Running a skydive plane takes a lot of fuel, usually around a gallon per person, per flight. The amount is negligent when compared to the rest of transportation for simple commuting, but it's still an obscene abuse of resources. So how is an environmentalist supposed to justify such an activity? Simple, like this:
Skydiving puts you in an amazing place in nature, experiencing extreme forces of nature. Your senses are overflooded, the wind resistance falling at 120 miles per hour is incredible power. You can't even hear yourself scream. Controlling the parachute is amazing, even the existence of such a device is engineering genius, and the sights are gorgeous. You can't really compare it to being at a sacred place on land, it's a different experience.
Psychologically, it forces you to take a look at yourself in the mirror. You have to face your fear to begin the skydive. When that plane door opens and you hear the roaring sound of wind rushing in, you start to feel very small. You have to push through that discomfort and confront the monster in the door. Looking at the space between you and the ground and climbing to the outside of the plane takes tremendous courage.
Once you jump, it's all about faith. Faith in your equipment, and faith in yourself that you have the abilities and mental soundness to save your own life. It's a source of great self understanding and self pride, to know yourself in such a fundamental way, and to battle with your own consciousness in such a way. I've never experienced anything else like it.
I feel that everyone should skydive at least twice. I'm glad that my first jump was strapped to someone else controlling the parachute, because I was too terrified to focus. I clutched my straps the whole way down. I told myself, "never again". It was the scariest thing I've ever done. After I landed, I felt almost weightless from the adrenaline still coursing through my body. Then I crashed out, my whole body felt weak for about 15 minutes. My legs didn't stop twitching for about an hour.
I decided to try it again for two reasons. The main reason was that I was even more scared to do it a second time, and facing my fears was the entire point. If I backed out then, it was like admitting to myself that I was defeated, that I was mentally weak, that I would never have the guts to face difficulties when everything was on the line. I signed up for solo training the next week and piloted the parachute myself for the first time. I was nervous the entire ride up to altitude, but landed my parachute feeling like I could go right back up and do it again.
The other reason I had to try it a second time, was the community. The new generation of skydivers are uniquely outgoing and expressive. They aren't just everyday people, and the culture is nothing like normal society. You have people from all walks of life, and people from all over the world, visiting all kinds of places to participate in this sport. Yet we share a kinship, every one of us is like family. We meet each other on different dropzones, sometimes for only a short while, but I will never forget any of my sky family.
Even after my first jump, I knew that these were awesome people to hang out with. But in order to hang, you gotta be able to hang! So I made it happen.
I really encourage everyone to try it if you get the chance, no matter the age, no matter whatever excuses you come up with for why it should not be done, aside from serious health concerns. Life is short, and this is one of the most amazing things humans have been able to do. Nothing is more worth it. It's spirit food.