So it was a day like no other, why not try something different yet not so crazy at the same time, why not go skydiving? There is a parachute center not too far off north Cambridge (about 50km) which offer runway and skydiving services. Here people of all ages and experience come here for dives using the parachute center’s planes for “the lift”, so technically anyone here who is a certified sky diver can hop on the plane and jump off throughout the day. For me and my friends without any prior experience, we will be doing tandem dives.
It costs about £250 for a tandem dive, which involves you being strapped to an senior instructor who will be doing the jump. He or she will train you before boarding the plane on the proper techniques of jumping, like exiting the plane, what to do in a jump how to regulate airflow/speed and what to do in emergencies. Your instructor is very much your lifeline and the one who call the shots during the jump.
Apparently my tandom instructor had been jumping for decades and this is easily over his 10 thousandth jump to date. So as I learnt. Despite this being a tandem jump, the experience is the same as jumping out by yourself and not strapped to another 100 odd kg guy behind you. The best part of the dive is the acceleration you get for first 3 seconds after you leave the plane. You get this awesome feeling of the rapid acceleration no other roller-coaster can mimic on the drop phase, only this time you are exposed to the elements with the world spining all around you. And no, there are no bars to hold onto like on a roller coaster. 😛
You get this somewhat disorientating spin, seeing the horizon all around you as you leap off the plane, just like the rush of sea water all around you when you do a back-flip off a boat while scuba diving- you take a few seconds to get your orientation right and open up your arms to start the decent proper. Here is where you adopt the “trademark” arms and legs open stance so as to get the maximum drag of air around your body. Close your arms in to speed up the dive and vice-versa. upon reaching terminal velocity, all you can is this feel of constant wind rushing past you and the warm sun in your face at peace with the world.
It’s not long after (about 20-30 seconds) where you reach the below the 10,000 ft mark to start to pull the chute, the altitude is read from a wrist worn altimeter. Here you will start the long gliding decent down back to earth. The instructor and myself did some rather interesting mid air stunts, such as spins and barrel rolls with our more maneuverable rectangles chute. Generally 6 consecutive spins is somewhat manageable until you pull so much Gs (feeling extremely heavy) off your harness it feel really scary thinking your carabiners might just rip off your chute at any time! Here “walking on air” is really true, seldom can you see nothing between your feet and just the ground thousand off feet below you.
It’s not long where we did a circle for a proper approach and decent to the landing fields, we did a sliding landing we stick both our legs forward and slide on our buttocks on the forward. This is generally recommended for heavier tandem landings and lower risk of possibility breaking your legs on a too fast decent.
And excellent jump. Come to think about it, now the number of plane take-offs and landings for me now will never ever match for now. 😛
You can view more photos of the jump here.