Looks like 3rd time's the charm for me! 2 weeks ago I was supposed to go skydiving for a friends 21st birthday, but it was clouded out. After waiting for half the day we gave up and went home (great party that night though!) Everybody that was going jumping ended up going the next week, but I got a killer 'flu and couldn't go - major disappointment again!
Finally this week, I was going, and when I woke up (actually, I got woken up :P), the weather was just beautiful! Not a cloud to be seen, and since the day before was rather sorry looking, I had already braced myself for yet another disappointment, but not so! In retrospect, it was well worth the wait - I had the best weather, it was just the perfect day!
So off I went for a cuppa at my sisters, since she was coming up to watch me (hoping I'd go *splat* no doubt) and her place is on the way. Time to go, so we hopped onto my bike and had a gorgeous ride up the old highway, past the Glasshouse Mountains.
Once up there, it's time to fill out the paperwork, and then hang around until the previous group comes back, so teach the sister to drive the camera, and hang around soaking up the sunshine. Not long after, it's time to get strapped up and the excitement starts! For a tandem jump, you get a harness to which your buddy straps him or herself, and they have the parachute on their backs. Hmm, I wonder if they have a quick-release for just in case? ;) Couple of pictures on the ground, and then we walk over to the twin-engine plane that's waiting on the airfield. Climb in, and off we go!
I don't know how long the climb up took - but it was a fair while, enough to have a great look around the area, we could see from Brisbane to Stradbroke from about 4000 feet up. The funny thing is it doesn't really look as if you go higher after a certain point. What you do get is more freefall time - about 65 seconds from 14,000 feet.
Finally we hit about 12,500 feet or so, the first stop - different peopel jump from different heights! This is where the excitement really started coming home to me - watching the first people crouch in the door way, and then suddenly they're gone! it finally strikes home that yes, I too am about to sit there in the open doorway, high high above the ground, about to get thrown out!
After the last of the 12,000 feeters is out, the plane climbs again, this time it only seems like a couple of minutes, during which time my buddy, Rob, tightens all the straps on my harness and gives it a final once-over to make sure everything is ok. One other person is going to jump with me from 14,000, and he's first.. we get to our altitude, the door gets opened once more, and they crouch in the doorway, 1-2-3, and they're gone! And now it's my turn....
We shimmy along the bench to the doorway, and crouch there. Head back, arms crossed with hands on each shoulder, and Robs arms reaching past me onto the frame of the door. "Ready?" "Yep!" 1-2-3, push, tumble, spin, and we're hurtling at the ground which is so far down! Pure rush, tap-tap on the shoulder, the signal that I can stratch my arms out which I do. The air rushing past is almost deafening, and the wind is freezing, but you hardly notice, the rush of falling straight down is undescribable. Rob made us spin a couple of times, first one way then the other, so we got a good 360deg view, but my eyes keep being pulled down to the ground. It doesn't look as if it's getting any closer, but suddenly I feel a little bump, and seconds later a jerk as the chute opens, and I'm no longer hurtling face-down groundwards, but gliding gently feet-first in the suddenly tranquil air.
We slowly circle down, getting a good look at everything, and ever so slowly the circle of the world is shrinking again. Rob shows me how he steers the parachute and controls the speed and stuff, and we get a good look around. Even with the chute we still loose several hundred feet per minute, a rate of decent that doesn't become aparent until you get closer to the ground, when it suddenly seems very fast - the first indication I got we were getting closer was when the Glasshouse Mountains once more started peeking over the horizon rather than being bumps on the ground below.
Finally we start circling in closer to the beach where we're landing, and I start waving. Further below us is the other parachute, all the ones that jumped from 12,000 had already landed. I watched the landing, and then it's our turn shortly after. One more big circle around the beach, I wave to the people down below, a couple wave back, and we are suddenly skimming down, head into the wind and a perfectly gentle touchdown, right on the red cross.
By this stage I can't stop grinning, must've looked like an absolute idiot (pictures to follow), but it had been such a thrill, such a rush, it was just great! I hardly notice when someone loosens my straps, I think it was Rob, when I turn around, and he's standing there grinning. We shake, and I tell him once more that it was just awesome, and thank you very much.
Well, that was the day of Micha's great jump, after this we went back to the office, I got a nifty certificate, and then we headed back to my sisters place for a BBQ.
For anybody who is in the area, I can totally and utterly recommed it, it was just one of the biggest thrills of my life. And i can't imagine what it'd be like from 10,000 or 12,000 feet where you only get half the freefall time, 65 seconds from 14,000 feet just flies by (pun intended), so go all the way if you do!
The Sunshine Coast Skydivers operate from the Caloundra Aerodrome on the Sunshine Coast. I can definitely recommend them - even though the preparations seemed a little rushed, they are very friendly, and make sure you have a great time! Go drop in (or rather, out!) if you're ever in this corner of the world! It's awesome!
Oh, by the way, for all non-aviators, and those that live in countries which use real measurements (me included), 3 feet is roughly equal to 1 meter, so at 14,000 feet we were nearly 5km's straight up.. and free-fell for over 3km's. Quite a rate of descent, huh?
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Last updated: 23-May-2000