What goes through your mind when you are free-falling from near-12,000ft at a speed of 114mph with a guy you’ve just met as your only safety net?
Sheer, unadulterated excitement and a mystical experience close to the heavens is what.
The thought of taking on a sky dive had flitted through my mind occasionally in recent years, but to tick that item off the Bucket List with full vigour, was an entirely different phenomenon. I could be lazying on Diani Beach, along Kenya’s coast, or kicking back with pina coladas on this holiday weekend to celebrate Mashujaa Day – held to mark all those who died in the struggle for the nation’s independence – whilst listening to rhytmic African beats… …did I really need to take on this challenge?
Mentally juggling a cocktail of excitement and trepidation ahead of my midday plunge, I watched the enthralling, pulsating moments of recent adventurists on the team’s TV in their beachside office. With the coastal wind blowing through the open doors and 30-plus temperatures adding to the unbeatable ambience, intermingled with upbeat dance music, I’ve seen worse workspaces. Much worse. These guys certainly know how to enjoy life, I mused.
And when I saw the breathtaking videos and ear-to-ear smiles the sky dives sparked on fellow enthusiasts’ faces, produced via owner Gary Lincoln-Hope’s handy GoPro camera and editor, I was in. Afterall, I had just watched a palpitating 13-year-old master it from a day earlier: how frightening could it be?
Besides, I am increasingly living by the adage: do one thing every day that scares you. I may never do this again, I thought, so give it at least one shot.
Set up by ex-British Army officer and private security supremo, Gary, in December 2013, Sky Dive Diani is taking advantage of a melt-in-your-mouth location, ranked amongst the top ten destinations in the world to jump out of a plane at 12,000ft.
And it’s easy to see why.
With sprawling views of the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, a vast stretch of white sand beach and verdant forest as far as the eye could see, the view was as mouth-watering as the 47-second freefall was liberating.
What I learnt after jumping out of a plane at 12,000ft:
1. The importance of staying calm
Right from getting suited up and chewing the fat with Gary and Mark, to climbing to the edge of the plane – that heart-in-mouth moment – deep intakes of breath and bantering with the guys, helped to alleviate any pre-traumatic stress I might have been feeling. By the time we were ready to jump, Mark gave me that extra little nudge to take the plunge.
2. Letting go…and trusting someone
Sometimes in life we have to rid ourselves of all our hang-ups and just let go. We can’t always be in control; we can do our best to manipulate conditions, such that we believe we have done everything to create the perfect environment. When it comes to doing a tandem sky dive, however, you have to put 100% trust in your partner. With 4,500 sky dives behind him, I sussed that Mark knew a thing or two about jumping out of planes…
3. You can do anything you set your mind to…
As I laid in bed on the morning of my sky dive, I wondered if I would actually go through with it. But as the build-up of what-ifs multiplied in my mind, it struck me that I needed to take a dose of my own medicine. Isolate doubt, squash fear and: boom! This is exactly the kind of activity I should be doing: on-the-edge, full-throtlle, taking life by the scruff of the neck. Anything that makes you smile and chuckle back to yourself this much upon watching the video, is worth it.