Jumping right in is what Colburn finds attractive | TheUnion.com

Jumping right in is what Colburn finds attractive

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The side door of the single engine Cessna slid open at 14,000 feet, and Perry Colburn had a decision to make.

The soon-to-be-first-time skydiver could chicken out – and who could blame him? Or he could swallow the heart which had no doubt found its way into his throat and take the plunge.

“When you first get on the plane, everything is foreign to you. You see people with all of their parachutes on, and all of their equipment, and when you going up to altitude, you watch as the ground slowly disappears. All of these things play on your consciousness,” the 54-year-old Grass Valley resident said.

With his adrenal glands churning, Colburn and his instructor – who were attached by a tandem harness – edged their way to the door.

“You can be as macho as you want, but as soon as that door opens and you look out, you get a whole different sense of being,” Colburn said. “It was one of those things where you hope everything goes according to plan, because there is no Plan B.”

The pair leaned forward and let gravity do the rest.

“The first time you skydive, you see it through a pinhole. It’s literally sensory overload,” Colburn said. “It was surreal.”

That was all it took. He was hooked.

The only thing on his mind the next three days and four nights was where and when his next jump would be.

He found himself parked outside the Sky Dance drop zone outside of Davis the following Monday before sunrise waiting for the staff to show up.

Two and a half years and 349 jumps later, Colburn is still at it.

“Usually, most people know after that first jump if they want to pursue it or not. Many people make that first jump and are just glad they made it through. They have an experience that will last a lifetime, but they’re pretty much done after that. Then there is the small percentage of us who go for their first or second skydive and realize it’s something we’d like to learn. After that first weekend, I knew it was something I wanted to pursue.”

His love of skydiving has taken him across the world and back.

Last November he and his wife made the trip down under to New Zealand for a vacation packed with sightseeing and skydiving.

Three days after they landed, they got their hands on a helicopter.

“That crazy old pilot took us up to 13,600 feet, and that’s unheard of for a helicopter. They usually go up to 4,000 to 5,000 feet tops, because it’s really hard to maneuver a helicopter up that high,” Colburn said. “It was a beautiful day, you can see for 70 to 80 miles when you’re up that high. So, my wife and I stepped out on the struts, smiled at each other and stepped off. It was an awesome feeling.”

Two months later Colburn found himself back in the land of the kiwi bird and silver fern.

“I went back to take care of some business, and as a fluke went to see one of my friends who was in the New Zealand Skydiving Nationals. He was registering and one of his teammates couldn’t make it until late afternoon. In order to qualify for the four-way team competition, he dragged me in; and it was a great surprise to me, because I was terribly under-qualified to be part of this thing,” Colburn said.

He was thrown in among a group with thousands of jumps between them, but he held his own.

“I was able to get in there and keep up with kids who were in their 20s and were basically award-winning skydivers. We actually pulled it off to the point where we took second place,” Colburn said. “That was the icing on the cake for me because the last thing I ever expected to do was skydive, let alone win a silver medal in the New Zealand Nationals.”

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