Skydive Lake Tahoe: Escape the Crowds and Take the Plunge
It’s July, and along with clear skies, warm weather and long weekends, come the inevitable crowds and congestion. While Truckee usually feels like a serene mountain paradise, in summer it can occasionally seem as overcrowded as the biggest cities.
So if you’re looking to get out of town for the day or get a unique perspective on the local landscape, a trip to Skydive Lake Tahoe is a great way to seize the day, escape the masses, and see spectacular views of the area. Maybe you want to up the adrenaline ante, or perhaps skydiving has been on your lifetime to-do list. Either way, summer is a great time to fly.
Located 40 minutes north of Truckee, at the Nervino airport in Beckworth, Skydive Lake Tahoe offers tandem jumps for first-timers ($185 per jump), along with Tandem Progression and Accelerated Freefall classes for students wanting to learn to jump solo (starting at $1310). No experience is required for a tandem jump, but jumpers must be over 18, and under 200 pounds for women and 220 for men.
Founded in 1997 by professional skydiver, 8,500-jump veteran, and speed freefaller (327 miles per hour), Mike Vail, the company offers an alternative to the hustle and bustle of the larger drop zones. Mike is the pilot and handles all of the equipment and technical responsibilities. His wife, Amy Vail, manages the business side of the operation.
For people who are already skilled in the art of survival, Skydive Lake Tahoe offers instruction on acrobatics and flying tricks. Though many people think you fall straight down, you can actually fly in every direction (except up) by changing the positioning of your body in space. Vail, one of the originators of free flying, will help advanced jumpers choreograph their airtime.
All first timers take a Tandem class on the day of the jump where you’ll learn the basics – like arching your back, thrusting your hips forward, and dropping your head back in preparation for the 120-mile per hour freefall. As a first timer, you’ll freefall for about one minute and sail under canopy for about five.
During the 15-minute plane ride, you’ll see Mount Lassen and Mount Shasta, still snow-covered at the end of June, as well as Lake Tahoe, Frenchman’s Reservoir, Lake Davis, The Sierra Valley, Reno, the Sierra Buttes, and the Feather River.
At 7,500 feet, the instructor connects your harness to his, verbalizing each of the four connection points as he goes. At a final altitude of approximately 10,000 feet, you’ll head for the door.
Once you are stabilized in the air, you can spread your arms out and soar. At 5,000 feet, the instructor pulls the ripcord, deploying the parachute (students can do this as well). You’ll get to hold the straps that guide the chute and experiment with steering and turning. As you approach the landing, you’ll pull your feet up and, depending on your weight and the air conditions, put your feet on the ground, and take a few steps before coming to a smooth stop back on earth, or slide in on your butt.
Safety is of paramount importance at Skydive Lake Tahoe. It is a United States Parachute Association (USPA) drop zone that follows all know safety standards and regulations. Every instructor at Skydive Lake Tahoe is licensed and rated by the USPA. Members of Skydive Lake Tahoe’s staff are national and world champions, internationally sought after skydiving instructors, as well as movie stunt men.
For $60, a photographer will jump with you to capture your jump on video or still photos, or $75 for both.
If you’re itching to take the plunge, listen to KRQZ radio for a chance to win a free jump. On August 23rd, Skydive Lake Tahoe in conjunction with KRZQ, the Resort at Squaw Creek, and several other sponsors, will host an afternoon party at the Resort. With the Reno reggae-rock band Livitz Livitz, jamming in the background on the ice rink, one DJ and one lucky winner will jump from the sky, landing on the Resort’s golf course. Bullwhackers will supply the drinks for an afternoon of merriment and freefall.
* To make a reservation, call 530-832-1474
* Skydive Lake Tahoe operates year-round, though peak season is from June through September.
* For more information on skydiving in general, go to http://www.uspa.org