The best gifts are the things that you wouldn’t buy for yourself, so this Christmas when I got a  groupon for a Tandem jump at Skydive Spaceland out in Clewiston. I was psyched.

I took my time to get an appointment to jump, but this weekend we drove out and (literally) took the plunge.

Being my first time at a Skydiving facility I was very impressed with the operation that was being run. Everything went on it a cool open hangar, since you were expected to wait for a couple hours between your signing up and getting your training and jumping there were plenty of couches for lounging. There was also a nice little food truck in the back for food and drinks.

The training involved watching a video, and then some time with your instructor going over the basic moves, as well as the landing procedure. We came at 3pm and were ready to jump by around 6:30.

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The jump itself was very much not what I was expecting! There were another 8 jumpers in the plane and it took us what seemed like 10 or 15 minutes to climb up to our jumping altitude. Up at 14000 ft with great visibility, the view was fantastic. We could see the whole of Lake Okeechobee.

Once the door opened everyone jumped and let gravity do the rest.

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The free fall was pretty harsh, like riding a wooden roller-coaster. We did a couple of turning maneuvers, I tried to follow the instructions but to be honest, taking everything in was a bit overwhelming. The free fall lasted for about 60 seconds.

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After the signal from my instructor, I opened the chute at about 7000 ft. The chute opening was a bit of a jolt, but then it was very smooth & quiet. Got to do more maneuvers, make jokes about being alive and talk about the landing.

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There was a little breeze so landing was easy, dropped into a stand up landing. Total flight time of 4 or 5 minutes.

The second tandem jump is $99 if you buy it right away so I signed up just so that I can experience it again now that I know what I’m getting into.

After 2 tandems you can start the solo jumps, the first 18 are part of a course. The jump was pretty overwhelming, and I’m not sure if I would want to do it solo, but it is a unique experience.

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Big thanks to Stella for getting me this fantastic experience as well as my instructor Adam and the team at Skydive Spaceland for making my visit both pleasant and thrilling.