This seems to be a year of interesting invitations. After swimming with the manatee and joining the Orpheus Krewe for their Captain's Party it was a delight to chat with one of the lovely actresses, Olga Wilhelmine, who road on the Orpheus float with Quentin Tarantino. Her invitation? Skydiving with the Gold Coast Skydivers in Lumberton, Mississippi.
Gold Coast Skydivers have been in business for 21 years and according to Drop Zone, have the top rating of 4.96 out of 5 stars based on 191 user reviews.
If you have it on your bucket list to skydive once in your life but don't want to make a hobby of it, you can go for a tandem drop. Tandem Skydiving is where you are secured in the parachute harness to an experienced skydiving instructor. It only takes a ten minute briefing before you jump as the instructor is there the entire time. You jump from the plane at 14,500 feet and freefall for just over a minute before deploying the main parachute. After the chute opens you and your instructor have another five or so minutes of the spectacular view while floating down to the drop zone below.
The Gold Coast Skydivers aren't just for one time drops. Their trainers can work you through to certification as a skydiver and some of their staff are certified to train skydive trainers.
Their Accelerated Freefall Program is a combination of ground school and skydiving. Instead of the ten minute training, for level 1 you have over four hours of ground training. For the Accelerated Freefall instead of just going tandem, you have two instructors that accompany you during the drop to ensure your jump goes smoothly. On both the tandem and AFF jumps you can pay to have video shot of the jump from boarding the plane to landing. Since this requires someone to hang onto the outside of the plane to catch you jumping, then following you down, then a person on the ground to catch your landing, and someone to process the video, for only $94 it is well worth the price. Be sure to check out their video of an actually AFF drop.
Saturday was the annual safety day and Ben Crowell, their safety and training advisor, spoke on safety issues. For an outsider, it was reassuring to listen to Ben speak on what they do to promote safety in their sport and to test the knowledge of those present on the standards of rigging (setting up the parachute and backup parachute so they will function properly), jumping, and how to appropriately respond to other potential emergencies.
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