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Falling out of an airplane 11,000 feet up, plummeting toward the Earth with only some billowing fabric and string to keep you from becoming a blot on the landscape. ...
Now that's a thrill. And while skydiving might not be for everyone, those who are into it are really into it. And those who aren't, well, they just don't know what they're missing.
"That freedom, for that 45 or 60 seconds before your chute opens -- that's about as close to flying as any of us are ever going to get," says Lance Linton, a diver himself since 1999 and owner of Skydive Maryland. "It's pretty hard to describe how great the feeling is."
For those who want to try, Skydive Maryland does some 100 tandem dives a week during the summer, operating out of Ridgely Airpark, about 26 miles east of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Nobody heads out of the plane alone; you've always got an experienced skydiver attached to your back. Not, Linton says with a laugh, that that's enough to reassure everyone.
"Most people are anywhere from nervous to scared," he says. While few prospective jumpers chicken-out -- maybe one out of a thousand, Linton estimates-- many experience a sobering moment before they actually jump. "Sometimes, it's like it really hits home that they're doing something dangerous."
Not to worry, however. In the eight years he's been open, Linton says, Skydive Maryland has never had a serious accident -- "Maybe one sprained ankle," he guesses. And their jumpers have run the gamut, from age 18 to age 80, "from people who are here to conquer a fear of heights to your stereotypical adventure-seeking college kids."
More info: Baltimore Skydive, 800-615-9085, baltimoreskydive.com
June 23, 2011