Yesterday I had the pleasure of accompanying Gavin on my first trip to the skydive drop zone in Cape Town. We collected our clients, a Norwegian couple from a nearby Hotel. This was to be their first jump, they were on a roll having successfully survived the shark cage dive we had arranged for them the day before. My guess was that they must have just recently met and were still in the stages of “trying to impress one another”, neither of them looked terrified. I kept sneaking a peak at them in the rear view mirror to see if I could get a glimpse of some panic but they were genuinely amped! In matching turquoise windbreakers they seemed a little too calm for me.
The drop zone was totally not what I expected. There was a faint whiff of anxiety but I realised soon that it was my own. An awesome little café, serving nice strong coffee and then the sudden aroma of fried bacon and egg! A rustic, yet funky outside area with couches and a large coffee table. The kind of place you want to hang out in for longer, but there just isn’t time.
The Hangar itself is a whole different world. Everyone is happy, smiling, cheerful, welcoming, energised and excited to see you. I had that moment where I kind of wished I was jumping too! (and then it passed). If you close your eyes you can hear Kenny Rogers playing – “Danger Zone” … (literally).
The walls are covered in amazing photographs taken from the air, all of them awesome. I’m finding great humour in their facial expressions and air filled flapping cheeks.
The recording of jumps is being televised in the “Prep Area” and the re-run of the previous groups DVD is starting to roll. Like the wheels on a bicycle everything runs perfectly. This is all because of Jonathan. Jonathan is super organised, friendly and he knows his stuff. He’s the go to guy for admin management and any questions. He preps you on all that you need to know on the ground.
Two young guys are methodically packing away the parachutes from the previous jump, they look like they are performing a ritual. The concentration and precision they work with has me quite hypnotised.
Mark is the Chief Instructor and the Head of Skydive Safety in South Africa. He has an awesome sense of humour but with really bad timing. I understand he’s the best in the business. I also suspect he reads people well.
Gerry has more than 20 years’ experience under his belt. He is professional and takes his job seriously. I overheard a visitor ask Gerry if he could jump with his own GoPro. Gerry was very informative, he stopped what he was doing and explained “In the unlikely event that something went wrong, the instructors are experienced enough to handle an emergency with their own equipment, CAMS, etc. but that there had been nasty stories about strings getting caught on extremities and GoPros being one of them, in these situations one cannot always be prepared for this so their rule is absolutely NOT. I liked Gerry immediately.
All strapped up in safety gear, our Norwegian couple head slowly out the hanger and along the run way towards the plane. (No mirage shimmering on the tarmac, but it does seem like they are walking in slow motion).
The flight up to 9000 feet takes approx. 20 minutes. It feels like forever. Gavin is pointing at the sky showing me where the plane is but it is too small for me to see even if I squint. And then I see them little free falling pebbles. They fall like stones. I’m speechless. They fall fast. Gavin tells me they freefall for 30 seconds and then open their shoot. Then suddenly whoosh and the parachute opens. Some are swirling in circles (which I discover is “for fun”) others are gently coming down like a bird about to land gracefully. I realise soon that the screaming from our client is pure excitement and exhilaration. She is in her element. The landing is soft and smooth and almost “surreal”. Followed by fits of laugher, loud banter and comments like, “I want to do that again, ah what a rush”…Excited they turn to Gavin and ask what other adventure they could do that day!!!!!!
We load them back into the vehicle and I mentally “in pencil” put it right on top of my bucket list.