“Okay! Just wrap your legs around the belly of the plane!” shouted my instructor. You know… the guy that was literally strapped to my body.
It’s a few years since I tried skydiving, now, but I distinctly remember the pit in my gut when my legs dangled outside of the tiny plane. Legs should be INSIDE the plane!!! Every piece of my being was protesting. What was I thinking?
Scroll back to how I got here in the first place. I was on my very first Contiki tour, traveling south down the east coast of Australia. We’d survived all the creepy crawly spiders, the box jellyfish, the mysterious bird-like creature in the Cape Tribulation area and even crocodiles (heck, I even tried crocodile soup). Apparently, having survived this long, I thought it was a good idea to opt for some adventure and hurl my body out of an airplane from thousands of feet in the air.
Bright idea, Victoria.
Only one other Contiki-er was on this crazy adventure with me. She was a smack-talking South African who had no fear and was all “I’ve swam with Great White Sharks, I’ve got this!” Me? I was starting to shake in my little parachute vest.
We arrived at Gold Coast Skydive and suited up. It all seemed to happen so quickly. Not a lot of discussion about what would be happening. I mean, ultimately the instructor is in charge. I was shown where I would put my arms in freefall and given some indication of what it would be like, but really… that was it!
We piled into the little plane with its open door and began take off. You could barely hear each other as we rose higher and higher, the rumble of the engine drowning out everything else. My instructor began to strap us together, me practically sitting in his lap.
Smack-talk girl seemed oddly quiet, but I assumed it was because there was no point in talking – we couldn’t be heard. The pilot gave the signal and her instructor began to shuffle her towards the open door. Her eyes went wide and she vigorously began shaking her head.
“I can’t! I can’t! I don’t want to do this!” she yelled above the engine.
Her instructor rolled her eyes and shouted back, “You’ve swum with sharks!”
And with that, they fell out of the plane and into thin air.
We shuffled forward and I did as my instructor said, wrapping my legs beneath the plane. Seriously… weirdest feeling, not natural, not supposed to happen. Why?
He tilted my head back so I was staring at the sky… and then my stomach and my body separated as we fell through the air.
We tumbled for a few seconds, what felt like an eternity, until we levelled off with the ground. At one point, the force of the rushing air almost felt like I was being pushed up. It was so bizarre. My cheeks flapped and rolled with the wind and I’m sure my face was priceless.
Finally our parachute opened and we temporarily shot back up in the air. That’s when things slowed and my heart started back up again! My instructor let me take the reins for a bit, no doubt with a backup in case I royally screwed things up. I pulled down on my right and we took a little turn to the left. I’d pull on my left and we’d go back to the right. I could feel the biggest smile on my face as we peacefully soared towards the ocean.
Wait… what? Towards the ocean?
He took back the reins as we were coming closer and closer to the ground… except there was no longer any ground. We were literally flying over the ocean away from dry land. I cannot die at sea! I started imagining awful scenarios where I got tangled in wet parachute fabric.
We took a sharp turn and spun 180 degrees back towards the clear stretch of beach.
“Lift you legs,” he shouted. I complied and suddenly landed with a ‘thump’, my butt making contact with the compact sand.
And there it was, an experience that both felt excruciatingly long and sadly too short all at the same time. It will forever go down in my books as one of the craziest days of my life, one where I officially felt like a badass (only until I look back at the first picture of this post), and one where I was proud of myself for getting out of my comfort zone.
What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done while traveling?