When I was young I had this wild fascination about Aero-planes and it wasn’t so much about the invention itself than it was about how it felt to soar freely like a bird overlooking vast tracts of land and sea that lay beneath. As I grew up, I only got to realize that the closest I could get to flying was by skydiving, tandem jumping to be precise. Apparently tandem jumping is only an entry level to a whole world of skydiving and it’s safe to say that minimal training is required.
It wasn’t until I went for skydiving when I registered that there was more to skydiving than basically climbing an aero plane and landing through the parachute. First and foremost there was the weather; a skydiving expedition could easily be rescheduled due to miscellaneous reasons. Then there was signing the waiver, followed by a 5 minute training and finally the adrenaline; free falling for a full minute from 14000 ft.
The day is a Saturday. The weather is arguably favorable for a perfect skydiving session. The sky is blue, sunny and partly cloudy. The neighborhood bustles with little activity as we maneuver our way to our skydiving destination, Diani. Mind you, Ukunda airstrip is just 10 minutes shy from the beach which makes up for a reliable and convenient trip back and forth. We are met by a warm reception at the hotel and momentarily taken through the safety rules and regulations. What follows next is signing the waiver that strips the tandem of any liability in the event of any mishap – injury or death.
Next to me sits my diary, my bucket list well outlined in the tenth or so page. I am about to tick something off my bucket list. Anxious and equally thrilled because one hand am about to toss my life away in the unfortunate, unlikely event that say, the parachute doesn’t open and on the other, I finally get to be feel like an uncaged bird. To finally be free.
From where I am sited I could see a couple of people take off and land in parachutes, a scenery that only seemed to exacerbate my impatience for the same experience.
Shortly, my name is called and an Instructor who introduces himself as Kevin comes over with what looks like a jumpsuit. I strap myself up and as soon as am done, he briefs me on what I would like to call a 5 minute skydiving training. One tap on the shoulder meant to open your arms, knees should be bent for landing, arms remain crossed during the jump and brought to the chest as soon as the parachute is let out.
Let’s fly away.
Within the next 15 minutes I found myself at the boarding area ready to take off. Twenty minutes later basically translates to being 14000 ft. in the air. Suffice to say that the view was breathtaking but not as breathtaking as it would be once I went in for the jump.
60 seconds free-fall.
Describing the first few seconds of the fall, I would say it was mostly blurry. Mostly because of the sensual overload but as soon as we attained a terminal velocity the feeling was exhilarating. The rush of adrenaline coursed through my body as I accelerated through at around 120 miles per hour. For a moment, I felt like I owned the world. It was scary to think that I was that high above the ground and the falling sensation was taking over me but that feeling was immediately taken over by a deep sense of freedom, peace, achievement and of immense beauty as I marveled at the beauty of the world.
Parachute and Landing.
It was almost a minute after the free fall that my instructor launched the parachute and navigated towards the drop zone. The parachute ride took about 8 minutes and the landing was incredibly smooth and easy. Words alone are inadequate to capture the experience of going for a tandem jump which is why Adrenaline Adventures insist on experiencing it on a personal level. This only serves as a snapshot of what it entails to go for this expedition. All the same, I had the experience of a lifetime; thrilling, exhilarating, nerve racking and totally mind boggling. One activity down, many more to go.
Below are some fun Facts about skydiving.
- Jay Stokes holds the record for the most skydives done in one calendar day. 640
- Tandem gear is equipped with an AAD – Automatic Activation Device. Invented by a German Skydiver following a loss of a friend after he failed to deploy his parachute in time.
- Skydivers don’t all fall at the same time
- Skydiving photographers control their camera with their mouth
- 400 skydivers made a formation once.