So, this Saturday, I jumped out of an airplane.
The jump was a birthday present for my father, who has always been very interested in everything related to planes. But of course, when we gave him the gift certificate, it went without saying that me and my brother would jump as well.
And it was COOL! All three of us loved it.
Of course, it was a tandem jump — an experienced parachuteer does all the work, and you’re just along for the trip. Nonetheless, since the experienced guy needs to be on top for obvious reasons, that means that once the door opens, you get to do the honours of swinging your legs over the side and pushing off. After that, there is 30 seconds of free fall, which is really wild — imagine sticking your head out of the window of a car doing 200kmh, and you have a fair idea of what it feels like. The jump starts at a height of 3000m, and in those 30 seconds you cover roughly half that distance. Then there’s a brief shock as the parachute opens — and the next second you’re just hanging there, seemingly not moving at all, and it’s so quiet that the two of you can hold a conversation without raising your voice.
The view is incredible — you’re still high enough to see for miles around, and there’s nothing between you and the scenery. After a while however, you notice that you’re not completely motionless, and in fact the objects on the ground are getting larger quite rapidly. Moments later, the landing point comes into view. The landing was surprisingly soft; if it wasn’t for the inconvenience of being two people strapped together, it would be more like stepping off an escalator than jumping down from a height.
It was definitely exciting, but not quite as scary as I expected it to be. I felt some nerves as the airplane door opened, but then as I looked out, there was never really a feeling of “I’m three kilometers above the ground and if anything goes wrong I will die.” Rather, looking from the plane it seemed as if everything was weightless — as if, even without a parachute, I could just step out of the plane and float around a little. After that, there was too much to do to be scared: step out, grab harness with both hands, push off, hold head backwards, arc body, wait for a tap on the shoulder, move arms into the stabilizing position — and then the ‘chute opens and you’re seemingly weightless again. There’s just no time to be scared.
On the other hand, some of the other people doing tandem jumps on the same day, weren’t quite so stoic about it — some of our fellow jumpers seemed about to pass out beforehand, and the couple who were scheduled after us were still debating whether or not to go through with it, when we left them.
So, would I do it again? Definitely! Although, at 200 euros for four minutes of fun, it’s not something you do every week. But I have already been looking into the options for taking solo jumping lessons..