For those who have never gone skydiving, it is impossible to de-link it from wet thoughts of embarrassment, for instance crying or peeing in your pants.
But for those who have actually done it, they can’t wait to get back up again and experience their most liberating life-experience – yet.
“You can’t really explain it. But it’s a beautiful experience,” says Rob Kruger, an instructor at the Pretoria Skydiving Club, with years of experience.
Skydiving; derived from the words sky and dive, literally consists of diving into the air from a moving aircraft. In some cases, the ‘jump’ starts at 11,000 feet, and newbie divers are harnessed to more experienced jumpers in case they pass out or feel overwhelmed by the panoramic view.
From 11,000 feet, its free-fall for about 35-40 seconds before the instructor lets open the parachute – usually at about 5,000 feet. During free fall a jumper or diver is cruising at between 250 and 300kph. So if you were falling from Nairobi to Mombasa it would take you just about 2 hours of action, with time included to open up your chute.
“When jumping you have to assume a certain position, so that there is little resistance. When its time to jump, the instructor will sit at the edge of the chopper while the diver will be dangling outside the aircraft. Curl your legs beneath the air-craft and throw your head and hands back, so that when we kick off to flight, your hips are lower than the rest of your body.”
Rob told our group to pay attention to the instructions because it is impossible to speak while hurtling downwards.
As beautiful as it may seem, clouds and wind are your enemies when jumping because they ‘cloud’ your vision and can prevent a perfect fall. Often due to the tricky nature of winds, it is very easy to wait a whole day for the winds to die down before you can jump.
Another enemy is weight. For a standard 250kg capacity parachute, the jumper and the instructor must have a combined weight of 200kg. So the danger zone falls between 97 and 100kgs for each individual.
When near the ground, the instructor touches the jumper’s thigh, a signal for them to lift their legs forward.
“This is so that it’s only the instructor’s feet that do the landing and make sure you steer clear of any accidents,” says Rob.
So check your weight and the weather before you go for an anticipated jump. Eat well because the adrenalin of cruising down can knock your senses into a hot mess.
If you pay just a little extra, your jump or dive or fall can be documented and subsequently posted on Facebook – by you of course.
There were definitely more white people than blacks rearing to go for the jump. I missed out because it was too windy, and because I was informed it would be more enjoyable to jump after losing at least 5 or so kilos.
There is no age limit for jumping – as long as one can fit in the harness.