Skydiving my new passion

Parachuting

Some people will tell you that parachuting is an extreme sport, a dangerous practice; the truth is, that after having done it myself all I can say it is that skydiving is the most fantastic experience one can have and despite the perception of danger, fatalities are rare in this sport, certainly worth the unbeatable feeling of freedom and the adrenalin rush that cannot compare to anything in the world. Once you have experienced the excitement of jumping out of an aeroplane at 4,000 meters (around 13,000 feet) altitude, and free-fall for almost a minute before activating a parachute, once you have glided the sky and admired the world under you from an entirely different perspective you will only want to repeat the experience again and again and again!

I can honestly say that after a year of admiring skydivers from the safety of my lounge chair and after my first jump, I am hooked to it. I can only dream about going back and jump again.

My free fall
My free fall

Different ways to learn Skydiving

The easiest way to get initiated is through a tandem jump. This means that you do your skydiving jump attached to an experienced monitor who is in charge of operating the parachute and assuring you a safe and smooth landing. During the tandem jump the jumpmaster is responsible for a stable exit from the plane, maintaining a proper stable freefall position, and activating and controlling the parachute. This is the best and safest way for novices to experience the thrill of the sport without having to worry.

The staff at Royan's skydiving school

A well deserved kiss from Shaft, the chef, and my jumpmaster, after a great jump
A well deserved kiss from Shaft, the chef, and my jumpmaster, after a great jump
Jhonny, another monitor from the Royan Skydiving shool
Jhonny, another monitor from the Royan Skydiving shool
With the Pilatus Pilot
With the Pilatus Pilot
Nico, Parachuting monitor.
Nico, Parachuting monitor.
Professional Skydivers folding parachutes for the next jump
Professional Skydivers folding parachutes for the next jump

My Experience Skydiving

Last year while visiting the resort town of Royan on the French Atlantic coast I made several friends from Royan’s school of parachuting. They invited me to see them skydiving and it was great to see them performing all sorts of acrobatics in the air. Since then I have been back several times just for the pleasure of seeing my friends jumping and enjoying the parties afterwards. I loved the environment; it is like a big family where everybody knows each other. They all get dressed and undressed in the same open hangar which also serves as a living room, parachute folding area, bicycle garage and nursery for their children. My children too loved the place, running around the aeroplanes, seeing the skydivers land with their colourful parachutes, playing around while waiting for their parents to jump, barbeques at the fall of dawn and much more. Skydivers come here from all over France and Europe, some to experience the thrill of their first jump while others come to improve their skills.

That is how for more than a year I faced the temptation to skydive. I had attempted to do it a couple of times before but I always got “cold feet” at the last minute. But finally my time came and I did it. Much to my surprise all my fears had disappeared and I was very reassured about the jump as my Tandem “jumpmaster” Francis Joinville, is the best at the sport. With more than 22000 jumps under his belt, an experienced Army man, and the experience of having captained the French Skydiving team for several years I gathered that I had nothing to fear with him.

Once I had decided to do my first tandem Jump everything went fast and smooth. I was briefed 30 minutes before the jump and felt ready for it.


Briefing:

Briefing is done a few minutes before the jump. One of the monitors explains to you the basics which more or less are:


1) The planes are very small so once you go in, you sit straddled on a bench with your back touching the chest of the person behind you.

2) You are asked to wear a harness before you go in the plane.

3) Once the plane has reached 4000m, the monitor/jumpmaster attaches himself to you and your harness. Quickly he reminds you the instructions to follow during the jump.

4) Preparing to jump, you sit at the edge of the plane with your legs bent under the plane and your head resting on the monitor’s shoulder. Your hands should be out of the way preferably holding the straps of your harness.

5) Take a deep breath and jump, continue breathing as normally as possible.

6) Once the monitor taps you on the shoulder after a few seconds free fall you must stretch out your arms. Your legs should be between the monitor’s legs and bent pointing upwards. Your position is belly down during the free fall.

7) Once the parachute is open you are allowed to straighten your legs. In my case the monitor put his legs around mine to keep my legs straight pointing down.

8) When the parachute opens you will feel a slight pull and then it stabilizes and you are allowed to hold on to the parachute’s handles to help glide it. You must keep your arms up and relax. Do not pull or you accelerate the fall.

9) For landing you must bend your legs, toes pointing up in front of you so it is the monitor who lands first and then you.


Briefing

Getting familiar with the plane
Getting familiar with the plane
Monitor showing me what to do during the free fall
Monitor showing me what to do during the free fall

The Jump


For my first jump everything went as expected. I had to go several times to the toilet before I went on the plane but apart from that I was calm. Once in the plane everything was fantastic. There were two expert skydivers, 2 camera men, and two monitors each with a student.

I was lucky to have known my monitor for more than a year. I had seen him jumping alone and tandem at least 10 times a day and I was reassured to know his credentials are impeccable. I felt very at ease with him not only as monitor but as close friend. The other passengers in the plane were equally relaxed and very jokey. We all enjoyed the flight over the coast. Once we reached the required altitude, the first two skydivers jumped and then it was my turn, just after my camera man. Funnily enough I was so excited that I was not scared. We sat at the edge of the plane I put my head on my monitor’s shoulders, my legs under the plane and we fell out.

The feeling is indescribable; emptiness, freedom, speed, beauty... I thought I would have trouble breathing but much to my surprise I had never breathed so deeply. I was in ecstasy because it was amazing with the world under me so small and the wind in my face. We were falling at around 200km/h and yet I felt secure and cocooned. There was a point when my monitor and the camera man held hands and did a few acrobatics. Just after that my camera man disappeared and my parachute opened, pulling and pressing against my chest. But everything was ok. My monitor was talking to me all the time, reassuring me or playing the tour guide showing me the coast, and the places where we had dined and partied. I was asked to hold my nose with one hand and blow air through my mouth to help decompressing just after the parachute opened. The glide was fantastic and I was not afraid one minute. I could not believe it, me, the one who cannot go in a roller coaster because I cannot breathe; I was parachuting and having the time of my life up there, joking with the monitor, feeling a freedom that I had never before experienced.

The time for landing came up very fast and I was asked to bend and lift my legs in front of me –like sitting on a chair- The landing was very smooth and right on the spot. I couldn’t believe that I had done it and I wanted to do it again and again. Like they say in France, “J’etais accro”.



My Tandem Jump!

The jump
The jump
Free fall
Free fall
gliding
gliding
landing
landing

My Skydiving experience

From left to right: Joinville the "Shaft jumpmaster", Juju the camera man, me and personal assistant.
From left to right: Joinville the "Shaft jumpmaster", Juju the camera man, me and personal assistant.

© 2009 Wendy Iturrizaga

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Comments 44 comments

SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 7 years ago from Southern California, USA

You look totally cute and happy sky diving Princessa! I know many people who have sky dived, but I am still too chicken to try it. I wonder if there is anything you cannot do, and I must say it would be hard to top this hobby.


Princessa profile image

Princessa 7 years ago from France Author

Hi SweetiePie I was literally "in the clouds" LOL cannot wait to go back and start my 6 jump course. In the meantime I need to content myself with trying to master the horseriding :)


charanjeet kaur profile image

charanjeet kaur 7 years ago from Delhi

Wow those are some amazing pics, wonder who was taking them while you were up in the air lol. Wonderful i must say you look so pretty and brave i have seen it a couple of times but never dared to take a step further than that. The pics and the hub is so well written i felt i was there watching you take a plunge. Gr8 hub and lovely pics dear.


fortunerep profile image

fortunerep 7 years ago from North Carolina

OH this is awesome!! I would love to do it alone but after my tandom jump, the temptataion subsided. Great pictures too!

dori


Eric Graudins profile image

Eric Graudins 7 years ago from Australia

I did some skydiving many years ago, and the cameraderie of the training centre was fantastic.

I didn't do a tandem jump - we jumped alone with a static line.

There was 2 days of training, culminating in our first jump on the Sunday afternoon.

The first jump was surreal - everything seemed to happen automatically, in slow motikon.

The second jump was quite scary - My mind was saying: You were lucky enough not to get killed the first time. What the bloody hell are you doing up here again?

Anyway I got throught that, and made many more totally enjoyable jumps.


Princessa profile image

Princessa 7 years ago from France Author

Hi charanjeet, the air pictures and video were taken by the official camera man Juju (he is the second one from the left on the last photo). Thanks for your kind words.

fortunerep : Me, I just want to do it again and again!

Eric: I am hoping to do the static line at some point, I must admit that it is scary to think about being on my own but I am hoping to get over fear after a few more tamdems until I am ready for my first "solo". Like you I absolutely love the camaradery and of course the parties :)


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

Hi Princessa, you are very brave. We have a friend who has a jump zone at Houston, Skydive Spaceland, but I still haven't done it. May be now I will!


Jaspal profile image

Jaspal 7 years ago from New Delhi, India

Great narration, one of the best I have read, of a novice skydiver's first experience. And the pics are super too. So, how many jumps do you have under the belt now?

I have never jumped, but have indulged in some other adventure activities, including para gliding. And, I have been to some of those paratrooper parties you mentioned. As you know first hand, there are no other celebrations which can match theirs! :p


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

Absolutely fabulous Princessa! All that and good looking men too. WOW!

Thanks for sharing - I'm inspired!


Singular Investor profile image

Singular Investor 7 years ago from Oxford

Excellent hub. Congratulations ! It sounded like a lot of fun. The next thing to try is wingsuits - there is a hub on them somewhere


RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada

This looks SO cool...you almost had me convinced, lol. But there is no way I could ever jump out of a plane at any height. Unless the plane was falling out of the sky, lol. Kudos to you, princessa - and great hub.


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

Good on you. I do not think I would have the nerve these days but would have loved to give a try many moons ago.


Triplet Mom profile image

Triplet Mom 7 years ago from West Coast

That is so awesome. More power to you, I am not sure that I have the stomach to do such a thing!!


Princessa profile image

Princessa 7 years ago from France Author

Gypsy Willow: hi, I absolutely recommend the experience. If you have the chance to do it... go for it!

Jaspal: lets say that I have more experience partying than skydiving :)

BkCreative: Yes the men are really good looking, tanned, fit and absolutely charming!

Singular Investor: Don't tempt me... I can resist anything but temptation!

RedElf : Thanks, it was really cool.

ethel smith: You never know, I didn't think I would be capable of doing something like that but now that I have done it I think I am capable of anything!

Triplet Mom: It was awesome, and like I mentioned it, after doing that, now I feel that I can do anything I want.


Hup Challenge profile image

Hup Challenge 7 years ago

This is so awesome!! I went skydiving a couple of years ago and it was AMAZING! p.s. I had no idea that you have a personal assistant -- how classy! :)


Princessa profile image

Princessa 7 years ago from France Author

Hi Hup, you should come and take the jump here sometime. I am amazed you are not having one of those "free fall weddings" It would have been so Hup :)


Erick Smart 7 years ago

Actually most extreme sports are not that dangerous. If done properly they are safer than driving down the road. I am a big rock climber and have gotten to skydive once, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.


Philipo profile image

Philipo 7 years ago from Nigeria

Congratulations! This is an experience worth having. A risk worth taking. You have a large hearth to have done this.


JPSO138 profile image

JPSO138 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines, International

Always wante to try this one out. Hopefully I will be able to do so. Great hub.


Princessa profile image

Princessa 7 years ago from France Author

Hi Erick, you are right, extreme sports are perceived as dangerous but in actuality it is more dangerous to drive a car than to skydive. In extremle sports you take all the precautions that you don't in everyday life which ends up making the sport quite safe.

Thanks Philipo: I cannot wait to go back!

JPSO: I hope you get the opportunity to go skydiving, it is a great experience.


mayhmong profile image

mayhmong 7 years ago from North Carolina

Bravo! You make it sound like its so much fun?! I probably do that if I will ever travel on a plane some day?


Princessa profile image

Princessa 7 years ago from France Author

mayhmong : thanks for the encouragement, if you ever have the opportunity to do it, go for it. Skidiving is a unique experience that compares to nothing you have done before.


Woody Marx profile image

Woody Marx 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Personally I get dizzy just standing on a thick carpet, but this hub was fun to read and now I'm so dizzy I have to go and lay down.


Princessa profile image

Princessa 7 years ago from France Author

Hi Woody, I am the type who can not go on big rides and gets dizzy just climbing up a little "horse carrousel" with my little ones, that is why it is so amazing for me that I have done this. I never thought I could do something like that and enjoy it so much.


Anath profile image

Anath 7 years ago

That's something I would love to do!


rvsrinivasan profile image

rvsrinivasan 7 years ago

Your explanation and photos are very nice. I have written few hubs on my experience and may please see.


lyricsingray 7 years ago

I've always wanted to do this and finally I feel rest-assured it's good to fly - I imagine the experience to be a spiritually freeing experience. Thanks for restoring my faith so that I may follow a dream and take a Jump! Kimberly


Princessa profile image

Princessa 7 years ago from France Author

Anath: go for it!

rvsrinivasan: thanks for commenting.

lyricsingray: It is a great experience, liberating, self assuring. I felt I could do anything after I did that! Skydiving has changed my outlook on life, nothing can stop me now :)


Mamelody profile image

Mamelody 6 years ago

wow what a fantastic hub hun! I love sky diving too and I did my stint when I was Australia. Although I've never had the courage to do a solo jump but would love that one day. I did it about five years ago and it was the ultimate thrill for me. It felt like having quadruple orgasms! Thanks for this now am going to resurrect my sky diving passion. Thanks for sharing!


Princessa profile image

Princessa 6 years ago from France Author

Mamelody: It was fantastic!! I was planning to go back and do the whole course to get my permission to jump alone last summer, but I had a bike accident and couldn't do it :(

If things go well this summer I'll back and this time I'll be doing a solo jump :)


Skydivers 6 years ago

Great! Thanks for sharing this informative article post.


funfix.com profile image

funfix.com 6 years ago from funfix.com

Love the pictures! Thank’s for sharing this experience!


Princessa profile image

Princessa 6 years ago from France Author

Skydivers: thanks for the visit, it was a pleasure!

funfix.com: It was a fantastic experience, I cannot wait for my next jump :)


sagebrush_mama profile image

sagebrush_mama 6 years ago from The Shadow of Death Valley...Snow Covered Mountain Views Abound!

I don't think I would have the nerve! Nope. Not even close! Great hub, though, and I love the idea of a tandem jump, should any of my loved ones get the opportunity to go!


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

Glad you enjoyed it! As for me, I've never even traveled by air and hope I don't ever have to!I'd be a blubbering fool! GRIN!


Princessa profile image

Princessa 6 years ago from France Author

sagebrush_mama: A tandem jump is the safest way to experience the skydiving thrill. It is something I would strongly recommend. The only bad thing about it is that once you start doing it, you always want more and more and it is not really the cheapest sport to practice...

bayoulady: I loved it, in fact I am going back tomorrow for an inititation weekend, hopefully I'll be able to do it on my own very soon :-)


soni2006 profile image

soni2006 6 years ago from New Delhi, India

I also love adventure sports. I did paragliding, river crossing, river rafting but I have never did skydiving. Thanks a lot Princessa for sharing your new passion with us. It is really amazing as it depicts in your pics.


Princessa profile image

Princessa 6 years ago from France Author

soni: I haven't done the paragliding YET, but I've been rafting in the Urubamba (Peru) and the Potomac (USA)I loved it. Extreme sports are so energizing that you can never have enough of them.


ralwus 6 years ago

Well good for you! But I wouldn't do it gorgeous. No freakin' way! There is a place in West Virginia for people like you that can jump off a high bridge over a very deep gorge; much cheaper and thrilling as well.


Princessa profile image

Princessa 6 years ago from France Author

Ralwus: come on... what's if I earn my "wings", wouldn't you do a tamdem with me?


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

There is no way in hell I'll ever skydive!


livelonger profile image

livelonger 6 years ago from San Francisco

What a great hub and a great video! Diving over the French coastline looks *gorgeous*!!


andy 10 months ago

Wow wendy flying without peter pan


Princessa profile image

Princessa 10 months ago from France Author

Everything is possible with a pinch of Pixie Dust ;-)

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