Years ago (5 years?), Anh gave me for a birthday a voucher for a skydiving jump which is in my wishlist of things to do.
In France, it is generally necessary to weigh less than 90 kg to make a tandem jump, so I was a little bit over, it was not done.
Since we have been travelling around the world, there have been several occasions but there was always an excuse (“it will be prettier in this place”, “no time”, “it would be better with a French-speaking person for a first jump”, …).
In Montreal, thanks to K., I met H. with whom we followed the NBA final. From the discussions, I learned that he regularly jumps by parachute. Telling him that I have had a “good” one waiting for me for a long time, he offered me to jump with him. He doesn’t have the diploma to jump in tandem with someone but he will be able to jump at the same time as me and film me.
I took this proposal as a sign that we should not refuse. Montreal is certainly not the prettiest skydiving spot but it was the opportunity: H. could transport us, save me the “video” option which is usually offered at a high rate and it was also safe to be accompanied by a known face when we had to jump out of the plane 😀
So it’s decided and we reserve the jump. Via the internet, I sign some rather scary disclaimers which stipulate that the skydiving center isn’t responsible if I die… Atmosphere.
In the car, H. explains that if she wishes, Anh will be able, for a small fee, to board the plane with us in the co-pilot’s place. Rather nice idea, she will be in the heart of the action and it isn’t every day that we have the opportunity to be in the cockpit of a small plane.
When arriving at the center (Parachutisme Adrénaline Saint-Jérôme), we unfortunately learn that the co-pilot seat will be occupied by a pilot in training. The staff is super nice and proposes to Anh to… to equip herself as if she was going to jump in parachute and to go up in the plane. Once on top, she will be able to decide if she jumps or not and pay afterwards if she decided
Anh did not expect such a proposal and was not really ready for it, she declined.
I pay the price of the jump: 300 CAD. It is explained to me that we take off in… 20 minutes! No time to think!
I meet my partner: Ariel. I put on a wetsuit, a harness, safety glasses. Since I’m jumping with my partner, I really don’t have much to do, Ariel gives me a mini briefing to explain me how we’ll get out of the plane, how I should position myself, … it doesn’t even take 5 minutes.
And… it’s already time to get on the plane! There are a dozen of us to get on the plane, some of us do a baptism, like me, others like H. are more experienced and jump solo.
It’s the first time that I get into a small plane like this one, there are two long benches and we sit astride, back to the pilots. I’m the last one to go in and so I’ll be… the first one to jump. I don’t know if it’s good or not but at least I won’t have too much time to think about it.
I find myself surprisingly calm even though the pressure is starting to build up. It takes a little quarter of an hour for the plane to reach 4000 meters of altitude and it’s quite cool up there.
A sound and light signal will sound to indicate that there are 2 minutes left before the jump. It’s imminent, the pressure is rising but I’m still not that stressed.
The red light comes on, H. opens the door. A few seconds later, the green light comes on in turn. From that moment on it will go very fast, not even time to be afraid.
H. gets out of the plane and stands on the outside bar of the plane. The goal is to let me pass to film my jump.
I approach the window, Ariel puts the small thrust to make us tip over into the void and it’s off for 50 seconds of free fall at 200 km/h which will see us go from 4000 to 1500 meters of altitude. Ariel immediately takes out a small canopy to help stabilize us, it’s systematic when we jump in tandem.
First there are a few moments of astonishment where I don’t really realize that I’ve just jumped out of a plane. I am seized by the cold, I don’t know what temperature it is at 4000 meters but my hands are frozen. It’s not so embarrassing since we go down so fast that the temperature rises quickly.
The upwind grip is impressive and really similar to the freefall I was able to do in the wind tunnel a few years ago.
In the meantime, H. jumped and joined us. I have the impression that he is trying to explain something to me, that’s why I can be seen on the video making some strange gestures 😀
The only downside is that I quickly feel a pain in my ears, similar to the one I used to have when I was scuba diving (that’s why I don’t do it anymore) and sometimes when I land in a plane. This pain is explained by the pressure variations that I can’t stand very well. The pain is bearable but it spoils a bit the pleasure and my ears will stay clogged for long hours.
After 50 seconds of free fall, Ariel activates the parachute. I’m surprised at how smoothly it slows down, I was expecting something much drier. Ariel then explains to me that this is largely due to the quality of the packing of the parachute.
Stay a few minutes to enjoy the landscape, we are really lucky with the weather whereas it rained all day long the day before.
The landing is also much smoother than I imagined. I got a little scared when I saw that my feet were going to hit first when we were supposed to land on the buttocks but no worries.
The jump went very well, a great first experience that may not be the last.
It is possible to take the PAC (Assisted Free Fall Progression) program. Once this program is completed, it is possible to make jumps for about 50 euros (seat in the plane and equipment rental).
The idea of being able to skydive all over the world when I get the chance is quite appealing. My only reluctance concerns the pain in my ears… We will see 🙂
Thanks again to H. for this great discovery and the video 😀