Most people who visit Prague are interested in the immense history of this charming city. Enthralled with structures like this:
Which is understandable and holds my interest as well.
Once in a while I seek out something different.
When I found out a company called Sky Service offered tandem skydiving jumps, that inner voice told me to do it.
Sometimes we simply have goals that we want to accomplish and I knew leaving this earth without skydiving just once would rack me with regret in old age. Nobody’s sole employment in old age should be regret.
I wanted to know what it feels like to jump out of an airplane.
Prague is known for its unsettling history with communism and architecture ranging from Renaissance to Baroque that literally leaves jaws slack with wonder.
Is Prague known for fun? Sure, on the backpacker party circuit it is. I desired something atypical.
Sky Service uses a little airport located about 100 km from the city center. All I had to do was meet at their offices near the historic area, sign a few waiver forms and hop into a van with five other skydiving hopefuls.
I noticed it was a dismal, cloudy day and I asked our driver, Tomas, if these conditions are ideal.
“Sun doesn’t matter. Clouds help you determine speed. You fall through a cloud and feel the condensation and cold – neat feeling. Blue sky won’t give you that reference.”
Tomas calls himself inexperienced at only 80 jumps. He’s knows skydivers with over 12,000 jumps in their logbook. I could only grasp that I was about to do one and muse on free falling through clouds.
Tandem skydiving is accomplished in three easy steps. 1) Put on the jumpsuit and harness. 2) Get on the plane and don’t think about it. 3) Jump out with your eyes open and don’t scream. (Or close your eyes if the dry heaves come on.)
I’ll show you.
Smiling through the fear as she puts the harness on me (the one that will attach me to the instructor).
I’ll let you in on a little secret, the harness has to be taut. Let’s just say I now know what a jock strap feels like.
My reaction upon finding out that I will be the first of my group to jump and I have to dangle outside the aircraft, with my legs hooked around the underside of the plane before I plunge 4,o00 meters. DEAR GOD.
Getting in, last chance to back out. Beside me is my instructor, the man I will be attached to, who I rely on to pull the parachute and keep me alive. When I asked, he said he’s accomplished 8,000 jumps. In video games. Such a joker (heh… hopefully).
Sky Service uses compact airplanes for jumps – a PAC 750 XL.
Hyped or crazy – you decide.
In position and about to leap from the plane. To let go of everything. Expectation, trust and control.
Saying goodbye to safety and security.
At about 3,000 meters, sticking my tongue out at an ordinary life.
As for falling through clouds? At 3,000 meters I heard nothing but wind at a velocity that shook my head so violently, I lost sense of time or place. My blurred vision caught splashes of blue and white, but my mind forgot what they represented. A wall of cold shocked my system, numbing my cheeks and fingers, seeping underneath my hair follicles to the core of my brain. All I could do was surrender to it.
Consciousness speared my discombobulated senses. I awoke. To my body hovering in the sky. My back arching to the forces of nature. And the only thing with me were my breath and heartbeat, two components of humanity that I couldn’t hear or feel at that altitude.
I told myself, let the fall happen.
It was alien. Surreal. Nothing in my knowledge base can even reference it. An experience I couldn’t duplicate if I tried.
In short: awesome.
When the parachute is pulled and the body relaxes, this is what the mind processes. The breadth of beauty, light and life.
As we twirled and peered at the earth below, I pondered ‘love’. How we close ourselves off from it, whether that means loving our surroundings, ourselves or each other.
If anything, skydiving made me love more. Appreciate what we all take for granted.
Back on solid ground, I am lightheaded, but serene.
Most of all, I did it!! I have video to prove these were not photoshopped. You’ll see live action evidence of my glory soon, I promise.
A tandem jump costs CZK 3,800/$192 USD. A tandem jump with video and a DVD of photos costs CZK 5,800/$294 USD. If you’d like to book a tandem jump with Sky Service, visit their website or connect with them on Twitter or Facebook.
- Refrain from eating too much before the jump, an upset stomach is the last thing you need.
- Use the bathroom facilities before you put on the jumpsuit, once you are wearing one, it’s very difficult to heed the call of nature.
- Sky Service gives a quick training session that includes visual aids. So don’t panic if you forget to do something. Also, the instructor will guide you on how to position your heads and legs. It comes fairly naturally once you are in the sky.
- Most of all, relax and go with the flow. Enjoy your jump!
Prague Castle photo courtesy of David Van der Linde.
Photos of my tandem jump are courtesy of Sky Service.