The Climax in Adventure – Tandem Skydiving with JSC
Rebecca Kambule shares her skydiving adventure with us...
I skydived in Carletonville, a small town that hold record of deepest gold mines in the world. Carletonville is just over an hour from Johannesburg, a straight forward leisurely drive along the main freeways. It gives you a sense of a little #shotleft with the scenery along the way. Did you know that one the most popular South African soapie is set in this town, Isidingo.
I arrived bright and early, nervously thinking I was late. Only to learn that I was half an hour early – a long sigh of relief. It was a lovely blue skied, no wind sunny Saturday morning, a paint of cloud here and there. There were jumpers lounging on the benches spread across the gardens of the Drop Zone. I spotted some bright parachutes up in the sky descending downwards. Some silently, some with an odd scream or shout of ecstasy!
I found a comfortable spot to sit and sign an indemnity form. Whatever happens… the club would not be held liable. What a toll order! You would think that would get me to rethink the idea of jumping out a moving plane at 11000 feet up in the sky? Not. Instead, I felt an immense sense of calm on this morning.
I had managed to process my anxiety and fears two weeks prior. As soon as I confirmed my booking, sleep failed me for days. I woke up a few times in a cold panic. My photographic imagination went wild. I saw all sorts bad scenarios in my head – snapping of things, breaking of things mid-air. Eventually, I managed to settle down all the bad thoughts and picture the awesome. Watching footage of people’s experiences and doing a bit more research on the subject helped a great deal.
“I had such a rush, pure ecstasy. What a climax! What an adventure!”
My instructor finally got off from the air where he was flying with other crazies like myself. Bruce gave me the rundown of all the safety features showing me the harness I would wear and how we would be connected in four parts securely. He took me through the entire process, how with the landing too, one has the option to land on their feet or the instructor’s. Off course I opted to land on Bruce’s solid and well- experienced feet.
Our call time finally came. We were with about four other jumpers in the small aircraft, with me and Bruce being the last to jump out at 11 000 feet. People started launching out at 5000, 8000 feet or so. I cannot explain how I felt inside the plane. I kept playing the instructions inside my head, whilst trying to look down periodically and enjoy the view. All you see are massive mine dumps and the town of Carletonville. I said a prayer, prayers for a soft landing whatever happens. My turn came to sit on the edge of the open door of a moving aircraft. Waited to hear Bruce say, “Banana, Banana.” In skydive speak, that is my cue to position myself in a shape of a banana. Off we went free-falling.
The summersault descend is the one part I dreaded as I imagined discomfort, headache and tummy acting up from being turned upside down. To my surprise, there was no roller coaster falling sensation!
One tap on the shoulder, a sign to open your arms. I remember fighting the force of the wind against my face – it almost blew my goggles away.
But the videographer was right in front of us to put them back on! This bit was the only part of discomfort for me. We floated on what felt like air cushion for a few minutes, soaring between the clouds. All I could see around me were the indigo blue skies above and all around us. Seemed like I could look through a glass screen down the earth. I felt the sensation of the coolest air, a moist breeze around my face. The clouds perfectly placed, so beautiful as though moving with us.
Next instruction came, to bring my arms close to my chest. Before I knew it, I felt a pop – the parachute launching! Another thrill, to walk in the sky, gliding from side to side and periodically go upside down.
I was in cloud eleven, if ever there is such. Bruce did some spin manoeuvres and let me do the driving too – a pull to the right, we glide towards the right. Pull down to the left, we glide towards the left. The last bit was the skywalk towards the landing patch, my feet straight up in the air, safely landing on Bruce’s feet and bum. I stood up firm on the ground made my way back to the Drop Zone. I felt so energized. I had not had any coffee or anything with caffeine all morning – just water. I had such a rush, pure ecstasy. What a climax! What an adventure!
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