A parachute jump has always been one of my dreams. I was curious what’s it like to fall with a high speed. I needed several years to find a good opportunity (and to gather up courage). But finally I decided to jump in the so-called tandem, with an instructor on my back.
So, what’s it like to do a parachute jump? Contrary to common views on jumping you don’t need to be in good shape, have perfect health nor finish long courses. You don’t need any permission from your physician. Parachute jumps are relatively safe and an average person can decide to do it without any previous preparation. You only need courage and some money (in Poland around 200 USD).
Before the jump you get 10 minutes of theoretical training and a jumping suit. Then you wait for your turn. In the airplane your instructor binds you to his suit and his parachute. Jumps usually take place at 13 000 feet (4000 meters). It takes around 20 minutes of flight to get there. Once you reach this altitude, you simply open the door and jump. But it’s not as easy as it looks. Stress is strongest just before the jump. I remember the moment when my instructor opened the door and I saw below me 13 000 feet of… well, nothing. It was the moment when I really considered quitting and cowardly coming back home alive. Fortunately, my mind was stronger than the temporary fear and we both jumped.
50 seconds of free fall with 125 miles per hour velocity makes you feel like a flying bird. Air pressure is so high that it’s hard to breath, so you are supposed to do it though the nose, you can help yourself by putting your hand in front of your face. The pressure was so high that it pushed in my eardrums and after landing I had to blow with my mouth and nose closed to move it back to the normal position. While falling you almost feel as if you are lying on a pillow made of air. The view of distant earth getting closer and closer is amazing. It’s hard to describe. I think it’s best to view the video or even better to experience it yourself.
After almost a minute my instructor opened our parachute and we had a 10 minutes of free parachute flight. My instructor gave me the steering handles and for a minute I was able to direct our flight myself . My instructor noticed that I actually liked the flight and I had good tolerance to velocity, so directed our parachute to do a spinning carousel. Eventually we landed safely.
I think that this was the most extreme experience in my life. At the same time I can really recommend parachute jumping as an interesting experience for all the brave people.