As soon as the engine of the eight seater plane churned to life I realized there was no turning back. The take off was smooth but for once I wasn’t really bothered about the comfort or safety of the plane itself! I was the only tandem jumper on board and I think there was a first time solo jumper. The rest all seemed rather too comfortable with the setting.
At the first kilometer mark my master politely told me that we had just climbed the first storey of our jump spot! Thanking him I turned to look outside the window to see we were slowly climbing above the clouds. I knew this didn’t help my “preparedness” in anyway and so decided to focus on the ground below – BAD IDEA! What used to be buildings and large farms were slowly assuming ant like shape in no time!
Seeing my nervousness, my instructor told me to trust everything he did (as if I had any other choice)! At around Four kilometers (sounds much better than four “thousand” meters), one of the jumpers crouching near the door pushed it open. It wasn’t too cold – just a bit of chillness (I guess the climate helped here). But then I wasn’t so concerned about the temperature either. Within moments two of the jumpers sitting in front started counting – three… two… one and were gone before I could even imagine the word “go”!
One by one everyone was out. Then the cameraman (a friendly guy from Kazakhstan) looked at me with his back to the door, gave a thumbs up and was gone! I felt kind of numb at the moment. I had no clue what on earth (other expletives be pardoned here 🙂 ) I was doing up here. This was not something I had prepared for!
In desperation, I tried to hold on to the door railing for a moment (to gain some confidence or whatever I could muster) but my master was quick to spot this and smacked my hand. His instructions came back to me – “Don’t hold on to anything inside the plane before the jump. The idea is to get out of the aircraft and not to stay inside!” I had nothing more to bargain for and had to do it.
I vaguely remember seeing him pointing his fingers (for countdown) as we can’t hear anything against the wind. I was simply sitting at the edge of the aircraft facing a drop, that, if it went wrong (god forbid), would not even spare a bone in my “precious” body! The only little confidence I had was at the back of my body, but the view in front was truly “confidence shattering”!
That was it and I plunged! I remember quacking a bit and then shouting a lot (I couldn’t even hear myself honestly). I looked down a bit and got the shock of my life to see the ground “coming up” faster than I expected it to! Free-fall was on! There is nothing like those few seconds (I guess it would be around five to ten seconds). Pure free-fall was such a fantastic experience. I am no bonafide extreme sports guy, but I am pretty sure it is uncomparable to any other kind of blood rush your body may ever experience! The pace of the drop (roughly two hundred km/ hr) adds to the madness!
Some of the stuff I saw at this stage was pretty shocking! Out of no where the guys who jumped before me started to appear all around me! I have no clue how they did that. The cameraman was suddenly shooting past me and and was coming up or going down (I guess he was still learning the art of photographing free-falls), based on my tandem master’s instructions (hand signals); and he was obeying those ardently as if he could play in the air with zero effort.