The first parachute was invented when Jack, tumbling helplessly from his titanium beanstalk, used a purloined pair of giant underpants to steady his fall. Glide to earth safely with today's deal: for $125, you get a tandem jump (up to a $199 value) with NorCal Skydiving, located at the Cloverdale Municipal Airport in Sonoma County, around an hour and a half from San Francisco. Divers must weigh less than 250 pounds and be 18 or older to take the plunge. Call ahead to schedule a time, but keep in mind that dives are subject to weather, which itself is subject to the whims of Zeus.
The tandem jump begins by equipping you with a jump suit, harness, and goggles that keep the wind and mosquitoes from interfering with possible sights of the Russian River, Point Reyes beaches, and local vineyards. Sky co-captains will then meet up with a United States Parachute Association–certified tandem instructor, who will explain aircraft-exit techniques, the free fall, and landing procedures before heading to the aircraft. When the plane's height-o-meter ticks between 10,000 and 13,000 feet (altitude depending on weather and wind), it will be time to jump. Leaping from the airplane nest results in about a minute of free fall, reaching speeds of up to approximately 120 miles per hour, or faster than the time it takes the Flash to circle the globe and cultivate a vineyard. Postjump, feel free to hang around the drop zone to watch others leap, pitch a picnic and cook out on NorCal's outdoor grill, or head out to explore wine country while recounting the thrilling fall from space.
NorCal is open from 9 a.m. to sunset on weekends, and 10 a.m. to sunset on weekdays. Jumps are available Wednesday through Sunday from May to October, and Friday through Sunday from November to April. Peruse NorCal Skydiving's website to learn about what to bring to the jump and the answers to common questions.
An additional fuel surcharge of $1 per pound will apply for jumpers weighing more than 200 pounds.
More than 2 miles above the Russian River, a skydiver jumps from a plane, quickly accelerating to racecar speeds of 120 mph before a canopy opens above and glides the diver to earth amid views of neighboring clear waters, sprawling vineyards, and the San Francisco skyline. Located in the heart of wine country, NorCal Skydiving's professional staffers make it their mission to pass on these thrills to each customer regardless of skill level or ability to fly his or her own plane. During tandem jumps, experienced instructors and novice divers conjoin and jump together from a plane 13,000 feet in the air. Once students are hooked, instructors can coach them on advanced techniques, such as canopy flight, and then help them become licensed skydivers. Additionally, NorCal Skydiving's staff regularly parajumps into the U.S. Parachute Association to work as safety and training advisors.