Diving with the sky gods

Umm al-Quwain Travel Blog

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An old Russian plane used for advertising the Palm Beach Hotel

Always wanting to experience the thrill of jumping out of the plane and free falling, I decided to try out the tandem skydiving at the Umm Al Quwain Aeroclub, the only Aeroclub in the UAE about 90mins drive from Dubai. Together with a colleague, we booked a session on a Friday afternoon.

Being a weekend, it was quite busy at the Aeroclub as there were a number of others doing the tandem jump and a few other students getting ready to do their solo jumps. We went to the demo room and waited for our turn while watching the others putting on their jumpsuits, being trained, got out to the field where the plane was and off they went. It was getting really exciting! The jumpmaster was Evgeny from Russia who had already done over 9,000 jumps. So we knew we were in very experienced hands.

Getting ready in my bright red jumpsuit
 

Then our turn finally came. We put on our jumpsuits and the harness was strapped and fixed onto us. We were then lectured on the proper exit technique, free fall and landing positions. And we did some trial free falling positions with a board on the ground, with the legs bent upwards, back arched and the arms opened up in a flying position.

We went out to the field where the tiny Cessna aircraft took off and landed for the nth time that day. On the plane, Evgeny explained again on the exit technique and we did a trial before getting ready for the take off. Together with us on the same plane was Mark from Skygod Productions, the video maker, and three other students doing their solo jumps. Because it was only a small plane, we would fly up to the jumping height of only 10,000 ft, jump off and free fall for a minute and then gradually descent for about 5 mins.

With Evgeny, the tandem jumpmaster

I was told that it would be like eternity up there especially during the free fall. For me, it was the 20 mins ride in the small and noisy aircraft to the jumping height that was like an eternity.

When we reached the jumping height, the three solo jumpers got ready, saluted and jumped off. Wow, so cool! Then it was my turn!! Evgeny harnessed me onto him and moved to the exit. As we prepared to jump, he shouted  all these instructions over the howling wind again and I nodded with thrill.

When I give the signal, get your feet on the jump board and wait. I will ask you for an ok, then we will count 1 -- 2 -- 3, and at 3 we will jump, ok? When we jump, we will fall head first. And as soon as we are in position, leave your harness,  stretch out your hands, bend your knees and try to keep your back arched.

With Mark, the video taker

To move my feet out onto the board and get into position was a real struggle with the sheer force of the wind rushing past. But I got into position and then all I heard was “Let’s go!”

Everything happened too quickly. Before I knew what was happening, I was turned upside down, hurtling towards Mother Earth at 125mph.We dropped like a rock and then suddenly, we were in the free-fall position and everything around seemed to freeze and stand still. Yes, this is such a contrasting description but the scenario unfolding in front of us was the beautiful blue sea and the deserts and we seemed to be just hanging in the air or rather, floating in the air. It was such a surreal feeling!

Then with a sudden jerk, the parachute snapped opened and brought me back to reality. The minute of free-falling was over and we descended for the next 4 mins back to earth. This was all so exciting and I could not believe it was over! I watched the earth loomed up towards us and heard Evgeny go Legs up, up, up, up! as he brought us down for a smooth landing.

Game over ... that was all too quick but extremely thrilling!

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An old Russian plane used for adve…
An old Russian plane used for adv…
Getting ready in my bright red jum…
Getting ready in my bright red ju…
With Evgeny, the tandem jumpmaster
With Evgeny, the tandem jumpmaster
With Mark, the video taker
With Mark, the video taker
Having the practical lesson of how…
Having the practical lesson of ho…
Final adjustments
Final adjustments
So sad, the thrill is over ... com…
So sad, the thrill is over ... co…
Whoosh, down I come!
Whoosh, down I come!
Landed happily :-)
Landed happily :-)
Thank you for the wonderful experi…
Thank you for the wonderful exper…
With the Russian diving instructor…
With the Russian diving instructo…
Looking a bit worried
Looking a bit worried
Smiling happily at the great exper…
Smiling happily at the great expe…
And plonk, down he comes!
And plonk, down he comes!
Umm al-Quwain
photo by: mountaingirl