Air rushes past you at 120 miles per hour while the California countryside unfolds thousands of feet below. Blue sky and empty space surround you, and the voice of your U.S. Parachute Association–rated instructor is the only sound you can hear above the wind. At 4,500 feet, the instructor pulls the parachute cord, and the two of you gently drift down to land in 32 acres of open, unobstructed grass. This is what divers experience during tandem skydives or jumps as a part of the Accelerated Freefall program at Skydive Sacramento.
Pilots at the helm of a 15-passenger King Air twin turbine, a four-passenger Cessna 182, or a five-passenger Cessna 206 take students to altitudes of up to 13,000 in as few as 15 minutes. Fitted securely with harnesses and chutes, participants can ask their diving instructor questions about the sport before plunging from the plane in a hands-on free fall and canopy flight, during which they learn steering and hot-air-balloon-avoidance tactics. Though the instructors cater to first-time divers, they also coach more experienced students toward their skydiving license. Instructors, many with 2,000 dives under their belt, also teach students to land in a main grass landing area or a high-performance area with swoop pond.