“If thinking about it makes you excited, imagine actually doing it!”
Skydiving has been on my bucket list for quite a while. After our survival from the storm in Zanzibar, I knew that it’s time to tick this off the bucket list. One day during the conference call with two of my friends, they said that we are planning to go skydiving this year and without giving it a second thought I said yes, I am in! I was not aware of what’s and if’s but I was determined that I want to do this. When I say skydiving, it is solo skydive and not a one time tandem jump. In the next two weeks, we had the AFF course booked at Skydive Voss in Norway. It was not until the mandatory medical checkup that the idea that I am going to jump out of the flying aircraft started to sink in. After the course, many people were asking me about the course, the feeling of jumping out of an aeroplane, the costs involved, the fear, the excitement and everything. Hence, I decided to write this blog which would serve as a guide to someone who is willing to skydive, who is ambitious to stretch his own limits and someone who wants to challenge fear.
How can one become a skydiver
To become a skydiver or learn to skydive one has to do the AFF (Accelerated free fall) course which covers the theory lessons, ground training and 7 levels (jumps) where one has to perform certain tasks to proceed to the next level. This course is offered by almost every skydive dropzone but we decided to do this in Norway due to the beautiful landscape of the dropzone. Detailed information about the course is here. After completing the AFF course you are still a student on the way to own a skydiving license.
Arrival at the dropzone
Upon arrival, we were greeted by fellow skydivers, instructors and a few others at the drop zone. It’s the welcoming nature of this skydiving community that makes you feel comfortable in a way that you forget about the worry. You easily sense the confidence, the fearless attitude and the immensely strong bond towards fellow divers. In all, you are welcomed into a whole new world where there is no place for egotism, selfishness or unfriendliness.
The ground course begins
It was not until the introduction of the skydiving gear by our instructors in the evening the feeling started to sink in, Shit! In 60 odd hours, I am going to jump out of the plane. We were introduced to the norms and regulations of the drop zone and the skydiving gear. The day ended listening to some amazing stories from skydivers on beer.
ext two days, we had rigorous ground training that included repetitive drills to practice the exit from the plane, stable position in free fall, the signs from instructors and all the so-called drills to be performed in air. The critical part was also the landing as one has to tackle the wind, be aware of other skydivers and the obstacles near the landing zone and last but not the least the landing pattern.
Jumping into the clouds
It was the day for our first jump. The night before, none of us could sleep well as multiple thoughts very crossing over the confused mind; how to tackle the parachute failure, what would be the direction of the wind, etc. After the morning breakfast, we all went through the emergency procedures multiple times and were finally loaded into a 14 seater Foxy plane with two instructors per student. The plane was on the runway and the heartbeats were getting louder. Soon the plane took off and so similarly the heartbeats and the emotions. The altitude on the altitude meter was slowly rising. In a few minutes, the plane was over the clouds and a rush of blood was flowing through the body. The altitude meter showed 13500ft. This was the height where the red lamp in the plane would turn to green signalling that the divers can dive now. The door was opened and the experienced skydivers jumped out. In a couple of seconds, they disappeared. That made me quite nervous. Finally, it was my turn. Thoughtless, I went to the door of the plane. One instructor was holding me on the left from outside the plane and the other one holding me on the right from inside the plane. Out, In, Out- I was in the sky.
I cannot recall the five seconds before and after the jump, as I was at complete peace within.
I can definitely say that I haven’t experienced anything comparable to that moment, utter bliss! In the next 5 seconds, the fear vanished away and I was in a stable position over the clouds descending towards the earth at approx 200km/hour. I went through the freefall drills following instructors command. Within no time (45 seconds) I was shaken by the instructor to check for the altimeter and it was 6000ft and I had to deploy the parachute. After the pull, that sudden jerk made me feel nervous again as here onwards I was on my own (no instructors around). I looked up at the parachute to admire that there was no malfunction and the canopy was inflated. In the next 4 minutes, I neared the ground and successfully implemented the landing pattern to land safely in the designated field. But still, till date, the first jump has remained a mystery of emotions, fear for life and overall adrenaline. I can write a 1000 word post about the experience but I want to keep it short and motivate you guys to give this a shot.
AFF levels: The next levels are basically meant to make you acclimatize to different situations in free fall, achieve stability, achieve a high level of awareness through different tasks. The 6th level is the one where you dive out solo for the first time and the 7th level is the repetition of the 6th level.
Course and pricing:
The course costs about 1400-1600 euros depending on the location. Sometimes, one has to pay extra 10-15 euro to rent the rig. If one fails to pass a certain level then one has to pay extra to repeat the level.
After the AFF course on the way to license every jump costs 15-30 euros depending on the dropzone. The license gives you an opportunity to skydive at all the locations across the world. Here is the list of some of the best skydiving dropzones in the world. Skydive Algarve and Skydive Dubai are definitely on my mind after I get my skydiving license.
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