The shutter door rolls up on the right-hand side of the small aircraft, hovering 9000ft above Cape Town, revealing an expanse of baby blue sky with a spattering of fluffy white clouds. The cold air sweeps in, causing goosebumps. Knees weak, palms sweaty. The skydiving tandem jumper issues his last instructions ‘Bend your knees under the plane, lend back and roll out‘.
A short drive from Cape Town is a small airfield home to a well-established skydiving company. They have been operating out of Cape Town and nearby Stellenbosch. The sun beats down on the runway, as divers are meticulously folding parachutes. The place is empty of tourists, and the diving instructions jovial at the visible nervous faces. After a weigh-in, some quick maths to ensure that the parachute can support the combined weight and a short safety briefing, the walk to the plane to take off.
The plane was large enough to fit six people, including the tandem masters. A scenic 20-minute journey to 9000ft above sea level, the shutter door opens with the final strapping to the tandem master. Last instructions are to tuck your knees under the lip of the plane edge, lean backwards and roll out of the plane from the hips.
Excuse Me While I Kiss The Sky – Jimi Hendrix
Then falling, at 120mph from 9000ft for 30 seconds. The adrenaline is coursing through the veins; initial paralysing fear dissolves into awe and amazement — a thrilling rush at free falling. Without warning, the parachute is pulled, and the free fall abruptly stops with a giant and not so gentle hoisting sensation — a serene descent, swaying from left to right, taking in the sights of Cape Town and the surrounding areas. The light fluttering as the wind catches in the chute as the temperature gets warmer closer to the ground.
The lightest person is first to jump, with the heaviest being last. The duration of the descent depends on the combined weight. An awkward landing lifting knees up to hip level, awkwardly landing in the sand, on top of the tandem master and that’s it, back on solid ground.
Voted as one of the best backdrops to see at altitude, with Cape Town, Table Mountain and Robben Island, unfurling underneath during a tranquil 5-minute parachute descent only if you’re brave enough for the free fall first.