– MARCH 15, 2015
15,000 feet. Inarguably, very very high.
Strapping yourself to another person with a parachute and throwing yourself from a plane, this isn’t for everyone.
But we aren’t everyone.
With 2 guys from France and 1 girl from China, we are ready to go. We are split up into groups of 3, since the plane only holds 7 people (3 jumpers, 3 tandem guides and the pilot).
We suit up in a jumpsuit and harness, finishing the most flattering activity ensemble yet with the goofiest hat and goggles ever.
As the plane takes off, the anticipation sets in. Minutes go by. The ground recedes into the distance as the plane starts to climb. The views are spectacular. Spectacular is even enough of a descriptor. Stunning. The vast series of mountains that seemed so far away get closer as you fly up toward the mountain peaks.
The plane winds its way up, circling, and climbing for so long you are surprised when you are over many mountains but are only half way up!
Every minute that goes by your stomach gets into tighter and tighter knots. The excitement of one of the highest jumps in New Zealand is unbearable.
As we reach 10,000 feet the red light goes on and our French jump mate prepares to jump at 12,000 feet. As the plane door opens and as they slide out to the edge you get the preview of what you are going to do in mere moments now. They let go and fall from sight you know your turn is getting close. It is just Kenneth and I now with our guides.
At 13,000 feet you begin to see your breath. It is so cold and the air starts to thin. You breathe deeply. We continue on to 15,000 feet.
The red light goes on and our tandem jump guides go over what is going to happen and what we are expected to do. You prepare (as much as you can prepare for falling from a plane.) Watching that red light steals your attention away from the mountain views that are far below you now.
The green light goes and the door opens and Ken with his guide is first to slide out to the door’s edge. As you jump from the plane the position you are going for is head back and legs up like a banana.
Those first 3 seconds out the door you twist and tumble until you straighten out facing the ground. Your ears hurt from the pressure and you try to get your ears to pop before they hurt too much. Kenneth had a head cold, so his ears didn’t pop until the next day. Painful.
The free-fall was 60 seconds, but it felt more like 15. It was so much fun that it went by all too quickly. It was easy to underestimate how cold the air is pushing on your face! The wind is extreme. You are free-falling at 120mph after all.
It takes 60 seconds of falling until your parachute opens and you are pulled up so quickly your stomach is in your chest! Once open, our guides loosened our straps so we were more comfortable and for a few minutes you glide. Weightless. You twist and turn towards the ground taking in the breathtaking views.
Jill’s guide even let her steer the parachute! Even with her healing hand and it didn’t hurt so it was all good.
As we steered toward the landing strip we practice our “legs out” landing stance and we each achieved a perfect landing! Very soft, thanks to Ollie and Mario, our tandem jump guides.
Exhilarating. Amazing. Epic.
Top 10. Very difficult to beat!
For more photos of our adventure go to our flickr account here.