Last year, I was at the summit of Japan’s tallest mountain. It was a 12-hour hike to reach the peak, 3,776 m above sea level. This year, I aimed a little higher. As I already did bungee jumping, parasailing and tandem paragliding before, this time, I wanted to do something else, and that is to dance with the clouds.
Firstly, I have to give credit to my officemate, who is a licensed skydiver,
for convincing me to try tandem skydiving. I convinced her, she said. I was originally scheduled to jump last March but due to the bad weather, it was cancelled. There had been plans to re-schedule the dive but there was one MAJOR problem – air cameraman was not available until the first week of August. (Only to found out that he is using a Canon camera). And since this will be my first try, I wanted everything to be documented, not only by video but by photos too. Hey, I have to blog about it.
After everything was fixed, I started watching youtube videos about tandem skydiving. It was such a bad idea as it made me more scared. I stopped watching a week before the scheduled dive.
The day arrived, it was perfect. The sky was blue and clouds were dancing to the sounds of the planes and of my heartbeat. Nah, kidding! We arrived at Tokyo Skydiving Club in Honda Airport, Okegawa-shi, Saitama around 1100H. The place was so busy, skydivers coming back and forth, others practicing their skydive formation and unlicensed ones like me kept sweating because of the heat. In all honesty, I wasn’t scared at all. Not until I heard my name that I will be joining the 1200H noon skydiving group. Aki-san, my tandem master, gave me a quick instruction on how to do the tandem skydive correctly, starting with the banana position. He assured me that everything will be fine. And we are off to take the Cessna Caravan (C-208).
The C-208 is a small plane and can carry 20 people. There were 8 tandems in our batch, 4 solo skydivers and 1 air cameraman (Naoki-san), solely to document my survival. Everyone was seated on the floor just like in war films. It took 15-20 mins before we reached the skydiving point, 4,000 meters above sea level. Just before the roll-up door was opened after the pilot’s instruction, solo skydivers started shaking my hands, wishing me good luck. I thought, oh wow, this could be my last day. And I may be the first one to have an SDE (same day edit) video in case something bad happens.
After the solo skydivers flew out of the window, it’s time for tandems to get ready. Aki-san and I were the first one. For me, being at the edge of the door while waiting for my tandem master’s instruction was the scariest part of the dive. I think I finished the five mysteries of the Holy Rosary in 2 seconds. I was told to be in a banana position to avoid looking down. Being in that position made me and the master as one. I can see the Naoki-san taking videos and photos but I couldn’t smile because we were about to
AND EVERYTHING WAS IN BLUE AND WHITE. I was a ghost.
Free-fall was about 50 seconds at a speed of 200 km/hr and all I have to do is to trust my master. He tapped my shoulder, a signal that I can spread my arms and fly. Very funny but I noticed in most of the photos, I am doing peace signs. I think unconsciously I was giving my plea to any angels and demons that may appear mid-air that I still want to stay on earth.
Floating for additional 2-3 minutes give me a chance to see real-life google map. Haha! That sudden pull after the parachute was opened was simply indescribable. It’s like being taken into another dimension.
IT WAS A GREAT EXPERIENCE. It made me love Japan more. I’ve been doing lots of crazy stuff here and I am still alive. The only blooper I can think of was during the landing. I was initially instructed to raise my legs and land on my bum but Aki-san said we may try standing while landing. I haven’t heard him screaming “STAND UP! STAND UP!” but it was caught on video. I was too overwhelmed realizing that I am still alive.
Very funny! If you find this blog too long, just click the video.
Yes, I still want to do a sunset jump if the schedule permits. I also have to thank Mika-san for convincing me to try. Also to my officemate-cum-cheerleaders. Aki-san for all the support during the dive. Naoki-san, for the great photos and videos. Honestly, if I can choose my part-time job, I would love to be an air cameraman. But before doing that, I have to be a licensed skydiver. Perhaps, in another lifetime.