You don't live until you dive
Posted On 28th December 2015
"Ingvild Finvag, your co-star, is going to climb out to the tail of the plane”
"What?” you ask, wide eyed amid the fluttering wind.
"Sheeeee…is going to climb out to the tail of the plane and that will be your cue," Mark Sinagra, the director, casually shouts back (pointing at the kneeling, collected, blue-eyed, blonde-haired doll) before proceeding.
“When I tap your shoulder, put your feet out to the count of three then let go.”
Clouded thoughts at 10,000 feet above sea and all your numb, seemingly dumb, self can do is grin and shout back an affirmative. You are not ready, but even if you were granted more time, your rookie acrophobic self, sure would not be prepared. It does not help that you signed roughly 30 pages of "I will not sue" and filled out a list of questions like "who do we notify in case of accident" moments earlier. The only comfort, the blaring I wanna feel beat by American-born British DJ and producer Second City.
Lights, Camera, Action!
Like the script reads, Ingvild crouches and to your utter horror, hurls herself out of the Cessna 206 into the sky in what appears pure glee.
Then, just as you wonder why chicken cannot fly, the dreaded tap on your shoulder, and it is time. Bare, turned zombie feet swing to the side to the force of the wind. You arc at the hip like a banana. As you hill (beginning of the free fall once you leave the aircraft), you become deaf courtesy of the rushing wind and the last thing you see is the plane’s belly before your heart stops. When you eventually regain your breath, you can fly!
Let me bring you back to earth. You are not cast in a Bolly, Holly, or Nollywood shoot. Rather, you are well within our borders. Diani, Kwale to be precise. See, I am an action movie buff, especially the Jackie Chan-Jason Statham kind that have the stars performing their own stunts with proof goofs at the end of the flick. I reckon, however, that it takes a bucket-full of talent and tonnes of practice to get to Chan’s level. Even with that winning combination, there are auditions to contend with and casting directors to impress, that is if you have any luck accessing any of the ‘woods’ to begin with. We can agree then that with such odds stacked against you, the best you can do is humbly relegate yourself to the spectator category, popping pack killing, carb packing, corn, adorned in three dimension glasses. Right?
Wrong, because just like in all great movies, the call for the apex of adventure rings: Your mission should you accept it is to star in your very own five minute-long action video.
Well, Gary Lincoln-Hope believes are many ways to experience Kenya’s beauty: Blood rushing bungee jumps at Sagana, climbs to Mount Kenya’s snow capped peak, witnessing the gnu migration in the Mara, and deep sea dives, but nothing beats the majesty of a 10,000 feet above the sea view right falling at 193 kilometres per hour.
Gary, after joining an elite Parachute Regiment, was smitten by Kenya’s coastline’s scenery and Skydive Diani Club selling sun, sea, sand and skydiving was born. Located along Diani road in the vicinity of the famous Forty Thieves bar and Ali Barbours restaurant, this barely two-year-old company that hosts the only permanent drop zone this side of the Sahara, already boasts a fanatical following, if their social media fans are anything to go by.
For those seeking the thrill of free-fall, diving lessons are in line with the Kenya Aviation (Parachute) rules of 2007 as per the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority and student jumpers and professional jumpers get a parachute permit before starting classes and diving activities. Tandem jumpers (like this writer), who strap themselves to experienced divers just to get the thrill of a free fall, however, do not need licenses. For the best, considering the equipment involved, a little wallet dent will not hurt. Following world trends, the price for a tandem jump is approximately $350 dollars excluding the video that I highly recommend for posterity sake.
Just in case you were wondering, approximately two million skydives occur every year. Out of this, the average number of fatalities is around 35 which is less than one per cent of the jumps that take place. In essence, skydiving is safer than driving a car! Richelle Hall, the Club’s Chief Instructor, spotting a sprained foot with a shrug, explained that skydiving despite its altitude scare is relatively safe. She had after all done twenty jumps on the foot bound foot.
So, if you want free primal scream therapy or the chance to just pretend you are re-experiencing your birth trauma as you exit the womb-like safety of the aircraft, and scream on the way down, attempt sky diving. Just remember not to scream shit during free fall.
Sign up for a five-day course with a friend at Skydive Diani and the two of you can learn to skydive together at their training school for the price of one while the offer lasts. This could, just, be the first step towards beating Don Kellner who has 41,000 jumps to his name, making him the most experienced skydiver.