Skydiving a one-of-a-kind experience

As featured on NINETOFIVE, 24 November 2011

Roller-coasters? Been there.

Water skiing? Done that.

I like to think that I’m quite the thrill seeker and in my lifetime I’ve been lucky enough to experience some of the best adrenaline rushes Sydney has to offer, but there has always been one in particular I have wanted to tick off the bucket list, but the reality was that I was just too scared to do it.

Until now.

Skydiving is one of those experiences that pretty much freaks everyone out. Why? Because in our minds, we have absolutely no control over the outcome.

Basically, you’re agreeing to throw yourself out of a plane 14,000 feet above the ground, with only a parachute to save you from plummeting face first into the ground.

Scared yet?

What’s important to note here is that by signing up to skydive, you’re not signing your life away.

Statistics show that 1 in 10,000 skydives result in accident or injury. When comparing these stats to the 9.8 per cent of registered cars in reported accidents in NSW,  you realise that you’re actually in more danger hopping into your car than you are jumping out of a plane.

While holidaying in Melbourne last month, I took the plunge (literally) and skydived over St. Kilda beach through Skydive the Beach Melbourne, courtesy of RedBalloon.

RedBalloon acts as an agent for hundreds of experience providers. In fact, there are over 2500 experiences to choose from. It’s a one-stop shop for experience gifts, which makes finding the perfect gift for anyone convenient and easy.

Unfortunately for Sydneysiders, there are no companies that skydive directly out of the city.

According to the Australian Parachute Federation, the regulating and governing body of skydiving in Australia, this is due to airspace issues. To have skydivers jumping directly out of the city would create issues for air traffic control, considering our international and domestic terminals are right nearby.

So, no matter what, you’ll have to travel at least an hour.

Skydive the Beach have headquarters in North Wollongong (an hour away and the only beach skydive in Sydney), and if my experience in Melbourne was anything to go by, then North Wollongong will blow your socks off (luckily, not literally).

So how does it work?

After check in, you’re given skydiving gear (prepare yourselves, this clothing is not flattering at all), meet your professional tandem instructor and are then transferred to Albion Park Regional Airport (in Wollongong’s case).

After take off, the journey to 14,000 feet above the ground takes in picturesque views of South Coast beaches and the Illawarra escarpment. I hear you can even see whales and dolphins during the season.

The flight is probably more nerve wracking than the actual jump. Anticipation is the creator of nerves, but once you jump (or pushed, in my case), you freefall for around 60 seconds until the tandem parachute is activated.

Freefalling is an experience like no other. When freefalling, you don’t experience the kind of stomach lurches you do on a rollercoaster because you’re accelerated by gravity. Imagine sticking your head out of a car at 230 km/ph. That’s what a freefall feels like.

After that, it’s smooth sailing. For around five minutes, you’re one with the sky.

There’s also the option of purchasing a DVD of your jump, with photos ready to take home within an hour of landing.

It’s important to note that the instructors at Skydive the Beach are extremely professional and friendly. I highly recommend my instructor, ‘Big Kev Decourcey’, who rotates his time between Wollongong and Melbourne. This guy is somewhat intimidating to look at, but he really has a way at calming nerves. He certainly did in my case.

Also, be sure to keep the entire day free as there may be delays. We were by a couple of hours due to bad weather and unfortunately, there’s just nothing that can be done.

To finish off, I’ll quote from their website, which sums it up perfectly.

“Skydive the Beach Sydney is an experience that you will remember forever.  Beat your fears, push your personal boundaries and step outside your comfort zone, once you’ve taken the plunge you will feel like you can achieve anything.”

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