your aversion to heights, fear of death and love of adrenaline will determine the anxiety and fear you have before you enter the plane.

Of course, there is some training and preparation involved, but for a tandem jump, it’s mostly just getting strapped into a harness, putting yourself in a small plane and sitting uncomfortably as the plane slowly ascends to 10,000 feet.

That takes about 15 minutes. And it gives you a wonderful opportunity to see how flat and square Kansas really is.

When it’s time to jump, you back yourself into the instructor and he hooks you up to his harness. He opens the door, and cold air rushes into the cabin of the plane. This is probably the scariest moment of skydiving.

Then you step out with both feet onto steel “platform” that is about five inches wide and 16 inches long. The instructor holds you in place as you dangle over the edge, smile for the camera and then jump.

Freefalling at 120 miles per hour for 30 seconds is like putting your body in front of a six-foot wide industrial air hose. You can’t hear anything, your skin is pushed back into your skull and it’s almost impossible to take a breath.

After falling 5,000 feet, the parachute opens, and you can glide down to the landing zone or pull some G’s by doing 360 turns with the parachute pulleys.

Then hopefully, you land safely, and walk home a survivor.

Skydiving is an interesting experience. It’s worth doing once, just so you can say you did. But there is a lot of safety involved, and that’s why it could be boring for true adrenaline junkies.