Skydiving was one of those bucket-list activities that I could have lived my whole life without doing. The thought of jumping out a plane and plummeting to my death was not one I wanted to entertain, especially since I am the type of person who dreads going on even the smallest of amusement park rides. I am the complete opposite of an adrenaline junkie. So you can imagine my panic when my boyfriend suggested we go skydiving in a foreign country. After a little peer pressure, I reluctantly agreed to go on the condition that I would be strapped to a professional jumper.
It was one of the best things I’ve ever done.
We chose Skydive Algarve located in Alvor, Portugal for its gorgeous aerial view of the Algarve coast, Spain, and Morocco. Seeing where we were taking our road trip from above provided a humbling perspective for the rest of our Portugal/Spain trip.
We arrived in Portugal late at night, camped in the car in a parking lot by the dropzone, woke up the next morning, and went to check in. The process was simple: fill out paperwork and sign a liability form saying that you understand skydiving could cause injury or death (great…). I promise the anxiety induced from this form was the scariest part of the whole experience.
After signing in, we walked to the airfield where we sat down for a safety briefing. I was so anxious that I spaced out for half of it, hoping that everything would go smooth on the way down.
Next came the dress-up. My professional tandem partner, Maud, handed me a bright orange suit and protective eye glasses. I immediately felt at ease with Maud. A Belgium native with short hair, spunky demeanor, and hundreds of jumps around the world under her belt, Maud’s energy was contagious. She assured me that all was fine and together we pumped ourselves up for the flight.
Away we go!
The group suited up and crossed the airfield to get to the plane. At this point, the adrenaline rush was in full swing. I felt like an X-Man getting ready for a mission. The plane was smaller than I expected and the wind from the turbines was so strong that I thought I was going to blow away before I got the chance to jump. Maud fastened our suits together and made the necessary checks on the parachute as the plane climbed to an altitude of 14,000 ft. I hoped to be the first to jump, but before I could make my request, I see one of the male instructors throw himself and my boyfriend out of the plane.
I was up next. I tucked my legs and prepared for the minute of free fall. Maud teased and said that as long as I screamed, I wouldn’t stop breathing, so I inhaled as much air as possible.
Then we were outside the plane. My 60 second scream was silent and I felt the cold air creep under my goggles. Maud and I lurched back slightly as she deployed the parachute. I sighed in relief because everything worked. We were floating and the view below was breathtaking. Maud gave me a brief aerial tour, pointing out which parts of the landscape were Portugal, Spain, and Morocco.
We landed on our bums painlessly in a flat patch of grass and walked in awe back inside where we received awesome matching T-shirts included in our purchase. As we drove away, I wasn’t sure how the rest of our road trip would compete with the magnificent view from the sky.
Still hesitant to jump? Here’s some reassurance:
You and your tandem skydive instructor are joined at the hip…literally!
The instructors at Skydive Algarve will be there with you from start to finish. They are there to answer any questions or concerns that you have and will make sure everything is secure and ready before you jump. You can erase your worries about doing something wrong because you body is strapped to the instructor. They walk you through proper form and you never have to touch the parachute. You can simply fall forward and fly. The staff is very experienced. My instructor Maud said she has done over 1000 jumps in places all over the world. I trusted her completely with my first dive.
Skydiving is nothing like a roller coaster.
There’s nothing I care to avoid more than the stomach dropping feeling of roller coasters and other amusement park rides. Before I went skydiving, I asked a friend of mine who jumped previously what it felt like and she described her experience as “floating on a pillow of air.” I didn’t believe her. It didn’t make sense to me how one could drop and not have their stomach fall with them. But she was right! You don’t get the drop feeling because the airplane is already moving at a similar speed at which you are about to fall. So the transition of flying say 100 mph to falling at 120 mph is smooth compared to a roller coaster which goes from a slow climb to a fast drop.
What to/What not to Bring
ID/Passport are a must
If you do not have these items, you will not be able to skydive. The desk near the airfield will be able to hold your personal items while you jump.
Closed toe shoes
You can wear flip flops, but you risk them flying off.
Do NOT bring your camera
Even if it can attach to your head, you will not be able to take it with you. You will have to purchase a photo package from Skydive Algarve.
Do bring your enthusiasm
Like I mentioned earlier, the anxiety I had before the jump was the scariest part. There is nothing to fear about the jump itself. If I would have known how much fun I was going to have, I would have left my worries at home.