FLYING HIGH ABOVE OCEANSIDE
Tsunami Skydivers, Inc., opens today at Municipal Airport for novice jumpers and those with experience
Saturday, July 14, 2012
Oceanside — Over the past seven years, Rich Grimm has taken hundreds of people to skydive in Belize. In March he assembled a group of more than 200 for the first-ever civilian skydiving event in Nicaragua.
Now he’s bringing the action to Oceanside.
“It will be the closest drop zone to a beach in Southern California,” Grimm said. “It will be a great view and great climate to skydive in. Our free-fall will be fantastic.”
Grimm’s Tsunami Skydivers, Inc., will open today at the Oceanside Municipal Airport, offering tandem jumps for novices, as well as solo jumps for experienced skydivers.
“Most people who jump become hooked,” Grimm said. “For experienced skydivers it becomes a way of life.”
Grimm should know. Now a retired firefighter, he made his first jump in 1980 at 20 years old. Since then, he has made thousands of jumps.
“People have a preconceived notion of how it’s going to feel, that it’s like a rollercoaster and your stomach goes into your throat,” he said. “But that doesn’t happen. You’re in sensory overload, but it almost feels like you’re suspended, not falling. You can’t feel that you’re going 120 miles an hour through the sky.”
But that doesn’t mean skydivers aren’t thrill seekers. Grimm announced a sky dive opportunity he had designed into Belize’s Great Blue Hole in 2005. Over an eight-year period, he annually accompanied more than 100 skydivers to Belize to jump into a spot near the 400-foot aquatic sinkhole, and then switch gear to scuba dive the hole.
“It was pretty unnerving — full of sharks, and we were jumping in with big colorful lures on our backs,” Grimm said. “Those events became legendary.”
Janet Lundquist and her husband, Fred, went on three of the Blue Hole trips. They each have thousands of jumps under their belt, but the chance to combine skydiving with scuba was the fulfillment of a dream for them.
“My husband had always talked about doing a jump and then a scuba dive, but we hadn’t found anything until Rich came along,” she said. “Rich is just one of those guys who makes things happen. He doesn’t take no for an answer.”
When condos went up in the Belize landing area, prohibiting future jumps there, Grimm turned his attention to opening his skydiving operation in Southern California. Oceanside Airport was at the top of his list because he had jumped there years ago, and he knew a skydiving business had operated there in the late ’90s.
“It took two years, but we finally have everything straightened out,” Grimm said about working with Oceanside airport management. “The Oceanside tourism stakeholders are really behind this effort. We have such a nice location here that skydivers are going to want to come here from around the world and stay in the city, eat at the restaurants and buy gas.”
New skydivers will watch a 10-minute video and learn basic instruction before loading into a new 15-passenger airplane with new diving gear. At 13,000 feet, they will be paired with a tandem skydive instructor, who has a minimum of 8,000 dives. The instructor will maneuver the parachute through landing, allowing learners to fly the parachute mid-dive if they choose. The whole jump takes just a few minutes. Anyone over age 18, under 240 pounds and in reasonably good health can do it.
Grimm said he recognizes that skydiving is portrayed as “scary” but that there is really little shock, with no jerky motions or snaps. And unlike the lore, few people fail to jump and instead return with the airplane.
“We don’t force anyone out,” he said with a laugh. “But 99.999 percent of people who make a tandem skydive fall in love with it and think it’s the greatest thing they’ve ever done.”
Tsunami Skydivers will be open Thursdays through Sundays plus Monday holidays from 9 a.m. until sunset, weather permitting. Cost is $200 for a tandem skydive. Grimm said Tsunami will eventually offer jumps for experienced skydivers from 18,000 feet.
For more information, call (760) 390-JUMP or go to www.tsunamiskydivers.com. SOURCE