Nearly a year and a half since my first skydive, I received the opportunity to participate in a tandem skydive. I had never done one before (as I went right into AFF for my first jump), and it was a bit scary.
My friend Boyd just got his tandem instructor rating (congrats dude) and one of the many requirements for this rating is to take 10 practice tandem jumps, 5 of which must be with other experienced skydivers. I met the 100 jump minimum for the ride-along, so Boyd and I geared up and headed to the plane. I rarely get on a plane without a skydiving rig anymore (even when I'm traveling I usually bring my parachute as a carry-on for the cool dropzones in different parts of the country) and it was a little nerve racking to have neither a helmet nor a parachute while getting on the jump plane. But the fear soon subsided as Boyd strapped in my harness and we jumped out of the plane. It was a short freefall, and very sluggish because of the drogue which sits above the tandem group to keep them stable and to slow the falling speed to an agreeable amount (without the drouge a tandem group can easily reach speeds of 200 miles per hour). When you pull the parachute (which simply releases the drogue and uses it as a pilot chute to deploy the main) you go back into freefall for a bit, as the drogue falls away and you accelerate for a bit before the main comes out. It was fun, but unexpected. After that, it was a nice long canopy flight to the ground, where we landed safe and sound.
So for anyone considering doing a tandem jump, do it! It was a lot of fun, and not as scary as I'd imagined. It is a great way to experience skydiving and I'm even more excited about jumping now. Thanks again Boyd for the sweet experience.