Hanging out at the wrong end of 12,000ft.
These days, throwing yourself out of a plane just for the sheer hell of it is not uncommon – especially in New Zealand, a country famous for its adventure sports. I’ve only ever skydived once, and that was a tandem jump in 2007, flying over Lake Taupo on the North Island. Jumping solo takes a lot of training, expense, and well for lack of a better word, balls. So while I didn’t get to recreate hurtling towards earth like Keanu Reeves in Point Break, the tandem jump was still a rush none-the-less. I reckon it’s something everyone should try at least once in their lifetime, as dangling your feet out of a plane then being pushed out offers an experience like no other.
As you would expect, the ascent up is when you are the most nervous. I was the last one to board the plane which meant I was also the first to jump. As the green light comes on, you shimmy to the door and dangle your feet over the edge. This is the moment of no return, when your instructor basically throws you out. The freefall itself is over 200km/ph, but it doesn’t really feel like you are falling at all apart from the first two seconds.The parachute opens at 5000ft – and only then can you enjoy the scenery that is around you. Everything before that is a blur of ‘what the hell is going on.’ Before you know it you are on the ground not really able to comprehend what just happened. I found this footage of me doing my jump. I look about ten years old.
The company I did it with was called Freefall who are now operating as Skydive Taupo. There also another outfit called Taupo Tandem Skydiving. Both charge the same for the jumps, but they vary on the extras provided. 12,000ft (NZ$249/£120) gives you 45-second freefall while 15,000ft (NZ$339/£160) gives you one-minute freefall. They seem to really be really ripping the arse out of prices these days as DVD/photos can almost cost as much as the jump. When we did it it was a bit more expensive, but not that much more.