I had the luck of experiencing an amazing event today. A skydiving center just opened in Knysna, and I had the honour of taking part on their first tandem jump. I am absolutely crazy about skydiving, so this is great news! They have certainly not seen the last of me. The Knysna lagoon is a perfect place to skydive, flying out over the Heads in the little plane really exalts the diversity that the area has to offer.
I drove to the drop-zone (where we took off and landed) with Greg Vogt, the chairman of Knysna Tourism. We were both really excited, him because Knysna is blooming in its diversity of activities taking place in the area and this inauguration is another good step towards a promising future, and me because I was about to jump out of a plane. It really was exciting though, I can’t believe I was there, as the first person to jump with them! There was a little gathering of people by the aircraft, friends and family of the people involved in the Knysna Skydive had come out for the inauguration. There was such a happy feeling in the air, I was introduced here and there and got a cheerful briefing on the jump. I really noticed the difference to my previous skydiving jump, here everyone was so happy and excited that it was happening that you really couldn’t help but feel the same.
Soon we got into the plane and prepared to take off. What I love about skydiving is that every single part of it is awesome. You know that feeling you got as a child when you were boarding a plane and managed to throw a glimpse into the cockpit, which was like the forbidden chamber where the secret of flying was hidden? I couldn’t help but think of that when I was sitting in the little plane, mentally high-fiving my younger self. The way up in the plane was great. I’ve been quite a lot around Knysna by now, and from the plane I could see it all. I remembered the sight of the Knysna bay from above as I first saw it from my flight to George, and it really looks spectacular from the air, like a beautiful landscape shot in a nature documentary – with the difference that you’re about to dive out into that landscape.
There is so much diversity here, it’s unbelievable. I’ve been in the forest, on the beach, in the fynbos and out on the ocean, and there it all was summed up in that vast sight. I guess it would have been a different feeling if I weren’t familiar with the view I was flying over, but as it is I have so many memories related to the places I’ve been around Knysna that it was a beautiful feeling to recognise them all from the air. Flying over the ocean I also thought, how cool would it be to spot a breaching whale from the plane?
Next thing we were at the right height to jump. This is the part where most people I spoke to who haven’t skydived think that it must be frightening, but it feels more crazy than scary. The door opens and you realize that you’re actually doing this, and the view always looks different looking down from the door or out of the window. You put your feet outside and lean forward and it really takes your breath away.
I can’t actually describe how it is when you jump out of the plane, it’s a crazy feeling. We did a few somersaults and then steadied into the free fall. I always thought it would feel like flying, but it feels just as it is: you’re falling out of the sky at a crazy speed and the wind is roaring in your face, you forget everything and there is just the sky and the ground coming closer under you. A second guy jumped with us to take photos, and he flew right below us facing up. It puts you into context when you see someone else falling beside you!
After what feels like just a few seconds you feel the parachute opening behind you, and it sounds like the wind blowing into the sails of a ship. After the roar of falling down it feels really peaceful to sail along with the parachute. I watched the landscape rolling by under the soles of my shoes and we quickly approached the landing area.
When we got close I saw the little figures of the people standing out in the field gazing up and remembered the inauguration, I forgot everything in the free fall. The landing went well and it was all over so quickly, people were cheering and holding glasses of champagne, I was light-headed from the adrenalin.
It was a great day, I am glad I got to jump. I am really happy that the Knysna Skydive has opened, and that I could be there to live the moment.