For many of us, skydiving is right at the top of the bucket list. So when Olena Kagui was given the opportunity, she jumped, literally, at the chance. Here is her account of the extraordinary day.
Jumping out of a plane at two kilometres (10,500 feet) is on many people’s bucket lists. I finally took the plunge, or should I say free fall.
After an hour-long video on the warnings of worst-case scenarios, I was one of many people who decided to sign away our legal rights.
It was a fantastic experience, and I’m so glad I did it. If you are considering going skydiving, here’s what you should know!
The Dangers of Skydiving
Any skydiving adventure begins with a warning. Although most people who do it live to tell the tale, there are fatalities and life-changing accidents that can happen.
It is common to hear that skydiving is safer than driving. The numbers claim that there are 0.058 skydiving fatalities per day in the USA vs 96 driving fatalities.
Numbers don’t lie, but it is important to keep in mind that a lot more people drive than skydive. Also, driving is essential to get around, while skydiving is an optional activity for thrill-seekers.
Due to the obvious dangers that come with skydiving, you will have to sign waivers.
Plus, you may need to watch a video featuring lawyers explaining the legal consequences of signing the waiver.
Before the Jump
After the video and waiver signing comes the waiting game. I was one of six people jumping, and we were called in groups to get our gear on and get instructions.
The instructional part was way shorter than expected, lasting just a minute or two.
Depending on where you go, the wait may be longer or shorter. In my case, it was pretty long and had me sitting on a bench with horrific skydiving accidents running through my head.
Also, before the jump, you can opt to pay extra for videos and photos of your jump.
There was an option for having someone jump out of the plane and capture your experience in third person. There was also a handheld camera to capture everything up close and personal.
I ended up getting both which was overkill, but I don’t regret it.
Although I love the shots I got from the third person option; I do feel like the hand-cam did capture everything well.
Keep in mind that you will not look pretty in every shot, especially during free fall.
They do not let you bring your own camera unless you are an experienced skydiver with a specific number of jumps. Your instructor controls the hand-cam.
On the Plane Going Up
I was terrified from the moment we got to the skydiving place, but I felt the most fear when we were on the plane. The tiny planes are fast, loud, and super turbulent.
You can expect to be sitting strapped to your instructor with a flimsy seat belt attached to your harness in the plane.
The good thing about being so scared is that you forget how awkward it is to be strapped to a stranger’s lap.
It was only a few minutes between take-off with a very shaky ascent at a 45-degree angle before we reached the jumping altitude of two kilometres or 10,500 feet.
Some skydiving companies go almost twice as high for the jump.
While in the plane, the instructor will keep reminding you what to do. The great thing is that the instructions are simple, and your instructor can help you if you forget.
The main thing is to arch your back and have your arms and legs in the correct position. This position is really easy to get into and comes naturally once you jump out.
During the Jump
The moment the door opens, most people’s minds go blank.
I was grateful that it was fast, and within a minute of moving from my seat, we were out of the plane.
I remember being worried about being upside down, which I think happens to everyone.
The good news is that it isn’t scarier to be upside down or right side up at that altitude.
So many people talk about free fall as a magical experience. Personally, I was too busy struggling to breathe to enjoy it. Free fall lasts up to 45 seconds on average.
When my photographer came up to take photos, I wasn’t even able to smile at him.
This is apparently normal, but some people catch their breath faster and manage to enjoy it more.
My husband recalls how cold he felt, but even though I was dressed less warmly, I was too distracted to notice.
Do keep clothes in mind before you go.
The moment the parachute opened, I felt much better. I did need the instructor to loosen the top of my harness because it was digging into my neck.
It is so important to communicate with your instructor at all times.
Once we were parachuting, it was amazing. The views were breathtaking, and it wasn’t scary anymore. Sometimes the instructors will let you take control of the parachute.
You can opt-out like I did.
There was about five minutes total of parachuting, and at this point, your third-person cameraman has already landed.
You will get some fantastic shots where you actually look like you’re having a good time with the hand-cam.
My second biggest fear after seeing bloopers of people hurting themselves was landing.
You have to hold your legs up and listen to your instructor to see how they want to land as there are different options.
My husband, Isaac, and I ended up doing a slide landing, which was easier than expected.
If you are very skinny, like Isaac, the landing could be rough on your tailbone, which is still sore a week later. My extra padding helped make it painless.
Plus, it is a lot easier to hold your legs up as instructed when the wind is helping you. So if you have limited core strength like me, you shouldn’t be too worried.
Afterward the Jump
This is when you either celebrate your first skydiving adventure or take a ride in an ambulance.
No one in my group had any issues, and we were all hyped after the jump.
It is hard to believe that you had actually just jumped out of a plane.
We decided to rest a bit before driving as the emotions came in waves, and the adrenaline still coursed through our veins.
They say that some people get addicted after their first jump. Although we can’t say we are, both Isaac and I are up for doing it again if it’s somewhere beautiful.
We’d be doing it for the views rather than the thrill of the free fall. I would happily skip that part any day!
My first skydiving adventure was amazing! It was equal parts scary, exciting, and beautiful. I am happy I did it, but I’m not sure I would recommend it to everyone.
Plus, just because I had a good experience and remained safe doesn’t mean that it isn’t dangerous. Please do your research before taking on any activity that could be risky.
Photos: Olena Kagui
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