The day we jumped out of a plane @ 16,500 ft

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Where I stayed
Bethany Christian Camp Site

Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Friday, October 22, 2010

Today was such a special day we have done two blogs one each

Andrew Blog for Today

We woke to a cracking morning no wind and no clouds in the sky. It was finally time to halve the cost of the rest of the trip. Today the Lady would skydive there was no doubt about it. Despite my glory in signing up through fear of missing something in Taupo I had finally managed to regain my manhood with the common sense of a German guy in Taupo, "Andrew, you are more of a man to handle the criticism of not doing what you cannot do, than doing it just in fear of persecution of being weak". We had clearly set out the rules, we couldn't afford for any of us to skydive, worst case she jumps from a plane and I chase her parents for the money when she says it is the best thing she has ever done.

With the rules agreed I drove the lady over to the airport joking about scraping her up and how the trip would become more lonely but the reduced cost would cover the shortfall. We arrived and wondered in to see if she could jump. At the counter we agreed a special price for the highest jump in New Zealand and one of the highest in the world, when the lady asked for how many people, Lady E pulled out two sets of vouchers and suggestively asked “how many Andrew”, I could of bloody killed her because the next words out of my mouth, “what the hell, you only live once, but I think today will be my last”. In all honesty I was absolutely convinced in Taupo that if I did it I would have a heart attack as soon as I left the plane and die before I even knew what had happened. My fear of heights is that great that if Eric Clapton’s son died of a heart attack before he hit the ground when he committed suicide I would probably go the same way. Indeed I had already googled 'skydiving heart attack dead’ back at Taupo only to read that people that are prone to skitzing out at heights can indeed die of a heart attack, I knew this was something I should never attempt.

Upon being offered a choice of times of either 5 minutes or about 2 hours I instantly said 5 minutes, Erica wanted time to get ready, I was absolutely brutal with her that if I was doing it I was doing it now before I had time to know what I was actually doing. Erica again said we would do it later, but I told the woman “let me get my flip flops off and get me in that plane or I’m out”. With that we went to the van packed up the valuables changed shoes and went back to the desk. We were quickly shepherded into the changing rooms where all of a sudden I was greeted by people saying “I’m x I’m the Y, I’ll just get you in as a suit and the harness. Then I had a camera thrust on my arm and I though the guy was taking a picture of me. I then got dragged outside and asked what I was doing, “jumping out of that over there”. Before I had time to actually even think what I was doing or if I should pull out I was in a tiny plane sat on a cushion with a guy behind me. I was straight up and said “I know you guys like to joke around, just don’t I f*cking shitting myself, am terrified of heights, can have panic attacks flying and really don’t want to do this!”. The guys were great and explained that fear of heights is actually not a problem due to the pure scale of the altitude, just do what you have to, try and relax as much as you can and enjoy it. Instead of the crazy and wacky gesturing required for a good video the guy explained where we where pointed out North Island, the Kaikoura mountain range, the Southern Alps, Mount Cook, of course Abel Tasman etc. I was quite engrossed in what he was telling me and the plane ride was just so smooth I didn’t even realise how high we were getting. The camera man in front of me was messing with my shoes and I nearly lost my rag with him as I thought he was tying my shoelaces together, as it turned out he was tying my shoelaces in a double knot so they didn’t fall off or annoy me. Then I got told I had to put on my oxygen mask as the oxygen levels had been so reduced. All of a sudden the plane seemed to slow and a green light was flashing, the plane for the first time started to wobble a bit. I was breathing in the oxygen like a pregnant mother about to give birth, then I heard two minute warning, I got a quick briefing from my man, about landing and setting off, but before I had time to really panic, the door slid open and Erica’s camera man stepped out onto a rail. Erica was pushed towards the exit then simply disappeared, I absolutely shit myself. My guy jumped out onto a rail, Stuart and Emma explained that if you are not the first you have the worst experience as you have just seen someone fall out of a plane and you know what is going to happen. In absolute panic I moved to the exit trying to grab hold of the doors so I didn’t go out, the guy curtly gave me a wrap on the arms and I crossed them over my chest, “make your move for the camera”, I managed a pathetic wave, whilst looking up at the sky and before I knew it I was gone. We heard of sensory overload and the fact many first time skydivers cant remember the first few seconds, that was definitely me. Watching my DVD afterwards I had jumped out of a plane head first hurtling towards the ground at 200km per hour. Then I remember falling and an adrenalin rush that was more than any I had ever had in my entire life (possibly combined), then I though, shit I’m alive and started thumping the air in delight much to my dive master’s annoyance as he kept trying to get my hands into the correct position. I on the other hand just couldn’t stop I was going berserk. The camera man suddenly appeared and grabbed my arms and I was in a formation fall before he spun me round letting me go in a high velocity spin at 200kmp towards the ground, he then appeared again much to my amazement and we linked up again. After about 65 seconds of freefall I practically but not literally (thank god) filled my underpants as the parachute opened. Just check out the picture this is just how much terror a man can handle. The weirdest sense of silence occurred after the crazy noises and we were floating. The oddest thing I think I have ever sensed, I was not scared at all. I think the fact you are so tightly strapped is less scary than being in a plane where you get thrown about a little during turbulence. The guy was explaining about the crops and fields then gave me the reigns to the parachute his hands were in front of me proving that I w2as controlling the whole thing to go faster or slower, left or right and he just gave me directions to head to a landing ground. To be fair I didn’t like this what so ever and it was really hard work physically. Erica didn’t get this privilege but I kept pleading for him to take over. Then we were at ground level, despite the camera in my face I ran to the lady and hugged her despite nearly knocking my teeth out on her buckle of her suit. I remember the guy saying would you do it again, and like a complete geek I laughed and said “possibly” and followed it with a high pitched laugh. Mike I apologise this is perhaps the longest paragraph I have ever written, but shit the bed this is one experience I will never ever forget. I can’t believe I enjoyed a skydive that much. It took me almost 30 minutes to stop shaking but despite the 300 price tag for just 65 seconds it was worth every penny. The videos are amazing and I just can’t stop watching them, now we have managed to copy them to the laptop. Fergal has seen me on a ferris wheel panic, Ben Crammant has seen me on ski lifts panic, my family saw me have a real panic attack on a gondola (“breath into my hand”) and bugger me I actually jumped out of a plane today, not just any skydive the highest in adrenaline junky NZ and one of the highest in the world. What an amazing incredible day, I still hate the witch for making me do it though. It just goes to prove though I wasn’t man enough to say no and live with the consequences, besides where was the value in me paying for the lady to jump out of a plane without me, anyone scared of heights don’t book it turn up hope they have a slot and before you know what is happening you are gone. The rest of the day was completely irrelevant I just jumped out of a bloody plane!

Erica Blog for Today

We woke up to an absolutely beautiful day, looking through the sunroof there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, it was so exciting. If we (I) were going to do it, today was surely going to be the day.  We cooked up some venison sausage sandwiches and sat in the sunshine having breakfast savouring every moment – as far as we were concerned this might well have been our last meal.  We packed up camp and drove over to Motueka airport to Abel Tasman Skydive with Andrew still adamant that I would be doing this one solo, well I was hoping that I would be strapped to someone who actually knew what they were doing, but without him (the big Jessie).  No, seriously I understand his extreme fear of heights, I’ve been on too many flights, cable cars, ferris wheels, bridges, observation decks etc with him not to have noticed the frenzy that he whips himself in to every time. We arrived and ‘enquired’ as to the price of the 16,500 ft dive, the highest one in the country and most of the world, well if you’re going to do it, do it I say, and when we get home that kind of money will be going towards far more mundane things – like the mortgage for example. 

At 599 Dollars each – it was one of the most expensive things that we have done on the trip (thanks Mum for the early Christmas present- he he) but it compared well with the other skydive companies as part of the package was a dvd of the jump, exit photos, 100 photo stills and t-shirts plus as I said you can’t jump that high anywhere else in New Zealand.  We were told that if we wanted to jump that we could either go in 5 minutes or an hour and a half – that settled it, with no time to think about it too much Andrew was in so we ran back to the van to change our shoes and empty our pockets and Andrew also gulped down his blood pressure tablets (just in case).  I would have preferred to wait to get my head around what I was about to do, maybe change a few details of the will, check that the travel insurance policy covered us for extreme sports- you know the usual things.

It’s a bit of a blur really, we were quickly ushered in to the kit room and given jump suits to don and then our dive masters (mine was the diminutive Chris), who literally were going to have our lives in their hands, introduced themselves and got us all harnessed up and gave us a quick briefing.  Andrew wasn’t saying much and looking rather sheepish I decided to leave him alone to psyche himself up for the flight (I’m sure I saw him mumbling ‘keep it together’ inn true Bowfingerstylee.  Next thing we knew we were walking to the tiny plane, one person wide, that was going to take us up to 16,500 ft on our ‘scenic’ flight.  We crawled in and had to sit on the dive masters knees it was that tight for space – Andrew of course loved this bit (hmmm) and I was worried about crushing my guys legs, like I say he was a little bit smaller than me.  There were 7 of us including the pilot in the plane – us, two dive masters and two photographers.  On the way up Andrew was pre occupied in his own world, but for some strange reason I was totally calm and even enjoyed the flight safe in the knowledge that I was getting ever nearer to jumping out of the thing.  At something close to 12,000 ft we were given oxygen masks to wear, now that did seem odd when we were going to be jumping out much higher without any breathing apparatus whatsoever – still Andrew almost inhaled the thing.

The time came to make a move and my photographer opened the plane door.  It hadn’t occurred to me that as I was last in I would be first to jump.  We edged towards the door and all of a sudden I was on the edge looking down at a patchwork landscape and it was amazing.  I curved my legs back and stuck my hips forward but almost forgot to put my head back I was looking around too much.  Then with a few rocks back and forward we were hurtling towards the ground at 200km per hour.  It was an incredible sight, the Tasman Sea, beaches, 2 national parks, snow capped mountains and even the North Island – it was almost too much to take in, maybe sensory overload, and I was struggling to breathe we were travelling that fast.

All of a sudden we opened our parachute and there was an almighty calm, the rush was gone but it had left me deaf – oh no not again.  It really was beautiful silently floating back to earth watching everything below us getting bigger and bigger.  We touched down in the airfield, much more elegantly than I expected and it was such a surreal feeling knowing that seconds earlier I JUMPED OUT OF A BLOODY PLANE!!!  I turned to watch Andrew come in and ran over, I was so worried that he had hated it or even had a heart attack mid way as he had predicted but all I saw was this dazed but obviously ecstatic look on his face.  He had obviously loved it.  We got changed and sat in the sunshine waiting for our dvds and our photos to be ready.  We got to watch our videos before we left and had a chuckle about how differently we both handled it, but given Andrew’s fear of heights is that any wonder?  But I am very proud of him doing it, god this guy gets panic attacks on ferris wheels – we really should live in a bungalow!

We decided to stay at the Christian Camp site again and drove to Marahau Bay, one bay up for Kaiteriteri to make some enquiries about hiring kayaks to explore Abel Tasman Marine Park.  The guided tours were far too expensive so we got a price for freedom kayaking and went back to the camp site to consider the options.  We cooked dinner and met a lovely Christian Pastor, told you it was a Christian camp site, who had been living in New Zealand for 50 years but still managed to retain his Scottish accent.  He kept us entertained for a while and then we sat and watched One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in the camp lounge – oh and our skydive dvds about 20 times each still not quite believing that we had actually done it and lived to tell the tale.

Would I do it again?  Bring on Lake Wanaka (oh and mum about next years birthday present...)
Slideshow Report as Spam


farknash on

absolutely amazing!

i expect absolutely no hesitancy next year when we go up in the balloon now...


Rorie and Emer on

Mate i seen yourself absolutely shit it plenty of times in recent months due to heights, probably the funniest was that very unsteady rope bridge in Malaysia (me and Lady E pulling and hanging off the ropes didnt help, il give you that) that was only 20 mentre off the ground, so i really have to hand it to you and of course the ever calm and beautiful Lady E.

Even us apparently rich Irish folk couldnt go through with it when we got to the front desk in Wanaka so you are most definetly one up on us there, and i thought i got V for money at 250 dollars for ten minutes in a monster truck, not even close by the looks of things.

Fair play to both of ye, photos are brilliant, ye prob only have a taste for it now though n there are cheaper things to get hooked on for the rest of yer trip but then again like me n Emer always used to say to each other, you only get trips like this once in a lifetime, if yer lucky!!!!!!!!

natalie1983 on

OMG!! You crazy people! xx

mum and dad on

Absolutely fantastic never thought Andrew would jump out of a plane especially with his fear of heights. Amazing photos as well

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