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The Good Life: Skydiving

One of the most popular action sports today is skydiving.  If you have a desire to fly, it may be at the top of your bucket list.  But the same old question keeps coming up. 'Why jump out of a perfectly good airplane?' Skydiving enthusiasts love living life to the fullest. For them, the answers are simple. The freedom. The peace. And maybe just because someone said "GO!" 

"It's an indescribable freedom," Nicci Shaw said, "Until you do it there's no way to put it into words. It's total freedom." Skydivers describe the feeling as being similar to meditating. The stress is just gone. For those minutes, there are no bills due, no phone calls, no mortgage.

"Everything that was going on during the day just leaves your mind and for a few seconds out of the day, you're just at peace," according to Brad Tudor, an avid skydiver.

Some skydivers love the thrill but they all agree that the main risks are not with equipment failure. Nicci said,"Other people's stupidity is the main problem to be honest. We train and there's a lot of skills we learn not only for our safety but other people's safety." She adds, "You can give a person knowledge but you can't make them think. The key is to find people that you trust."

For those new to the sport, not knowing what to expect when you leave the plane can cause a little anxiety at first. "If you fly belly to the earth, your skydive is approx 60 seconds depending on the altitude you pull the parachute. It should take about 4 seconds for your parachute to fully open," said Nicci, who went from white water kayaking to the high flying sport of diving. She also works on drop zones packing chutes for other jumpers.

But, counting the seconds in freefall until you pull the parachute is only part of the ride. Brad says there's a lot more to it. "I enjoy the canopy flight too. So the end of my freefall isn't necessarily the end of my sky dive. It's just the end of the first half."

And about that landing? "It's no different than getting up out of your recliner and walking a few steps. Ok. You might have to jog a little," Nicci said with a laugh.

There have always been big rumors flying around about skydiving. Brad knows because he's heard them all. "That we all have a death wish. That's its an incredibly unsafe sport.
It is a safe sport. If you look at the safety incidents and fatality reports, it's very low for this sport."

Another misconception is the fear of falling. Bill Flynn has been skydiving for over 20 years. He said, "You're supported by the forward motion of the airplane. You don't have that falling feeling unless you're jumping from a balloon or a helicopter." 

So, now it's on your bucket list.  All you need are few skydiver friends. Nicci Shaw says that's the best part. "Before I became a skydiver, my friend base was very small. Now I have friends all over the world... by the thousands."

For a Florida trio that traveled all the way to Tennessee, this is a new drop zone experience. Yarik Sychov found new friends when he took up the sport about a year ago. "I could just feel the atmosphere. The people were amazing to me. It's a big part of skydiving actually. The people and the community." He now lives right on a drop zone in Florida.

For me, the sky's the limit. If I pass you on the way down, I'll be sure to give a thumbs up!

For information on places to skydive in your area:
The Good Life: Skydiving

Tuesday, August 19 2014, 12:56 PM EDT

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