Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Skydiving

 Living in Cyprus turned out to have an unexpected great benefit. The Skydiving Drop Zone (DZ) base is only 15 min drive away from home.
Few weeks ago I learned about it by chance which I now believe was destiny. I called the guys and asked what is the best way for me to try skydiving ideally without being strapped to someone else. I always thought tandems are for sissies ;) Opposite to common believe you don't need to do tandems in order to learn paragliding or skydiving, not at all.
Anyway, turned out that I could get a basic training and one static line jump in a weekend so I naturally signed up. Few weeks later I was slightly surprised when receiving a message that training is to start. Oh, sh...t now I really have to do it ;) 
I pep-talked myself into it like this. When you have small children sometimes it's really nice to take a little break and do something different just for yourself. Jumping off planes certainly must qualify.Saturday went on in theory and some practical exercises, Sunday morning 8 am I was there geared up and ready to take a leap. 
Strange thoughts pass trough your mind when you are in a small aircraft with a missing door and the familiar scenery gets smaller and smaller down under. 
All of a sudden all worries, fatigue, little problems, unpleasant thoughts all go away. By the sheer feeling of fear the mind gets so purified that only real essential things appear on the surface.
Me and the other chick on the course were last to jump, not sure why, since I wanted to be first. By being the last one to jump you have many chances to witness the pre- first jump agony. 
Before I knew I was sitting at the door with my feet down 4000 feet of open space. Right at that moment I was not even scared, but experienced some sort mix of stage fright and impatience. I just wanted it to start and be over.
And so I jumped.
Next thing as I felt the plane kept flying without me, a feeling a extreme panic took over. 
I have never felt so out of control ever before. Those 4 seconds in which I was practically in a state of free fall, since you don't feel the static line, were so extreme and so full of emotions as if it was 4 hours or even 4 days bottled up in a small box of time. 
Then the parachute opened.
What a Relief
As you learn at the training you need to always ask yourself is the parachute "big" and regtangular". It was big all right, but not really rectangular. One of the tips was closed and I used all my power to spread the lines so that it opens up. Another sigh of relief.

 Otherwise same idea as a paragldider with recards to controling it. The only one and pretty big diffrence is that a parashute is mean to fall, while a glider is there to allow you to stay in the air. In that respect skydiving is a fairly short experience. 
I had a text book landing, which felt good. The adrenaline kept me in a small cushion of joy for a few hours. And then there was a giant crash, so I had to go to bed in the afternoon. 
I would rate the experience 10 out of 10: amazing pure pleasure, tremedous feeling of victory, purifying and enriching, plain joy of life. 
In comparison to paragliding:
1. skydiving it's shorter and more intense 
2. paraglding is far more technical and takes much longer to learn as there are a lot more factors to consider. Great benefit for skydiving if you are short on time
3. the fear factor is far greater in skydiving
4. the adrenaline rush is much more in skydiving
5. skydiving is overall less espensive, since you don't need to buy your own gear
6. the skydiving population seems generally younger and there seem to be more women than in paragliding
7. skydiving is less time-consuming sport overall, with average jump taking no more than 30 min from the moment the plane takes off. 
8. both are very weather dependant sports
9. the kick you get from skydiving is more, but you don't have the feeling of flying and controlling your flight as much, so all in they are very diffrent experiences and I can't say the one is better than the other. 
10. I would do it again. In fact maybe tomorrow!
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OK, so I wrote a draft of this post last week. Over the weekend I went back to the DZ and jumped two more times and am thinking of doing it again in the future. Let's see how that goes.