Skydiving in Davis — Is It Worth It?
By Amy Thoma
Last weekend I had the opportunity to sky dive at SkyDance Skydiving in Davis. It’s a little off the grid, but well worth the 20-minute drive. I can’t really say that throwing myself out of a plane was ever on my bucket list or something I planned to do but I sort of figure you only live once and why not?
We signed up for the 13,000 foot tandem skydive (middle of the road, apparently) which includes a 60-second free fall, the opportunity to pull your own rip cord and an instructional class. We arrived at 8:00 AM on a Saturday morning and I was slightly concerned that “SkyDance” appeared to be a modular home (aka trailer) in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of tattooed guys drinking red bull at a picnic table. Not reassuring.
Once we went inside, we paid and literally signed our lives and legal rights away on a scary 3-page waiver and started the instructional class. A very energetic and enthusiastic, outdoorsy woman named Gray talked us through arching our backs in the air, how to jump out, land and what the equipment all does. While I was initially extremely nervous, the class is incredibly reassuring. Did you know that parachutes have a computer on them that automatically deploys the backup if you’re going too fast or are too close to the ground? Because they do. So even if you pass out… you’ll be fine. Sort of.
Once the class was over I headed into the hangar to meet my instructor. I expected some kind of stoner, beach bum, irresponsible crazy person but instead was greeted by a sweet man named Tim who is an IT consultant and studying at night to be a nurse. After he gave me a hug (apparently he could tell I was nervous) he informed me that he’s jumped out of a plane more than 3,500 times and enjoyed it every time. He couldn’t have been nicer and I instantly felt safe. We put on flight suits (really unattractive by the way) and got into the plane.
Once I was in the air I figured there was no backing out and I may as well enjoy the ride. If I was going to plummet to my death I may as well have fun, right? We got up to 13,000 feet, headed to the edge of the plane (btw you sit and lean- you don’t jump) and away we went. Jumping really isn’t as scary as you’d think. I don’t enjoy jumping off rocks into the lake, hardcore mountain biking or base jumping but skydiving really does feel different. There’s no imminent danger so it affects the mind differently. It is extremely surreal. The freefall wasn’t really my cup of tea but after about 25 seconds I relaxed enough to breathe, check my altimeter, get my bearings and pull the ripcord. Thankfully the parachute opened and I enjoyed a 7-minute ride to earth.
Personally I found the freefall terrifying and I’m not sure I’d call it “fun.” It’s a cool experience but it’s also scary. However, the parachute ride is AWESOME. I could see all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge to the west, Sacramento to the east, the Sutter Buttes to the north and the vast amounts of farmland that surround us. Flying with the parachute is the closest thing I’ll ever get to flying like Superman and it’s really fun- and before I knew it, time to land! I was surprised to find that I actually didn’t want the ride to end!
The landing was soft and easy and other than a bit of inner ear pain from the change in altitude, I felt great. It’s not painful, requires basically no strength and is surprisingly gentle.
Overall, skydiving is a great experience and one well worth it. Like I said, it’s not something I was ever particularly excited about but I’m really glad I went. Skydance in Davis is professional, clean, safe and a lot of fun. If you’re thinking about it, you should take the leap and do it!