We woke to the sound of planes and helicopters flying overhead. As I removed my eye mask I could see blue skies, no wind, and I knew we were on.
We stayed at luggate cricket club camping site, which was about 2km away from Wanaka Airport, so we didn’t have to get up too early to drive there the next day.
We arrived at the airport around 9:30am, to check in, choose our picture packages, watch a safety video and get suited up! We chose a video and picture combined package, which meant we had a cameraman jumping with us. You can choose from a selection of music for each section of the video, or you can leave it up to the editor to decide for you.
After our safety briefing we were sent to get our jumpsuits and other equipment fitted. A member of ground crew suits you up, then your instructor comes and doubles checks his work before you get on the plane. The first part of your video footage also starts on the ground, your cameraman comes to meet you, and videos you whilst asking how you’re feeling, if there’s any messages you want to add etc. I had a few butterflies at this point but as we were waiting, the people from the previous jump started to land and we both thought if they can do it, so can we.
My instructors name was Marcus, John’s was Boris. Our cameramen filmed us boarding the plane and taking our seats. It was definitly the smallest plane we’ve ever been on, with 2 rows of benches inside which you sit facing towards the jump hatch with the bench inbetween your legs.
The climb to 12,000ft takes around 15 minutes. As the plane shot down the runway and took off from the ground I thought to myself the next time I touch the floor, will be after I have jumped out of this plane… A skydive is pretty good value, as along with the jump itself, you’re getting a scenic flight of the area thrown in. Everyone’s instructors were talking to them on the way up, no doubt trying to take our minds off what we were about to do, except when we were what I thought was quite high up, and marcus informed me we were only at 5,000 ft!
Marcus asked me to shuffle up and sit on his lap, so he could begin strapping us in and making sure everything was as it should be. He put my hat on, and asked me to put my goggles and gloves on as well, as my cameraman and John’s were having a discussion over who was going second and who was going third. Marcus explained to me what was going to happen when the jump door opened and that we would be going second.
As the door opened, the first jumper was out within seconds and suddenly marcus was directing me to shuffle towards the door.
I’m not really sure what went through my head when we were on the edge, John said the same, that it all happens so quick (although in aware I look terrified in my pictures, I didn’t feel that terrified). You probably spend no more than 3 seconds sat on the edge, as you assume the free fall position and then you’re gone. Your instructor pushes his weight Into you and then you’re out, free falling at 200km an hour, looking out onto spectacular views of lake wanaka, the surrounding mountains and fields. John was 3rd to jump, and said one second I was on the edge, the next second I was gone.
We had 45 seconds of free falling, the cameraman taking various pictures and videos along with you. I couldn’t control my arms or my face when I was falling, my arms wanted to be right up in the air, and my face was being blown into all sorts of funny shapes. You’re jolted as the parachute opens, and the cameraman continues to free fall to ensure he is on the ground to film your landing. I’m not entirely sure how long it took to get down, it felt about 5 minutes as we weaved through the sky, taking in the spectacular views.
Although I was second to jump, quite a few others had landed before me. When you come in to land you pull your legs up, and as we touched the ground marcus told me to take a few steps, and we were down safely. Seconds later John landed just behind me, and our cameramen filmed our reactions as we landed, before we walked in to get our jumpsuits and harnesses removed.
Having never done anything like this before, we were both quite nervous and weren’t sure what to expect. But it was an amazing experience and anyone who thinks they might like to do on, do it!!