Written by: Rachelle Keeling
The wind whipped furiously across my face as I plunged through the air at 220km/h. Only a ball of rope and a bundle of silk stood between the fast approaching ground and myself. I had never imagined that I would find myself in this position, especially since I’ve been terrified of heights since childhood. Yet today I was throwing myself out of a plane and facing a 30 second free fall.
I was in Swakopmund, the adventure capital of Namibia, and I was here to push my limits. After the adrenaline rush of sand boarding and quad biking in the beautiful Namib Desert, it was time to take on a challenge away from the dunes – 10,000 feet above sea level, hurtling through the air in a tandem skydive over the Namib.
We met our instructors at the airfield and, after training and safety talks, were geared up and ready to go. As we walked out onto the tarmac and boarded the small plane to begin our 35 minute ascent, I knew there was no turning back. The scenery from the flight was lost on me as the task ahead was distraction enough.
As we ascended, our jumpmasters kept the atmosphere lighthearted. However, I still couldn’t help but stare at the plastic roller door on the side of the plane. This was all that separated us from the jump ahead. As we approached altitude, it was time to strap myself to my instructor, and I drew a strange sense of comfort from his close proximity and calm demeanour.
Then it was time. The roller door was opened and cool air flooded the cabin. Joined together, we waddled into position. It was now or never, and my mind was racing. Then suddenly the plane was gone and a rush of cool air encircled us.
The free fall was the purest thrill I’ve ever experienced. Rather surprisingly, jumping out of the plane was somehow less scary than the first push that I took on the sand board. Maybe it was because my body was so pumped up on adrenaline that anything seemed possible or perhaps it was because I wasn’t in control and had to trust in my jump-master completely.
The free fall was indescribable. I had thought it would be similar to the feeling that you get in your belly when you ride over a bump in a car really fast and it feels like the rest of your body needs to catch up, but this was a completely different sensation. It was simultaneously the quickest and the longest 30 seconds of my life.
As my jump-master checked his altimeter, the parachute deployed with a jerk and we were tugged sharply upwards. I could now spend the remaining 5,000 feet enjoying an unobscured view of the landscape.
All too quickly it was over and we were navigating our way towards the drop zone. I just needed to remember how to land and then I would have successfully conquered my fears and experienced one of the most thrilling events of my life.
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