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Ninety seconds of free-falling rush

india Updated: Sep 05, 2009 23:59 IST
Deepti Patwardhan
Deepti Patwardhan
Hindustan Times
Deepti Patwardhan

Whenever I travel abroad, I try to experience a new adventure activity. During my last trip to Dubai, I decided to try out skydiving. The day I decided to attempt it,I couldn’t because the conditions were too windy to go skydiving, and I had to return the next day. But I’m glad that I did.

When you are going up, it’s just like flying in a rickety plane. Then the instructors start strapping you up and giving instructions, talking you through the entire process, and it almost seems unreal. At this point, one guy on the plane, who I think was undergoing training to become an instructor, got up, waved bye, and jumped out of the plane, which was at a height of about 6,000 feet! That’s when it hit me — I was actually going to do this!

I was going to be tandem diving, harnessed to an experienced skydiving instructor who had complete control over the dive. This is the safest way for a beginner, but what it also meant was that when you’re standing right at the door, trying to jump out of that plane, you don’t have enough time for second thoughts. The instructors just push you out. And once you are out there, you can either be scared or scream down all the way through.

Those 90-odd seconds of falling down, until the parachute opens up, give you an amazing rush! For the first few seconds you don’t know what’s happening; I think the body goes into shock. After that you just feel the wind hitting your face as you fall from a height of 10,000 feet. I could see clouds, stretches of sand and water, and a little bit of greenery.

I found that it’s not really difficult to recollect instructions like the best body position to hold while falling down. But with the instructors there to guide you, there’s little margin for error. Once the parachute opens, it’s like paragliding and you just drift around a bit. The instructor I dived with even started doing 360-degree circles, until I started feeling sick and asked him to stop.

I have tried adventure sports like white water rafting, but this experience was on a different level, offering unprecedented levels of thrill and excitement. Before the dive, I’d met many people who’d just been skydiving and kept saying how thrilling it was; but I only understood what they meant after I did it myself. It’s an experience that’s hard to put into words; you just have to try it.