I’m poised on the edge of a tiny Cessna airplane with no door, 10 000 feet above the hazy curve of the distant ground, about to hurtle myself into the abyss. Waldo, my instructor, explains that we’ll need to hook our feet under the edge of the plane for the exit.
I nod, but the mist of adrenaline and a surreal, dreamlike sensation numbs my senses. I watch, mouth agape, as the cameraman drops out into the air and then it’s our turn. Waldo counts to three and where we were in the airplane the one moment, the next we are hit with a cold, rushing wall of air that knocks the wind right out me as we freefall, tiny dots speeding ever closer to the patchwork ground below.
Just one hour before I’d been happily fetched by the Mother City SkyDiving team, and driven, along with a group of excited fellow tourists, to the Drop Zone – an hour out of Cape Town. My crew of fellow first-time skydivers and I excitedly chatted as we journeyed out into the flat and dry countryside – the cityscape giving way to farm and wine country as we neared our destination at Diepkloof Airfield – just past Malmesbury on the N7.
The Mother City SkyDiving crew greeted us with shouts of enthusiasm as we disembarked, the vibe happy and relaxed – helping to assuage the mounting nerves.
After explaining that we’d go up in groups of two (four in total with our tandem jumpers), the crew strapped us into our harnesses and introduced us to our tandem instructors – their jokes helping to ease the silence that had dampened the atmosphere of our previously chatty party.
Before long it was my turn to head off to our toy-like airplane, just a quick bump along a dusty road away. We clambered into the stripped away interior, settled between our instructors and took off almost immediately – a far cry from a commercial flight. 1000 feet and we could see views of the Paarl monument and pinched and undulating curves of the mountains below.
At 3000 feet, we could spot Table Mountain, Kasteelberg and even Robben Island far out in the Cape Coastline – Waldo pointing out interesting landmarks as we rose ever higher. 10 000 feet (3 times the height of Table Mountain), a good 30 minutes’ flight later, and the curve of the earth stripped away any ability to judge distance – a good thing if you’ve got any inclining of a fear of heights.
After the initial shock that falling out of airplane entails, Waldo tapped me on the shoulder- reminding me to stretch out my arms and enjoy the sensation of flying. I reluctantly obliged and felt free – the tight clench of fear giving way to a joyous sensation. Tommy – our camera flyer grabbed my hand mid-air and I squeezed open my goggled eyes to catch a glimpse of his grinning face – encouraging me to give the GoPro a thumb’s up. As my mind (and stomach) caught up with me, I felt the upward whoosh of our parachute opening – jolting us upwards and stopping our rapid decent.
We floated gently back down and what was a rushing sensation became serene and utterly peaceful – the feeling of suspension in mid-air oddly calming and not at all alarming. As we gracefully arced our way towards the bloom of the orange flare- smoke to alert the instructors about the wind direction – Waldo allowed me to steer our flight before bringing us to a safe landing.
In what felt like mere moments it was all over – our feet touching the dusty ground lightly as we ran along, the once proud arc of our yellow wings deflated once more.
With windblown hair and a shaky voice, I fumblingly thanked everyone involved – giving a series of victorious high-5s before making my way back to the Drop Zone area to enjoy a well-earned sugary snack from the little kiosk at hand.
I wish I’d known just how much fun and how little there was to fear before I’d soared. But as the kind and wise instructors said – the more you jump, the more you’re able to fully absorb and appreciate the mind-blowing sensation that is Sky Diving in the Cape.
Luckily, I could relive the sensation just a few days later as I received my expertly edited video and series of photos – memories I’ll treasure forever (or at least until my next sky-high adventure). Visit our Cape Grace Facebook Page to view the full video experience.
Book Your Tandem Sky Diving Adventure with Mother City SkyDiving – Cape Town:
Blog post by: Tarah Darge
copyright © Cape Grace 2016