Before becoming an employee here at SVNH, I was a customer. I was an awkward pre-teen who was so intimidated by the thought of indoor skydiving! Fast-forward ten years; I have now been an SVNH employee for one year. Flying in the tunnel and surfing the barrel wave have become normality, and I am now working on improving my skills rather than just trying to stay on the board for a few seconds, or flying without bouncing off every wall in the tunnel. Although I have become better at the activities here, there are a few things I wish I would’ve known before I tried them:
RELAX – When I first began surfing and flying I really needed to loosen up. I went stiff as soon as I entered the tunnel or hopped on the wave and this wouldn’t allow me to get a feel for the wind in the tunnel, or the board when surfing. If I had loosened up and relaxed a bit sooner, I would have been able to excel much faster.
Wear a skullcap – I highly recommend any girls with long hair to purchase a skullcap or put their hair in a very tight bun or braid before getting into the tunnel. Unless you want to brush your hair out for an hour after flying, or put an entire bottle of conditioner into your hair, then take this into consideration.
I wish I started younger – I received this answer from one of our tunnel instructors, Ed. He said that he wishes he had started younger so that he could be a better flyer now. It’s amazing to see all of the kids that come in for Kids Camp here. They are pretty much prodigies and I can’t imagine how good they will be 5-10 years from now.
Take a chance – This is an important one if you are really working on skills with flying or surfing. Without taking a chance, you will never know if you can make that transition from back fly to sit fly, or finally load yourself on the board. Don’t be afraid to take the chance!
Watch the playback of your flight and purchase a DVD – It would have been so helpful if I had started doing this earlier! Without watching your playback, you don’t truly get to see what you are doing incorrectly. Your instructor may tell you to do something, such as bend your knees more, and you may think you are doing it when you really aren’t. The playback and DVD allow you to watch yourself and see what you are really doing, and it enables you to correct yourself.
Remember, everyone messes up – I was always so worried of messing up in the tunnel or wiping out on the wave, but then I remembered… everyone messes up – even the instructors! You learn from your mistakes, and it is important to know that.
Wear a rash guard and shorts when surfing – As a girl, I learned that it is better to be safe then worry when it comes to attire for surfing.
Don’t be afraid to ask instructors a question – For some reason, when I was beginning, I did not ask the instructors questions. One thing I have learned is that all the instructors here are passionate about teaching and love to help people with flying or surfing. They are incredibly knowledgeable about what they do and it can benefit anyone to ask a few questions.
Smile for the camera! – A picture says a thousand words! It is definitely worth it to flash a smile at the camera to capture the moment. I understand how difficult it is to take a break from focusing on flying and surfing, but it is truly worth it to know where the camera is and smile.
Keep your chin up – Whether you are flying or going about your daily life, it is important to keep your chin up! (In the case of tunnel flying – literally!) If you mess up in the tunnel or while you are surfing, just keep trying your best, and I promise, it will get better!