Jumping from an airplane at 16,500 ft

Jumping-from-an-airplane !!?! (That's right!) Crazy! Awesome!!

This was one of those experiences that we both wanted to do during our trip around the world.
We had decided to do it in New Zealand for two main reasons: Safety and the incredible views it could provide (against it only one reason: the very expensive cost).

So there we were...,
all prepared and geared up for our jump, after getting our pre-flight briefing about safety procedures and sequence of events, we were feeling a bit like cool pilots in the Top Gun movie just before an important flight, with the difference that we were looking a lot more excited and dirty.

We were in Motueka, a city by the cost on the north of the south island of New Zealand.
This is possibly the ideal location to do such a jump, nearby is the Abel Tasman National park with a beautiful coastline, the Cook straight dividing the north and south islands, views of Marlborough sounds, mountains, dense vegetation and luckily a great sunny day.

We had been living inside the belly of our dear John Lennon, and let me tell you that after 2 weeks with no real shower and no real bed, hair and skin becomes (very) disgusting, a jump from form an airplane would for sure freshen up things a little.
16,500 ft is more than 5 km! (That's high enough! It's actually the highest tandem jump in New Zealand.
When I started thinking about taking such an adventure (a memory for the lifetime they say), it is natural to think that it might actually become the last memory of my lifetime).
Q: What if the parachute doesn't open?
A: There is another one!
Q: What if the second one doesn't work?
A: Chances of survival are very very very low. You became a human pancake!

So, no, I didn't want to become a human pancake! specially without having a nice good shower before! We were given some hats, made us look very silly, but at least would cover our greasy hair. Helmets were not necessary, as they would become part of the pancake too.

Luckily the chances of the 2 parachutes not working are very very very very very low. So it actually makes skydiving a very nice and attractive sport and  also a very profitable business.

We sat directly on the airplane floor as there were no chairs or seats except the one for the pilot inside the minuscule cabin. We would be the 'load #1' of the day (made us feel a bit like test lab rats)..but hey, it's a dirty job but someone gotta do it.

It took us about 20 minutes to climb all the way up to our drop zone. Before that at about 12,000 ft on the way up we were given masks to breath through. The masks are used because the cabin is not pressurized and above that altitude oxygen becomes rarefied, without that people get dizzy, tired, loose motor skills, and loose consciousness. We didn't want any of that! so everyone got some extra oxygen.

...The airplane stopped climbing...This is it! ..heart starts racing.., by this time we had done all security checks, making sure that we were well attached to our instructors. yep we were tightly tucked to their chests.

Helena was sitting closer to the door but more to the right side of the plane, till then I had been trying to figure out if I was going to jump first or if she was jumping first.

...The door slides open..., a cold wind fills up the cabin, felt good since I was heating up inside my flying suit.

...Helena's camera men steps outside... What?outside?? there is no stepping outside? I don't see him anymore, but I know he is still there, attached to the airplane from the outside..
...Helena and her instructor crawl on their bums till the door, stay there for some seconds and in a blink of an eye they are gone!..

I scream, "she's goooone!!! She did it! I laugh loudly, I worry for her, I am really happy for her, my heart races even more!

Then my camera man steps outside, everything goes fast, and before I build my courage fully, I am already sitting on the door rim, the world beneath, the cold wind, the engine noise, the blu sky, land, ocean, mountains, some clouds, what a view! what a rush! and then ... the countdown!
I lift my head (its part of the safety) I can only see the sky now! and with two little swings we are OFF.

Oooooohhhoooooo, in a split second and we falling towards the ground like a bullet.

I see the camera guy.... he is floating? in the air in front of me! ? with his belly up. crazy guy!
I feel myself falling and the wind rushing through my belly, face and arms. it's almost like if I can embrace everything.

Yeeaah, I scream. and scream again, the wind is so strong that it's like my scream only exists in my head.

The camera guy comes closer, we hold hands, we start swirling and swirling in the air, I feel an increasing force force pulling us apart, then he let's go, and we separate in the air. I laugh like crazy. It is crazy.

Then he comes closer again, and he flies under me in front of me, between me and the ground. I see some clouds approaching behind him, we are going really fast!!

And then we are falling through the clouds, Uaauuu, i see only white and this crazy guy floating in front of me. !!!!

Then light again, we are out of the clouds!, I see the ground, the ocean, the coastline, the mountains some houses, we are getting closer! and then a force in my body pulling me down, parachute has opened and I'm sitting and falling smoothly. The camera guy has disappeared somewhere.

I have time to enjoy the beauty of the coast line, the green vegetation, some few islands, we turn gently in spirals, we are getting closer to land, I get time to recover my breath, What has just happened? I reconstruct images of the jump in my memory, I laugh loudly again. uaaauuu.

Then I see a large green field, we are heading there.
we align with the green and we are landing, I'm told to pull my legs up and land in my bum. I am exhilarated!

Below some videos of this adventure, survived:


Helena said…
Wow! What memories :D Can we go back?

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