(For links to pics and video please scroll down but do read the blog for the whle experience)
What gift did you give to your mom on her last birthday? I gave her shivers for hers. 30th September 1955 was the year when the most beautiful woman on earth was born, 52 years her crazy son jumped off an airplane. I called her a day earlier and told her I had bought a bike. She was silent and then very upset that I had done something very stupid. I told her I was kidding and then told her that I was going TANDEM SKYDIVING. All she said was be careful and have fun. She is the best mother ever. She encourages me to live my dreams or just that she knows she cannot help it. We drove up to Lebanon. Not the one in middle-east but the one in Maine. Five Indians, driving in a German car in US to a city named after middle east country to do a sport invented in Europe. Sounds crazy? It is. It was me, Raghuraj, Abhishek, Veer and Amol. We left early morning to get there on time but had to wait for a long time to get on the plane. If you are going skydiving and your reservation says 08:00 AM, it probably means you will take off not before 01:00 PM. We saw the plane taking off, going around circles to gain altitude and then leaving behind small black dots all over the sky. Abhishek was really worried that the plane was not reliable and it was leaving debris behind. Soon these dots were getting bigger and finally he realized that they were not plane’s debris but skydivers. We could make out who were experienced divers and who were tandem jumpers. The cameramen came the fastest and landed with high speeds followed by solo experienced jumpers. Then came the tandem jumpers with two people tied to one parachute. I do not know what is more dangerous, trusting tow person’s life on one parachute with one of them expert or one person per parachute who might know little about skydiving. I prefer the later but chose the former for some other factors. Our names were finally called out. The first batch was Veer, Amol and Raj. They got dressed, prayed and got on the Cessna Airplane .Soon they were floating down like birds. I shot a few videos of them landing. Next it was our turn. My instructor was Paul and Peter would be my cameraman. I got dressed in a nice red jumpsuit. Got a video shot and got onto the airplane. Now if you see this airplane, it is nothing like the ones you have flown in. First, there are no air hostesses, no drinks are served on board and the good part is no annoying pilot announcements. There is a irony though. Whenever you fly in passenger jet, there are like a 1000 instructions for safety and all you do is stick to your seats. Here, when we were actually going to jump off the plane, no announcements. They could’ve said “You guys are gonna jump of an airplane, please tie the person behind you to yourself.” We got up to 15,000 ft. The last time I was at this altitude, I was riding my bike. It was in Spiti Valley. So different. Last time I riding on a straight road at 60 mph and this time falling vertically down at 120 mph. Jumped off the airplane. A lot of people might think I was scared looking at video but I was far from it. I was just trying to listen to the instructor. Anyways, it was much less scary than you think it is. We did a Barrel, which is basically flipping on the back. The ground was still far far away but I was approaching it fast. Then Peter (my cameraman) was shooting me flying below me. I was surprised how much control he had. It was pure ecstacy. The speed, the wind, the sound of wind, the beautiful green valley below and the sheer rush of adrenaline were at levels I had never experienced before. Jumping off 15,000 ft is less scary than being hung at a height of 200 ft which I have been in a few rides. After a great free fall, the parachute came out. I was suddenly being sucked up into the sky and once the parachute was open and I saw the ground, I was consumed by the earth. I floated over the green meadows and flew through the clouds, the whole experience was heavenly. Paul let me control the parachute for a while and I will say, I go the hang of it. I did pull it too hard once and took a sharp left turn but then got a hang of it. We landed pretty fast compared to other jumpers. The first thought I had after landing was ‘when should I do it again’. Got my DVD and my camera roll of the fall and hit the road. Thanks to Veer who let me drive his BMW 5 series, the end of the day was awesome too. It was a wonderful car to drive. SO ladies and gentlemen, if you want thrill in your lives, go skydiving, otherwise just visit my webpage to hear my experiences.
The pics of the adventure:
My Video of the Jump: