Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane

Today I did just that – went skydiving from 12,000 feet above Whangarei.

This was Rob, my tandem jumping buddy. Or in other words, the man who had my life in his hands. He’d been jumping for 37 years, so he’d done this once or twice.

After waiting for an Australian Hercules to finish playing touch and go with the runway (it did about 8 touch/takeoffs in a row), we took to the skies.

Whangarei was beautiful today – the forecast had called for overcast clouds and rain – instead it was gorgeous. I was glad to have taken the morning time, the clouds and rain came around noon.

I was the only one jumping this morning, so I got to be first out of the plane (well, it would only fit 2 tandems anyways, small plane!). To prevent people from grabbing onto the plane, you loop your thumbs around the straps. After a few seconds of enjoying the view…

We were off! A quick push off and we were free falling. That first step really is the doozy, after that I got to sit back and enjoy the show. And what a view and thrill! Really like nothing else on earth!

I couldn’t tell you how long the free fall lasted – I thought it felt like 15-20 seconds, but Rob mentioned that my perception of time gets greatly compressed when jumping for the first few times – so much adrenaline and everything moving so quickly. We apparently were in free fall for about 45 seconds.

Eventually Rob pulled the cord so we wouldn’t go splat. I was surprised, the sensation wasn’t as jarring as I expected. After the canopy deployed, Rob let me fly for a bit.

It was easier than I thought it would be, at least turning in circles. Which we did – Rob got me to yank hard to the right and go into a spiral. After we finished that move, we came into land.

The landing was softer than I was expecting! We simply sat down, though we did have some speed which carried us forward. The ground had rain on it from last night so it was nice and soft. I had survived!

Really quite the experience – I would definitely do it again given the chance. I might do it again on the south island – diving and looking down at glaciers and snow-capped mountains might really be something. I’ll have to wait and see. Still, very glad I took the opportunity here – the group is a small one in Whangarei, but they were awesome to deal with. They love what they do and pretty much care about every jumper, it’s not just a business operation to them. I kicked back and relaxed with the group afterwards for about 30 minutes. Rob’s a really interesting guy – he’s jumped on every continent except Antarctica, and very nearly got to jump there too – cost was just too insane though. Quite the day all in all.

Oh, later in the day I went to a waterfall (Whangarei Falls). It was pretty.

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