The most exhilarating minute of my life !
09.03.2010 - 09.03.2010
From Waitomo, we reached Taupo in the North Island. Lake Taupo is the biggest lake in NZ and when I say its big, I mean its IMMENSE. It was created by a huge volcanic eruption which turned the sky red in China and Rome.
We were picked up by the Tandem Sky diving guys around 1 PM. But the sky was overcast and the chances of sky diving that day seemed less but we were quite hopeful. We reached the hangar beside a small airfield and were briefed about the various options we could choose from. There was the option of diving from 12000 feet or15000 feet and also the option of diving with or without photographs and video. I was very doubtful whether I'll be doing this ever again in my life so I went for the best and most expensive - 15000 feet and with photographs.
We dressed up in our flight suits and were all set to go when the weather turned bad and we were asked to wait. Those two hours were the most restless I've been recently. All of us were so excited that we could barely sit still. We were of course taking lots of photographs in our flight suits.
Finally the weather got better and we were good to go. 6 of us were in the first batch - Me, Arun, Emma, Leah, Aksle and Sophia. Each of us had a tandem sky-diver to whom we are attached to and a photographer who would jump along with us. My instructor was Cody who was a really cool chap.
The plane turned out to be quite small and it was a very tight squeeze. There were totally 18 of us and also the pilot.
The plane took off and started climbing in a spiral making sure we would be jumping right above the airfield. We were given a life jacket in a small pouch just in case we managed to drift off over the Lake Taupo.
After a few minutes, we were quite high up and I asked Cody if we were at 15000 feet already. He showed me his altimeter which read just 4000 feet. Whew. We kept climbing and climbing and finally reached the clouds. At around 12000 feet, we were given oxygen masks. Apparently the altitude and the nervousness cause many people to start hallucinating. After a while, we broke through the clouds and reached clear skies. It was the most beautiful sight ever. Blue skies, bright sunshine and a sea of clouds.
Finally we reached 15000 feet and the plane door was opened. The wind was blowing so hard that we could hardly hear anything else. Arun was the first to jump out and then Leah and then it was my turn.
Cody pushed me to the edge and we put our feet over the edge. I tried to look down but all I could see were the clouds. Steve, my photographer hung outside the plane on a tiny ledge.
And then we jumped.
The first second, it felt like I was falling in slow motion. I could see Steve and the wings of the plane and the next second, gravity took over and we were falling and all I could do was .. well.. SCREAM. I couldn't even hear myself screaming. We were so far up that I could clearly make out the curvature of the earth.
After a few seconds, Cody tapped me on the arm and I looked up and there was Steve pointing the camera at me. I started waving my arms around and started doing all kind of idiotic gestures. Steve was all around me. He would go up and then down and then circle around. I held onto his hand at one point and we twirled around in circles. After a while, we were falling at a speed of over 200 kmph. I was finding it difficult to even wave my arms. The skin on our faces started forming ripples.
We were in free fall for just over a minute but it was the most amazing minute of my life. I was looking at Steve at around 4000 feet up when suddenly I stopped falling and I felt like I was suspended in mid air. I looked up to see the chute had opened and we started gently gliding down.
I could see the whole of Lake Taupo and so many mountain ranges in the distance. It was the most amazing sight ever. Cody asked me how I felt and I remember what I said, "I can't believe that actually happened".
We were right over the airfield and paraglided to the ground in less than 5 minutes. Arun and Leah were already waiting for me. The others slowly glided down and we all did a victory jump before leaving the airfield.
That's one thing I've crossed of my TODO list.