Bucket List: Skydiving At A Place That’s Had 16 Deaths

Bucket List: Skydiving At A Place That’s Had 16 Deaths

Last Updated on January 7, 2020

This is how my first skydive happened.

Friend: So the Pho here is actually pretty good. I’ve been craving Vietnamese food lately. Is that weird? Maybe I’m pregnant.
Me: Want to go skydiving?
Friend: Ok.


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About Me

Kien Lam  

I'm Kien, an international photographer and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. After quitting my job in finance, I've traveled to over 70 countries in the last 10 years finding the coolest experiences to check off my bucket list. I hope to help you find your inspiration with my photography and tips to travel the world.

So we finished our lunch, drove an hour out to Lodi and paid $100 to jump from a plane.

UPDATE: I had no idea at the time, but this the Skydive Lodi Parachute Center has been plagued with 16 deaths and a plane crash between 1999 and 2018. I didn’t know it at the time, but now that I say it was only $100 to jump, don’t consider that too much of a bargain.

But first, we had to wait. For 3 hours. I passed the time watching Forrest Gump in the hangar. When our turn came up, I expected a long briefing about skydiving and how safe it would be. We had none of that. The guys just showed us how to get into our harness and off we went. The entire process from suiting up to landing lasted all of 15 minutes. Even the plane was ready to go before we finished our little introduction.

Plane Tandem Skydiving In Lodi

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

It’s absolutely true. For those hesitant to try skydiving, the thought of it is actually scarier than the act itself. What most people don’t realize is that when you see the door open and step up to the edge, you get a rush of adrenaline through your system. The endorphins released by your adrenal gland gives you a natural high, so while your heart might be pumping twice as fast, it’s not so much fear as an excitement. The hard part is all the waiting and overthinking it. Even then, it’s not so bad. I always thought that the plane ride up would be the most nerve racking part, but between the high fives and all the cavemen hooting and yelping, we were already at altitude and the doors opened.

It’s Too High To Be Afraid Of Heights

People’s main objection is a fear of heights. It’s counterintuitive, but when you’re 10000 ft up, you’re so high up that you can’t really see what’s down below. There’s just a lot of empty space. From there, just let go. I won’t try to describe it too much beyond saying that you only get that roller coaster feeling for a few seconds and then it just feels like a big fan is blowing at your body.

Kien Lam Tandem Skydiving In Lodi

Kien Lam Tandem Skydiving In Lodi

Once I hit terminal velocity and adjusted to the feeling of falling, my first thought was, “there’s a bearded guy on my back, and he’s falling with me”. Then I saw the cameraman swing around and we flew towards each other for a close up. That was awesome. About 45 seconds later, bearded guy pulls the rip chord, and then it just stopped. There wasn’t a jerk or an upward pull. It just stopped. And just like that we were gently floating back down to earth. “Welcome to my office.” It was beautiful and I hated my bearded instructor at that moment.

Kien Lam Tandem Skydiving In Lodi

How Skydiving Really Feels

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