(Long Loooong post :P)
The date was 25th April 2009. On this day, 2 very sane risk takers went on a road trip to Segamat, Johor to literally throw themselves out of a plane. Lee Nah, our cheerleader/ photographer/ videographer and future ‘plane jumper’ came along to witness the drama first hand.
It was the perfect day to jump. The sun was shining bright, the sky was clear and the wind was ‘just right’ for amateur jumpers.
Soon it was time for Lenny and I to suit up and tempt fate by plunging from a single propeller plane 4000ft above. So with our suits up; altimeter – checked; walkie-talkie radio – checked; helmet – checked; goggle – checked and of course Parachute bag ON, we took our steps of faith to the plane.
Lenny was to jump first followed by me.
As we were walking to the plane:
Lenny: (starts praying aloud for God’s protection over us)
Land Master: (over the radio) ‘Jumper #1, if you can hear me, raise your hand’.
Lenny: (continues praying – obviously oblivious to the Land Master’s voice)
Land Master: (over the radio) ‘Jumper #1, raise your hand!’.
Esther: (thinking in my head) (Lenny, he’s asking you to raise your hand)
Lenny: (continues praying)
Land Master: (over the radio – screaming frantically) ‘Jumper #1, raise your hand!!’
Lenny: (ends prayer still oblivious to the screams) ‘Amen’.
Esther: Lenny! He’s asking you to raise your hand!!
Lenny: Oh is it? (and he raises one hand)
Thank God the Land Master did not walk over and say ‘Apasal degil sangat ni?!’
Once we reached the plane, we both hooked on our parachute’s static line chord to the static line chord attached to the plane. It is absolutely vital that the static line chords are securedly attached for the Parachute to successfully deploy after 3 seconds. Failing which, we would have said our last prayers and see you in heaven.
(Just Kidding, there’s always the Reserve Parachute :) )
We both stumbled. Whatever theory we were taught at class just vanished from our minds. We did not scream neither did we count the way we were taught which was “1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000, 2, 3, Check‘. In short, when the Jump Master shouted ‘Go!’, we just threw ourselves backwards and let gravity take its course. Thank God everything went well and we only encountered a common minor malfunction which was the ‘Twist’.
The ‘float’ in the air: Each jumper experiences different ‘float’ time in the air, depending on our weight and the wind condition. The heavier you are, the faster you reach ground. I’m not light but during my first jump, I was actually stationery at 4000ft for several minutes. I kept staring at my Altimeter and it kept saying 4000ft. The spectators below thought I was never coming down. After awhile I gave up and tried looking for Lenny who jumped before me. When I found him, my first reaction was ‘WAH! Lenny is so far away!!’. The wind had blew him over some residential houses and over the radio, I could hear the Land Master directing him closer to the landing zone.
The Landing: Lenny had a good landing where he landed on his two feet. Me, on the other hand, struggled with the brakes coz my arms were already hurting from fighting the wind in mid-air.
My landing went something like this:
Land Master: Ok good good, now, Full Brake! Full Brake!
Esther: (seeing the ground rushing up, frantically pulls only till like 3/4 brake) *Splat* (landed flat on my belly)
Sigh. Weak arms.
As we were resting and waiting for our next jump, Vicknes and Premala did their jumps. Vicknes, unfortunately, did not land well and dislocated his ankle. After witnessing that, Lenny and I had to rest even longer as we needed time to wash that negative image out of our minds. It’s scary leh!
Plane Exit: Was determined to do the exit right and had our mind set on it. But somehow, just somehow, when you are in position outside the plane, you just do not have the time or the reflex to do it right. We once again stumbled. And according to the Jump Master, I hit my head against the plane’s wing. Thank God for helmets.
The ‘float': This time I jumped first and very quickly I dropped to 3000ft. Both of us had our cameras tucked away in our jumpsuits and were told that we could only take photos above 3000ft and against the wind. Since I felt that I was falling pretty rapidly, I had to pull the brakes and snap photos at the same time. Not an easy task! And while I snapped, over the radio came the voice of the Land Master saying ‘Jumper #2, you’re going too far off, come back, come back!’. I tried looking up to see what was Lenny up to this time. And true enough he seemed to have flown a fair bit off course. (Apparently his walkie-talkie failed and he could not hear the Land Master’s commands. Either that, or he was too engrossed taking video of his surroundings :P . Thank God he was wise enough to know when he’s too far off and turned back).
The Landing: Again, Lenny’s landing was smooth and he landed on both feet. Me, this time round, decided that I don’t want to end up like Kuhan and so I lifted my legs up and landed on my butt. You can say it was a ‘soft landing’ :)
So we both successfully completed our jumps. I loved every part of the jump, even the landing which was pretty challenging. But the best part was the float in the air. It was really quiet and serene up there. And the air was sooo cooling!
Honestly, jumping off the plane, I felt no fear nor was the adrenaline rush as great as a ‘Space Shot’ ride at Genting. One thing I’m sure of; if you have Bungee Jumped, this will be a breeze :)
For what it’s worth:
Sky Diving lesson and Jump: RM 1,250
Road trip to Segamat: RM 200
Overall Experience: Priceless
We will definitely be jumping again – hopefully soon. Free fall jump is our goal. So if you are keen, perhaps we could go together :)