Editor’s Note: On all dive certifications, we try to edit the writing as little as possible to preserve authenticity, personality, and writing style. We typically fix spelling errors, but minimally modify grammar and sentence structure (just enough to ensure readability).
1. When and Why Did You Decide to Pursue This Dive At This Level? What was your inspiration and motivation?
So what did I do?
I went sky diving of course!
At first, I just did the tandem dive. But I found it fascinating (albeit scary) and decided to enroll in their sky dive training program, which started with a 6-hour ground school course. At the time, I was living in NY, and I found a place called Skydive The Ranch. It was a 2.5 hour drive each way. Long haul. I did it for a while, and made 5 jumps total, even getting to the point where I would jump with my own parachute and without the instructor holding me. But I was still heartbroken. And while it's true you can't be depressed when falling from the sky, you absolutely can be on a lonely 2.5-hour drive back home with no one to talk to. So I gave it up. Not only didn't it result in me getting over this girl, but it was expensive, costing about $150 per training jump.
While I technically did my first skydive in 2012, for the purpose of this dive certification, I am going to be discussing my first dive since then. I'll explain why I got back into it, and how I found the money.
2. How Long Did It Take For You To Accomplish This Dive At This Level From The Day You Decided To Pursue It, And Why Did It Take That Long?
I heard from some people that sky diving was somehow different. I wanted to try it. But I never found the impetus... until the love of my life left. That was enough to get me to do something crazy.
But it's been 10 years since I first went. Why did I abandon it for so long?
Well, I knew for a long time that I again wanted to skydive. And I had always wanted to earn my A level license, which would allow me to jump from any drop zone in the world by myself. It was on my bucket list.
In 2015, I returned to the USA from teaching in China for a year. I amassed a lot of credit card debt from traveling here, there, and everywhere in asia. It was a bit disconcerting as a looked at my credit card bill. I vowed I would never again use credit cards for discretionary reasons, and I vowed I would save up for anything I wanted to buy. And I succeeded.
By 2020, my credit card debt was zero, and it still is today. And I found some great apps like Digit that have helped me become a savings king. So in addition to many other savings accounts, I started saving up to continue my helicopter lessons ($12,000) and to get my Skydiving A license ($300). In May of 2022 (last month), I had saved up $1500 for my helicopter lessons, and another $1500 for skydiving. I still had a long way to go for the skydiving license, and a lifetime it seemed for the helo license.
Well, about 3 weeks ago, I asked my students in my class at EF (I teach a business class here in Miami Beach to foreign students) to write down 3 things they would be doing over the weekend to improve their lives. One of them, Renzo, from Peru, said he was taking a 6-hour skydiving class. A rush of adrenaline rushed through my veins. "Wait, so you already did the first tandem?" "Yes!" he replied.
Before I knew it, I was in the car with him that Saturday going back to a drop zone (again 2 hours away) to redo the 6-hour class, and get back in the skies. I looked at my savings accounts and realized it was going to be a really long time before I could continue my helo lessons. So I decided to use my helicopter funds to make my skydiving A license a reality.
Verdict: I had the $3,000 I needed AND I had someone who could keep me company on the drive there and back.
3. What Was The Hardest Part About Achieving This Particular Dive Level?
First, I didn't want to use debt financing again and get into a credit card fiasco once more, and I also really wanted to do it with someone else. I didn't want to make that long drive by myself to a drop zone, and then make that same long drive back all by myself.
Second, it's scary! I won't lie. Exhilarating, yes. Wild, yes. Fun, yes. But also scary. And there's nothing 'wimpy' about being honest about that. Jumping out of an airplane... is weird! The ascent in the plane. The door opening around 14K feet. Moving towards the door. And those first couple of seconds jumping out. It's all quite surreal, and it take a lot of getting used to.
But going back to the very first skydive I made in 2012---the hardest part, for me, was that drive home for 2 hours afterwards. I still felt the adrenaline in my body, and my legs were still wobbly, but... the pain from losing this girl was so strong that it couldn't even be overpowered by the adrenaline racing through my veins.
4. What Was The Easiest Part About Achieving This Particular Dive Level?
On your very first skydive, you do nothing. It's super easy. The instructor even does the jumping out of the plane, and you just go for the ride. The instructor pulls the parachute, and even flies the canopy for you if you want.
All you need to get started is about $200 and the 'balls' to go do it.
If I compare the very first skydive I did in 2012 with the tandem I did 3 weeks ago (I basically had to start over, starting with tandem jump # 2), it was a LOT easier and a LOT less scary. I didn't feel the pit in my stomach as much in the plane; I wasn't as scared when the door opened; I did the count and jumped out, taking the instructor with me. Basically: with each dive, you will get more and more comfortable.
5. What Is Your Advice For Someone Who Is Pursuing This Dive And Level?
If you can't find a friend to go with you, go anyway, just like I did.
If it's something you really fall in love with, start saving up the $3000 you'll need to get your A license. If you're financially fortunate enough to be able to pay up front right now, do so, because then you'll have the accountability you need to keep going and finish the course.
6. What Are Some Of The Best Resources You Recommend to Those Pursuing This Dive At This Level, And Why Do You Recommend Them? Please Include Relevant Weblinks, If Applicable.
And here are some others:
Resource 1: Break Diving's Skydiving Club - We've got skydivers on BreakDiving. Guess what? I'm one of them! Come talk to us.
Resource 2: US Parachute Association - Find a local dropzone, read the licensing level requirements, and get informed!
Resource 3: Skydive Spaceland - Florida - This is where I am getting my A license. It's in Clewiston Florida.
Resource 4: Skydive The Ranch - New York - This is where I first went skydiving after that horrible breakup.
Resource 5: My YouTube Channel - I post my skydive videos on here. Come check out my Skydive With Monroe playlist.
7. Tell Us A Story Of One Of Your Adventures While Pursuing This Dive (At This Level).
This is why every skydiver will tell you: "The scariest part is in the airplane." Everything else is a breeze.
OK, maybe 'breeze' is an exaggeration.
But the point is: don't be scared. The instructors are all top-notch. Something I learned last week during my STP 1 training dive (first jump with own parachute) is that the tandem instructors are actually 'pilots'. Literally. They have FAA pilot's licenses because they have A PASSENGER. When the canopy opens, the instructor must safely land the canopy.
So take a deep breath and DO THIS.
You'll be so proud of yourself when you do.
8. What Evidence Did You Submit to Prove You Met the Requirements for This Dive and Level?
That's me! Standing outside the airplane at 14,000 feet.
Does that prove I jumped? No. But that's the thumbnail to my YouTube video that shows the full jump. Go check it out.
Here's the link: https://youtu.be/cw8Jwpm5tT0
9. Will You Be Pursuing The Next Level For This Dive? If Yes, Why? If Not, Why Not?
I already meet this level criteria, since I now have a total of 8 dives. 3 have been tandem. 5 have been with my own parachute.
The level after that is: "Licensed as an A-Level skydiver by the USPA, or comparable with 25 jumps." So that's my main project for the summer: to reach 25 jumps, pass all the levels, and earn my A license!
After that (yikes), I have to start saving up to buy my own parachute system, and that's about $7,000. One step at a time.k :D
10. What is the Break Diver's Creed?
Gosh, I really love certifying these dives! I feel so inspired and happy and accomplished after doing so!
And having made this post, and provided adequate evidence to the dive committee, Monroe Mann is now hereby certified by Break Diving, Inc. as: Adventurer - Sky Diver - Level 1. Congratulations ! Thank you for being an inspiration to others!
Certificate number: 100
The author above wrote this WYSEguidance post as one of the certification requirements to become certified by Break Diving, Inc. for a dive completed. Would you also like to find greater success, happiness, and friendship, and make genuine supportive connections with others around the world pursuing your same dreams? Come join us at Break Diving and soon your story will be the next one you read about on this site!Read More Stories on the WYSEguidance Homepage