Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Perfect Birthday Gift: Skydiving in Queenstown, New Zealand

For my birthday this year, I decided to jump off a plane.

Brave or just plain crazy, I don't know. What I do know is that it would be a pity not to, since we're already in Queenstown. Skydiving was originally Eddie's idea. He's a Commando so he had prior parachute experience, thus, jumping out of an aeroplane is nothing new to him. Everyone else, including me was fearing for our lives nervous.

I suggested that we book at NZONE Skydive (http://www.nzone.biz), since I've read nothing but good reviews about them. The jump was cancelled the previous day due to rain. Thankfully, the weather the following morning was perfect! NZONE's dropzone is located at the base of the Remarkables Mountain, surrounded by a huge farm. It was around 20 minutes drive from the city center. When we arrived they gave us some briefing on standard and safety procedures. We changed into our jumpsuits, and anticipatedly waited for our turn. We boarded a Turbine Cresco 750, and it took us around 13-15 minutes to reach our designated altitude of 12,000 ft. My instructor was really friendly and nice. He made sure I was comfortable, and perhaps to lessen my anxiety chatted with me during the whole flight. I also had a cameraman who took pictures and videos during the flight and the jump. Both of them were awesome!

When we finally reached our designated altitude, the plane doors opened. Slide! Tandems started jumping off the plane at once! Pop, pop, pop! It was very unceremonial! Well, my instructor told me they jump like 10 times a day, so it must be very routine for them.

Strangely, by this time, I wasn't really feeling scared at all. If anything I was feeling excited! When it was finally my turn I put my game face on. Game face on, I told myself, game face on. I didn't even dare close my eyes because I did not want to miss the experience; also partially because I did not want my photos to turn bad. Jump, I went. In a matter of seconds after my feet left the safety of the plane, I was flying! It was the most surreal experience I've ever had. The first part was the free fall. This is the best part. Just falling at 200 KPH for 60 seconds. The view was amazing. I hope I could describe how awesome it was to be up there. But I cannot. You just have to be there.

Bring it on!

 A perfect day to jump out of a pretty good aeroplane.

 The view up there was amazing.

At that height you don't feel gravity at all, so even if you're falling pretty fast there's no funny feeling in the stomach similar to rollercoaster rides. There was a sudden jolt when the parachute was deployed but that was it. We also did some spins while up in the air. It was amazing. We spotted a rainbow too while up there, but it wasn't arch-shaped like the ones we often see below. It was circle shaped. It looked like a rainbow disc resting on top of a cloud.

"Do you see that rainbow?" my instructor said, "Rainbows appear circular from up here. Let's go there alright? It's my birthday gift to you."

So he steered the parachute towards the rainbow. It was really, really amazing. Technically, rainbows are just reflections of light in water droplets in the Earth's atmosphere, but for me on that day, I touched one :)

 Parachute was deployed.

 Smooth landing.

 After the jump. We survived skydiving!

The whole thing probably lasted around 7 minutes. The landing was smooth. I was somehow relieved to be back on earth, but I was already missing the sky! It was an awesome experience. I am glad I did it. I am glad I didn't chicken out! Truthfully, the scariest part of skydiving was the wait. Once you're up there it doesn't matter anymore. Somehow I realized that, as cliche as it might sound, you won't really know something unless you try. It's really true. Had I continued to nurse the fear I initially had, it would have kept me from going for it, I wouldn't have known how amazing it is to be up there.

My instructor wished me a happy birthday afterwards. I hugged him and gave him a high five before running towards my friends. Perhaps it was the adrenalin, but I've never felt so alive. Suddenly, parasailing looked lame, heh. It was the best birthday present I've ever had so far!

Will I ever do skydiving again? HELL YEAH.

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