I am currently participating in a “photo a day” challenge on facebook with some friends of mine. Basically we are given a different category every day and have to upload a picture around that theme. The other day the category was “from above” and I shared a picture of a skydive I had undertaken in Fiji in 2004. Reminding me of the experience has led me to this blog piece.
pic from 12000 feet the plane we went up in
In November 2004 myself and one of my best friends, Lisa, went on an extended holiday to meet other friends of ours that were on a year out travelling the world. They were on the last leg of their experience and we had opted to meet them in Fiji – somewhere I had always wanted to visit. Fiji was amazing and we were all very much caught up in the whole “once in a lifetime” type thing, knowing that it was highly unlikely we would ever return.
Whilst we were in Nadi, the capital of Fiji, we were having lunch when our friends were talking about the amazing skydive that they had done in New Zealand. Lisa mentioned that she liked the idea of doing a skydive and I thought it sounded incredible – the only thing that was standing in my way was the fact that I suffer badly with vertigo and I am absolutely petrified of heights. So surely I wouldn’t actually go through with jumping out of a plane thousands of feet up would I?
I don’t remember exactly how it came about, but the next thing was that we were in one of several “shops” that booked excursions and experiences and I was handing over several hundred pounds to a stranger for the highest jump they offered – then 12000 feet and 45 seconds of freefall. We knew nothing about the company that were going to provide the skydive, and I doubt we bothered with any insurance. We were 22 and I think we thought we were pretty much invincible.
I remember sitting in the lobby the next day, waiting to be picked up by the skydive firm. My belly was churning and my hands were clammy. I was beyond nervous. Our friends who had already done a skydive were coming with us for moral support. Once we reached the airfield we were told basic safety instructions and paired with an experienced skydive instructor. When we discovered that the instructor that was paired with Lisa only had one leg it was hysterical – luckily for us he didn’t lose it in a skydiving accident!!!
The realisation hits! Preparing to jump @ 12000 feet
The plane was tiny – there was literally only space for the 4 of us to sit cramped on the floor. In the front was the pilot and a camerawoman that would be jumping with us to film the experience (for me), whilst Lisa’s instructor had a videocamera on his wrist. Lisa went first and I watched her disappear from view. Then it was my turn and I couldn’t focus on anything. I crossed my arms over my chest like we were told and in the next breath we were flying!
11000 feet up on top of the world!
Throwing your arms out to create drag, you really do feel like you are flying. You are looking straight out at the horizon rather than straight down. The land mass below me in the pictures is Fiji, but the round lens makes it look like we are soaring above the earth.
At the same time it is both loud and eerily quiet. It is peaceful and yet utterly enthralling. I can easily see why people get addicted to both the adrenaline rush it brings, and the beauty of seeing the world from this way.
I’m not sure how high we were when my instructor pulled the chute, but sailing down towards the earth was amazing, landing well on a sandy area on Denarau Island. It was incredible that we were able to jump in just a vest and shorts with no need for special equipment.
holding hands with the camera woman
The adrenaline rush stayed with us for several days afterwards – particularly when the company dropped off our dvds of the experience. I decided not to tell my mum and dad about it. Instead, when I got home several weeks later I opted to show them a “dvd of Fiji”. Their reaction was priceless!
Oh my god I did it!
Aside from having my family, I maintain that the skydive is one of the best things I have ever done and if you get the opportunity to do one then grab it with both hands, you will not regret it!
Skydive Fiji still operate. You can find more information on their website: http://www.skydivefiji.com.fj/tandem-skydiving