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Leap of faith

If you were to imagine an Indian female who is an avid skydiver, it is almost certain that a 41-year-old housewife would not come to your mind as a possible candidate. Priti Lohia, however, defies the stereotype.

entertainment Updated: Apr 09, 2011 13:40 IST
Shweta Mehta

If you were to imagine an Indian female who is an avid skydiver, it is almost certain that a 41-year-old housewife would not come to your mind as a possible candidate. Priti Lohia, however, defies the stereotype.

With six jumps under her belt in a short span of time, the Juhu resident needs four more to become a licensed skydiver, which will enable her to perform the stunt anywhere in the world, unescorted.

“I always watched adventure sports on TV and wanted to do them. I did plenty of research and found many places across Europe where I could try skydiving without prior experience. Age was also not an issue. They assured me that even 65-year-olds had tried it successfully,” she says, adding, “My first experience was at a small village in Spain, around an hour’s drive from Madrid.”

Priti considers herself fortunate to have had access to trained instructors, mental strength, funds to back her expensive hobby and most importantly, support of her family. Recalling her first jump, she says, “It was the best experience. I felt like a bird flying in the sky. Once you jump, you’re all on your own. It’s quite exciting to navigate yourself successfully to the drop site on your own.”

The exhilaration of free falling from an aircraft at a great height has managed to remain thrilling for Priti, despite skydiving numerous times. And she plans to continue in this vein for as long as she can. “The thrill increases with every jump. Up there, it just feels like heaven,” she explains.

Her next plunge, and arguably her most daring one till date, will be in June, when she will skydive at Mount Everest. However, her dream dive is one that may take a while to happen. Ask her where it would be, and she instantly says, “I’d love to jump in Antarctica.”

Jump off
Wollongong, Sydney, Australia
Cost: Rs 13,200
Watch whales and dolphins flapping around as you take this 14,000 feet plunge, which offers a view of Sydney and the Australian coastline.

Seville, Spain
Cost: Rs 11,670
For first-timers, this 10,000 feet drop is a great bargain. The more adventurous can avail of the 15,000 feet option at € 205, also considered a steal. Early morning is the best time to visit.

Zambia
Cost: Rs 10,170 – 13,480
Choose from three options between 6,000-10,000 feet drops above Victoria Falls, the highest waterfall on Earth. Lucky ones may even see a rainbow in favourable conditions.

Hawaii
Cost: Rs 9,950
Get a panoramic view of the entire island, including Diamond Head, Pearl Harbor, Kaena Point and local marine life. Their energy efficient planes mean that you reduce your skydiving carbon footprint by a whopping 40 per cent.

Le Marche, Italy
Cost: Rs 11,100
Along the coast of the Adriatic Sea, this skydiving center is located in the little seaside town of Porto san Giorgio. Enjoy a view of the azure sea, velvet beaches and long tree-lined avenues.

Namibia
Cost: Rs 12,550
A jump in the desert offers a view like no other – an endless expanse of sand dunes and blue skies, devoid of wildlife, greenery or concrete. This 10,000 feet fall promises around five minutes of desert beauty, quite unlike other skydiving sceneries you may encounter.

Mauritius
Cost: Rs 18,080 – 25,300
A little heavy on the pocket, but this is one of the only locations where children under 12 years of age can accompany you. Between 10,000-15,000 feet jump ranges, here’s an offer that tourists in the tiny island may find hard to resist.

Fox Glacier, New Zealand
Cost: Rs 8,430 – 10,150
The adventure capital of the world offers top-notch facilities, even at 9,000-12,000 feet above land. Throw in a view of the Franz Josef Glacier, Tasman Sea and several lakes and rainforests, and you’ll see why this is one of the best locations in the world to take the plunge.

Interlaken, Switzerland
Cost: Rs 18,120
Arguably one of the most popular spots for backpackers and tourists, the snow-capped Alps attract several skydivers every year, and for good reason.

*Prices are indicative

Everest, Nepal
Cost: Rs 10,62,000
In the event that some rich uncle croaks and you inherit a hefty fortune, blow it up here! With only four trips in a year, advance booking and payment up to six months in advance is required. Rest assured, this will be a life-changing fall.