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Skydiving a good way to end college on high note

By David Chang

Jun. 2, 2004 9:00 pm

It all started something like this:

Coworker: Let’s go skydiving.
My head: Don’t say yes, don’t say yes.
My mouth: Alright, let’s go.
My head: Oh, crap.

Before I realized that the words “sky” and
“dive” don’t necessarily go well together, I had
boasted my intentions to too many friends to back out. Next thing
you know, I was on Interstate 15, heading toward Skydive Elsinore,
fittingly located in the town of Lake Elsinore, fittingly adjacent
to a body of water named Lake Elsinore.

Why jump out of a plane, you ask? Having a 15-page research
paper to write and no job after graduation will do that to a man.
But seriously, it’s the perfect end to a wild and crazy four
years in college.

Surprisingly the most surreal moment was actually reading the
contracts and signing my life away. It’s jarring and oddly
funny reading all the hypothetical situations in which you can
sustain an injury or die, and Skydive Elsinore will not be
responsible for any of it. Also, the contract doesn’t pertain
strictly to skydiving.

If I hit my head while entering the small doorway of the plane
and get knocked unconscious, I can’t sue. If a rattlesnake in
the area deals me a fatal bite, it’s my fault. If I go to the
rest room and slip and break my neck, I just have to suck it

And of course the good people at Skydive Elsinore videotape
everyone reading and signing the final clause. Now, I was ready to

Not so fast, the receptionists alerted me. My friends and I
still had to watch a video presentation about tandem skydiving.
Footage of skydiving tricks with U2’s “Elevation”
as the soundtrack was expected, but the image of tandem skydive
pioneer Bill Booth and Bill Booth’s beard brought down the
house. The man grew his beard well past his chest like a real
pioneer riding a covered wagon to the Gold Rush. Many of us
couldn’t take him seriously even if our lives depended on it,
which, sadly, was actually the case. We couldn’t help but
giggle throughout the video. “The last time I shaved was the
last time I lost a lawsuit,” quipped my friend.

Back to the business at hand: It was time for some simple
training. Instructor Tigger’s sage advice included: 1) arch
your back, 2) relax and remember to breathe, and 3) don’t hit
your head on top of the plane’s door opening.

Now, I’m ready. Any last-minute jitters were quickly
quashed when my friend reminded us all that “we have a higher
chance of getting killed driving here than the actually

The plane was a piece of junk, but nobody seemed to mind because
we all had parachutes, backups, and backups for the backups. We
strapped onto our instructors and jumped out of the plane.

You can’t help but let out a scream or a curse word at the
instant your feet find out there’s nothing beneath them. I
was speechless when I reached the ground, and am still speechless

One minute free fall, seven minutes of dangling on a parachute,
and $184 well spent (includes a complimentary Skydive Elsinore

Now I just have to find a job so I can afford to go up again

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David Chang
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