An adventure girl. Always looking for an adrenaline rush and is up for nearly anything to tick off items on her bucket list. This is what I would have described myself before I jumped off 11 000 feet from a small airplane.
If you aren’t necessarily afraid of heights or want to conquer your fears, skydiving or bungee jumping are top to-do lists for many. For other people, they can’t be bothered, but I am not one of those people. The need for the thrill and speed offsets some of my characteristics which are deemed controlled, and put together.
So when an adventurous road trip with South African Tourism to the Free State come up, the itinerary included many things I’ve always wanted to do. Such as hot air ballooning, skydiving and ziplining.
We toured Parys in the Free State, a quaint little town in a province not known for its tourist side or attractions. However, this is changing, why the tourism department with Shot’left felt the province’s hidden gems and businesses needed to be spotlighted for the upcoming Travel Week.
Travel Week is from 5 to 11 September, and will come with specials and discounts of up to 50% at various locations across the country. We were off to our first thrilling event at Skydiving Parys.
My entire game plan was to appear calm and collected during the entire process and this mentality helped me because the instructed guides from the tandem masters (the person who opens the parachute) did calm the nerves.
WATCH: Skydiving in Parys, Free state
The build-up was slow, I was on the last group to jump but I wasn’t going to back out. Once you are on board the cold air sweeps the aircraft as you get closer to 11 000 feet. The nervous and anxious levels increase massively.
I can’t recall if my tandem master Neil, even counted us down before we jumped. I just remember falling rapidly down, being in complete shock and immediately being in survival mode. This might sound dramatic, however, the rushing oxygen filling up your nostrils and mouth can make anyone struggle to breathe.
So, as I reminded myself to take a few deep breathes, with an instruction to take my protective glasses off, the sheer pandemonium in my head quickly dissipated in a few seconds once I opened my eyes. I saw the view, there is a swell in your heart, almost spiritual seeing the acres of land with endless views as you are up in the air.
This is something drop zone operator and owner of Skydive Parys, Chris Mollet, is used to. He said they have been operating for about seven years and the disciplines in skydiving they offer are tandem jumping, formation skydiving, artistic events, free-flying student courses (free falling) as well as static line students.
Mollet says the highest number of jumps ever done at Skydive Parys is just over 6 000 by one person.
Mollet has done over 4 000 jumps.
He says their objective is to have as much fun and build on skydiving skills.
Some of the tandem masters have military experience and were in the police force and special forces.
“We have very qualified tandem instructors. You need a minimum of 1000 jumps to be even considered for tandem.”
Having experienced thousands of jumps, Mollett says their approach to first-timers is to talk them through the process, focusing on the positives and the safety aspects to help people eventually take the jump.
He adds only about three people have refused to jump with him and they have never forced anyone to go through it. “It is usually the ones who have the most anxiety that enjoy it the most and they want to go again.”
As the eventual crush happened, with exhaustion and some nausea after landing, I had a firm belief this was ticked off my bucket list, I’ve accomplished something I’ve always wanted to do. However, jumping 11 000 feet again, wasn’t in the cards for me… not anytime soon.