If I were to pick moments in my overseas trip that stood out, the skydiving experience would definitely be one of them. The sheer adrenaline and intensity encapsulated in that short jump were truly out of the ordinary. The scenery could barely be more spectacular. Lake Taupo is a spectacular place. The lake itself is the result of one of the most cataclysmic volcanic eruptions of all time. The rolling hills and placid lake make it yet another of New Zealand’s endless poster card paradises.
Having finally taken the plunge and booked the skydiving, there was no backing down. My hopes that the weather would be clear materialized and we were good to go. I got picked up by a van and taken to the airfield. Once there we were given a briefing of how to survive the jump. All of us were afraid of course but fortunately we would be jumping in tandem with highly experienced guides. Few human beings would have the balls to jump out of a plane flying at 15,000 feet as this totally defies basic human survival instinct.
The fear grew as the aircraft spiralled higher, and strapped in to our tandem partners, we could only wait for the inevitable. What madness had possessed us to do this. What if these seasoned veterans made a mistake? What if their countless jumps made them cocky or complacent? What if some screw or clip were left undone? Would the beautiful lake Taupo be the last thing my eyes would see and barely appreciate as I plunged to death with my body completely disintegrating on impact?
With bravado, the guides were joking among themselves. Their humour did not rub onto us lambs being led to the slaughter, a slaughter we had signed up for on our own free will. As we got to the designated height, with a crew member outside videotaping the whole thing, the tandems began their jumps. One by one, they disappeared into the cold New Zealand air. We were the last to jump. Relentlessly, my Swedish guide inched towards the plane’s door and then WHOOSH!
An indescribable feeling overtook me. A tremendous fear caused bedlam in the brain as screams failed to escape the mouth. For what seemed like an eternity, I was trundling towards the ground, soon to be turned into a pancake, a Maltese qassata perhaps. As it turned out and thankfully as it turns out on the overwhelmingly vast majority of cases, billowing strings of canvas were deployed as we stabilized and fought the relentless pull of gravity. Now instead of fear, there was elation, as the picturesque scenery became apparent. Everything on the lush green fields or in the lake was a mere ant as slowly but surely we approached the safety of the ground we call our domain.
As we got closer and closer, I was given the chance to steer but must have made a right hack of it, as the Swede said that “he will play a little now”. Deftly, he guided the pair of us towards the landing zone where the others were to be seen in various staged of landing. Some were watching from the sidelines, while others were just about recovering their composure. or unlatching their gear. As we got to within metres of the ground, I dug my feet into the ground as we lurched to a complete stop very much alive.
Back in the debriefing room, I was shocked to see that my hearing was gone. I couldn’t hear shit. Playing table soccer against unsuspecting victims did little to ease my concern. We were shuffled to a video room and shown footage of what had just taken place. For just under a hundred dollars the footage could be ours. I passed. Paying around 400$ for a jump is one thing, but I didn’t need to pay that much money just for a video. People who don’t want to believe I did the jump would be welcome to do so if they wish. I had done this for myself, and not for bragging rights.
As we were leaving the place, beaming with our certificates in hand, I said goodbye to my Swedish guide and thanked him for his support. He informed me that I had a running nose. Jumping with some congestion can do that to you but there was no way I was passing on skydiving and I’m so glad I did it. I didn’t have time to be too embarrassed though as the good old Svenski was already on his way to another jump. This job is perfect for adrenaline junkies. You get paid a shitload to do something really fun.
As for myself, I contemplated a second jump at reduced prices but decided that for the sake of my wallet and sanity, I had seen enough action for that day. The glow of the experience was with me for a good few days afterwards and the memories still give me a feeling of elation and trepidation. Perhaps I will do it again one day. I most certainly think that if you haven’t done it yet, you might want to give it a try!
Disclaimer: photo is from internet and not my own. I have no photos of videos of the experience. They’re all stored in my brain 🙂