Tandem Thrill… My Very First Skydiving Experience
Tandem is bizarre, really…
As for me it seemed like a thing to do to increase your chances of dying before you die. However, I think the pull towards skydiving is the feeling of flying and human kind has always had a fascination with flying.
Anyway, quite recently I decided to take the plunge (quite literally) and signed myself up for my first sky dive. However, I was spurred on by the fact that I was doing a sponsored jump to raise money; and had chosen breast cancer as my favored charity.
Myself and a couple of friends opted for a tandem jump for the first experience. Therefore, this is where you are literally fastened by a harness to the front of an experienced skydiving instructor… So you don’t really have to do that much ; well, that’s if you don’t count leaping out of an aeroplane at 10,000 feet that much.
It was surprising to me that the preparation before the jump only took around 40 minutes
First we watched a short video about the tandem parachute jump; and I have to say this served mainly to cause my stomach to go into repeated somersaults.
Rather worryingly we signed some legal waiver papers that absolved the instructor, the aeroplane the owner and a few others of any responsibility in the case of accident or death. This, more than anything else made me question my sanity; and really struck home the reality of leaping out of an aeroplane strapped to a random stranger.
I have Celiac Disease
I felt like I had just eaten a heavily gluten-laden meal, if you get my drift!
Then it was time to meet my instructor
Moreover, Ted was the guy whom I was trusting with my very life. The tandem instructor also known as a tandem master will have made at least 500 jumps; undergone an extremely intense training program and had over 3 years of parachuting experience.
So we arrive at the drop zone and enter a giant hanger with equipment, harnesses and parachutes all over the place. However, I am fitted into my harness and I’m telling you ; those things are tight and not very comfortable at all. Nonetheless, they are a bit like a rock climbing harness; also, the subsequent wedgie and breathing difficulties did nothing for my anxiety levels. There are 4 connection points whereby you are literally hooked up to your instructor during the jump; two at the shoulders and two at the hips.
However, the tandem master ran through the different body positions that we would need to employ at all stages of the jump and the signals he will give ; a tap on the shoulder. The positioning sounded quite basic, arms crossed over the chest, head back and knees bent up in a sort of U-shape. The instructor will then tap your shoulder to indicate you can open your arms for the free fall and finally a bent knee position in preparation for landing.
The parachuting equipment and safety information were explained to us
Most of us first timers are beyond nervous now as the time to actually board the small plane was fast approaching.
The parachute used in tandem skydiving is strapped to the instructor; and is especially designed to safely carry two people. The instructor normally releases the parachute at around 5,500 feet. The reserve chute is a further safety measure in case the main parachute does not open and this is automatically activated at around 2,000 feet.
The more information that was given the more terrified I became
I felt slightly surreal as we were goggled up and ready to go walking to board the aeroplane that would fly us to the drop zone.
We got into the plane, and comparatively speaking, it was quite a large one there were about 15 of us. I would like to say that I enjoyed the 15 minute flight. But I can hardly remember a thing due to adrenaline levels being through the roof.
However, I was sitting in front of Ted and we were all packed in. Nonetheless, I remember him attaching me to his harness and just over 10,000 feet we did a shuffling waddle towards the door.
At the door of the plane was the scariest time for me
Moreover, I automatically crossed my arms and lifted my feet, head back on Ted’s shoulder and hung there. Yes, just hung there. Halfway through a prayer in my head to whomever may be listening, we were dropping through the air in first sky dive.
The free fall experience is quite indescribable
Only for a brief moment did I feel any sense of falling and by the time I’d registered that we were in the air the feeling was more like flying or floating. The noise of the wind was amazing and as Ted tapped my shoulder to open my arms it was sheer bliss.
However, the free fall is under 60 seconds as you drop through the air at around 120 mph; it was truly awesome. Next thing I knew was a sharp jerk and a sensation of being lifted up as the chute opened. Furthermore, I think the ride to the ground was only around 5 minutes and the amazing view combined with a sense of relief gave me a feeling of pure exhilaration.
As the ground approached and we touched down I was surprised at how gentle the landing was. No jarring or sprained ankles at all.
Moreover, Tandem skydiving can be done by complete beginners to experience the thrill of skydiving for the first time or as part as an Accelerated Free Fall skydiving course.
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