I have always been afraid of heights. I get vertigo while trekking along ravines and being on high places. However, when I learned of people doing sky dive at an early age, I promised myself that I have to do it one day. I have written "sky dive" as one of my "to do" list under my adventure wish list. Since then, every time I ride the airplane during business trips, I always look out the window and wonder how it feels like to jump out of it.
Yohann and I decided to spend two weeks in New Zealand for our holidays. I knew this was the perfect opportunity to do it. Grab each opportunity by the balls for it may never come back, is what I always tell myself when fear sets in at the thought of heights.
Last March 31, 2007 was the D-day. As we left Wellington on the way to Taupo aboard Kiwi Experience Bus, I never thought we'd immediately go straight to the Airport for the skydive. I wasn't prepared at all. I was hoping I'd do it the next day. There were only three of us from the bus who'd be free falling at that time. It was myself and 2 Danish guys. All 3 of us and my hubby were dropped off at the airport while the rest of the backpackers headed straight to the Youth Hostels.
It was a tandem skydive from 12,000 feet over Lake Taupo and the Central Plateau Volcanoes. I was told this is the best and cheapest place to do a skydive all over New Zealand. I have requested for a camera guy to film during the jump.
I had been lucky so far since for the last 3 days, we had learned that it had been raining hard in Taupo so there were no skydiving activity for the last few days. When we arrived, it was a perfect sunny afternoon, blue sky with minimum clouds.
I watched a short video of the sky dive along with my hubby and the 2 Danish guys, Andreas and Morten. I started feeling nervous. Chatted a bit with 2 more Swedish girls after that. We started suiting up and gearing up afterwards. The guys were asked to board the plane immediately. I was assigned to join the other group of 2 German girls-- Luise and Vanessa and 2 German guys-- Johannes and Fabian, who were all travelling together. They were friendly and we started chatting to take our mind off the anxiety.
We geared up and met our tandem partners. Mine was Charley from the U.S. who lives in NZ. He's a professional sky diver. I've learned that they jump about 12 times a day. Wow! What an exciting job! The rest of the group were doing 15,000 feet. Since I was the only one jumping at 12,000 feet, I was the first to jump out of the plane. Charley briefed me on what to do during the jump and what position I have to do from the time we leave the plane. He made sure that I eased up and was constantly conversing to distract me from freaking out as our plane took off. I sat beside the airplane door which was much more of a see-through shutter. They didn't close the door when we took off, so I was quite scared that I might fall off the plane because I was not strapped to anything. Fortunately, then finally did and I relaxed a bit.
At that time, it felt normal. It reminded me of my plane rides during business trips wondering how it feels like to jump out of it. Then I've realized, I'm actually doing it! During the plane ride which felt like eternity, I felt numb. I couldn't feel anything. When I saw that we were already 10,000 feet above the ground and the houses below have become so small, I started feeling butterflies in my stomach. I said to myself, "Oh my god, it's for real. What have you gotten yourself into?"
I knew it was 12,000 feet when Charley strapped me to him and tied my hair under my cap. He wished me luck and said, "Enjoy the jump." Uh oh Here we go. The camera guy lifted the shutter and jumped out.
Charley positioned me out of the plane. Imagine yourself seated on the lap of the skydiver hanging out of the plane, feeling the strong wind pulling you down. Before I started counting, he already jumped and at the moment, I didn't know where the earth and the sky was.
The wind was so strong that I couldn't breathe. It was 45 seconds free fall at 200 km/hour without the parachute. I was certain that I was falling at an incredible speed, but the strong wind allows me to feel like I'm floating. My mouth felt dry as I gasped for air. I was strongly holding on to my strap and in midair, I tried to spread my arms and enjoyed falling from the sky.
It was amazing! It was an extraordinary experience! Terrific rush! It was such a great feeling. I'm facing my fear head on.
At a certain height, Charley opened his parachute which lifted us up. At that moment, I enjoyed the magnificent aerial view of the lake, the plateaus,and the Taupo landscape. We moved around in circles to speed us up and that spinning was scary, yet it felt weirdly good at the same time. We smoothly glided in the air before a gentle and perfect landing.
I was filled with extreme happiness having done that. I wanted to do it again. I'd have to do a 15,000 feet jump next time with my Hubby. And who knows, I might learn to do it on my own.
Interested? Contact Details as follows:
Great Lake Skydive Centre, Taupo
Anzac, Memorial Drive, Taupo Airport
Taupo New Zealand
Tel: +64 7 378 4662