I always wanted to go skydiving, jumping out of a plane through the clouds was always one of my action hero dreams, ever since I saw Keanu Reeves jump out of that plane in Point Break.
It was always on the bucket list, but it wasn’t something I was going to just seek out. Sometime last year, it was my room mate’s birthday, and she decided that she was going skydiving. It just so happened that the skydiving company offered discounts for group jumps, so naturally, I was the first port of call to boost the numbers. In a completely yolo moment, I agreed, and we booked the jump on the day between two of my final exams. TBH it was kind of good because I wasn’t particularly worried about dying if it meant I missed that exam. With this on my mind, I slept surprisingly well the night before the dive.
The morning of the dive was different though. We arrived and filled out the paperwork releasing the company of any liability if we died. Enough to fill you with confidence.
The butterflies began once we started getting into our overalls and strapping on the gear.
After a quick briefing on how to land without breaking our legs and some other unimportant stuff, the minibus pulled up to take us to the airport. Cue 20 min of listening to the diving instructors chat about all the guys they know who died doing extreme sports. I have to give it to the staff, they really know how to make you feel comfortable.
The airport was where my knees started weakening up. Once I saw the plane, however, things got better. You see, I love aircraft (when I was a kid I wanted to be a pilot, all the way up until I found out flying involves heaps of speed maths, which I am terrible at). Marveling at the plane totally took my mind off the fact I would soon be falling out of it.
Boarding the plane
I talked to an instructor as we hopped on the plane, and it turns out they have multiple parachutes, in case something goes wrong. One of these parachutes even deploys automatically at a certain height in the off chance they go unconscious.
So dying is actually pretty difficult, which was good to know.
My nerves started showing once we were in the plane
PROTIP – If you are a normal human being and are afraid of heights, get on the plane in the centre of the pack! This is because skydiving planes are quite cramped, and the order everyone packs in determines the order you jump out – which they don’t tell you until you’re already in. The first people to get on are the last people to jump, and have to watch everyone else go first, which is not good for your nerves. The last one on the plane is a rotten egg – the first one out, and you have to sit right at the jump door and hang half your body out in the sky as the instructor you’re strapped onto opens up the door.
We took off, and started climbing rapidly. After what seemed like 5 minutes, we were above the clouds and hyping up. Everyone in our group was starting to look visibly uncomfortable, and my gut was copping a pounding from those butterflies.
The view was nice, but I wasn’t exactly focusing on it at the time
Then, we hit the right height, and the pilot called out. As soon as the door opened, the severity of the situation dawned upon me. The people closest to the door shuffled on their butts over to the edge. It would’ve been funny if I wasn’t about to do it myself. With no retreat, and more jumpers pushing from behind, we started moving towards the door, watching everyone drop off into the void.
I swear there was a ‘shhhhhluurp’ sound as everyone got sucked out the door
It was time. We shuffled up to the door, and I hung my legs over the edge, feet up against the bottom of the plane. All I could hear was air rushing by. I looked down one last time and tucked my head back against the instructor’s shoulder, so I wouldn’t headbutt him in the chin. As soon my head touched his shoulder, I felt him shift his weight forward and we were gone.
‘Yep, that’s me. You’re probably wondering how I got into this situation.’
It’s hard to describe the experience, the first few seconds were complete terror, closely followed by a massive adrenalin rush. After 10 seconds, the height stops being relevant – you’re so absurdly high above the ground, fear no longer applies.
Its easier to explain with pictures.
Stage 1: Terror
Stage 2: ‘I’m not sure if I’m having fun yet’
Stage 3: The adrenaline kicks in
Stage 4: Bliss
The highlight of the jump was when we passed through a cloud! The cloud rushed towards us, like it was the ground. I braced and we sliced right through it, the air around us suddenly becoming freezing cold. My mouth, dry from screaming, was momentarily re-hydrated as I inhaled some cloud. I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced anything like it.
Moments later, the instructor pulled the chute, and we stopped quite abruptly.
The dive felt like it had gone on for minutes, and the parachuting stage felt like it took hours. This is where my fear of heights started to return. Now the ground was clearly visible, and instead of falling, I was hanging precariously above it. The parachute didn’t feel very trustworthy from below, especially when we executed a few massive turns, it felt like it was gonna deflate once we got sideways.
The instructor even let me steer for a bit!
After floating around for an eternity, we got to the point where the landing was fast becoming a reality. The instructor ripped us around with a few sharp turns, and steered us into a spin over the landing zone.
‘Remember to lift your legs, so you don’t break em’
The landing process involved a sharp drop in altitude, and we picked up a lot of speed, cruising mere metres above the ground. We came in hot, sliding across the grass on our asses.
We made it!
The whole crew had a similar experience, and everyone’s adrenaline was pumping. We walked to the nearest bar and debriefed. Eyes wide open, we exchanged stories and laughed all afternoon. The rush lasted long into the night, I felt so alive.
I totally recommend skydiving as a must to everyone. I don’t care if you’re afraid of heights – that makes it even more of a must, skydiving is about facing your (perfectly natural) fears.
I loved it so much, I ended up going again later that year for another mate’s birthday. Bloody group discounts.
Skydiving is one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had.
One day, I’m going to get my skydiving license and jump solo.
I want to fly.