Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A feeling of emptiness...jumping into infinity – My First Sky Dive!!

An event of days gone by...My first sky dive!!

I was all excited and pumped when Sunil Shinde (my boss from Aditi Technologies) asked me if I would be interested in sky diving that weekend. I immediately answered in the affirmative. So, it was Sunil Shinde, Prashanth Kota and me who finally confirmed and we went ahead and booked ourselves with Blue Skies Skydiving Adventures, Inc., a sky diving institute based at Port Orchard in Washington state.

We kept our fingers crossed as the weather was a bit on the dark side and we needed a bright sunny day to go ahead with the dive as per the sky diving institute. The day came and we drove down to Port Orchard from Bellevue (a 2 and a half hour drive) in Sunil's car.

The excitement or should I say, a mix of fear and adrenalin kept increasing as we neared our destination. After paying for the dive, the 3 of us, were taken to the equipment room (for the lack of a better word) for a quick briefing on the do's and dont's. We were told that only one of us would be able to jump at a time as their plane had already been booked with other sky diving students. So it was decided that Sunil would go first, me next and Prashanth last.

Once Sunil got all padded up and left for his jump, Prashanth and I started contemplating the feeling we would undergo when our turns came. I was getting all fidgety in eager anticipation. Finally, Sunil returned and it was my turn.

I got all padded up, walked into the blue skies adventure van with my instructor 'Shawn' and my videographer 'John' and we made our way to the Bremerton airfield where our little 10 seater plane was waiting for us. John's handy cam was in motion as soon as the plane set itself in motion. My eyes were glued to the altimeter on John's wrist as we were supposed to jump from an altitude of 12,500 feet above MSL.

As we were ascending, I got to view amazing landscapes of Mt. Rainier and the Puget Sound region. 5,000 feet...The door of the plane was kept open and it was getting chillier as we climbed up. 8,000 feet...Shawn, my instructor was tying his harness onto mine as this was supposed to be a tandem jump.

While tying he gave me some advice of how I should buck my hip when I exit the aircraft so as to prevent my head (owing to my tall frame) from hitting the door entrance. 11,000 fear factor and adrenalin increased.

12,500 feet...the sky  diving students went first - static line sky diving and accelerated free falls. Finally, my turn came...I bucked my hips and off I went spiralling into infinity. I did 360 degrees twice and went face down towards mother earth for a couple of seconds before Shawn pulled off his stabilizer and we were restored to some level of stability with our stomachs and faces pointed towards the earth.

This was when I realized that John, my videographer, was busy capturing me on video. The next few seconds were spent smiling at the camera and mid-air handshakes. I could feel my cheeks being blown out of proportion due to the heavy wind velocity (we were dropping at an approximate terminal velocity of 120 mph). During the spin my shoe laces had come off. I was hoping that my shoe stayed put else some pour soul might get his head rammed by a 120 mph shoe and thereby saved me the guilt.

I could see Mt. Rainier in one view, the Puget sound in the other, my videographer in yet another. I felt as if I was seeing everything in micro seconds must faster than my vision of time in the life that I have lived so far. All of a sudden, I felt a sudden force pull me up. I was shit scared for a wee moment thinking something unthinkable happened, but to my happiness, realized that we had descended to the altitude of 5,000 feet and hence Shawn had pulled the parachute out. As we started chuting downwards, Shawn gave me controls to the chute and gave me operational instructions and landing directions. The chute experience felt uneventful as my mind was still in a free fall. Finally, we landed on our butts at the Blue Skies campus. The feeling was slowly sinking in. But, if someone were to ask me how it felt, I would have replied "You need to experience it, words can't describe that feeling".

Here are some quick quantifiables on my tandem sky dive:
a) Max height of dive: 12,500 feet
b) Free fall time: 54 seconds (from 12,500 feet to 5,000 feet)
c) Parachute engaged at: 5,000 feet
d) Parachuting time: ~3 and a half minutes

My first sky dive was a pure thrill that surpassed everything that I had experienced till that time ever in my life. Something that I will treasure till my end. I would like to thank Sunil Shinde for having invited me to this dive, for organizing the entire event, for driving us to and fro and for keeping me amazing company. And, Blue Skies Adventures for being such a professional and trust-inducing adventure outfit.

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