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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My Skydiving experience and photos at Mysore, India

When I signed up for skydiving, I did face lots of criticism. I was told it is waste of money (not really- read this post), I was told it is not safe in India. But deep inside I knew that I had to give it a try and held on to my plan.

I reached Mysore airport slightly ahead of time on Sunday, my schedule date for skydive. The Kakini enterprises (organizers of skydive) staff were yet to come. After few minutes of waiting, the staff arrived with their equipment and we cleared security checks. I was told my dive will be at 11AM. I was given a red suit to wear and I put it on and observed others rehearsing, getting ready and so on. Other than me there were two other enthusiasts who had come for static jump and 3 more army staff who had come for different jumps, paying out of their own pocket and during their leave. (I was under the impression that army staff may have skydiving as a part of their job description or optional facilities in their units to practice if they wish, but I was mistaken).

Kakini enterprises now own their own plane, a small Cessna 172 plane, which was supposed to be a seater. The plane was customized for skydiving by removing one of the doors and providing adequate support on the wheels and wings to facilitate exit of divers. 3 of the 4 seats were removed to make room for jumpers and their equipment. As first few jumpers went up, we observed that Cessna is a TVS XL 50 equivalent of motorcycles- it takes forever to climb. Eventually the jumpers got off and we on ground saw them sailing downwards. Soon, I would be up there doing the same

Me, all decked up for the dive
Mysore airport has its lone flight of the day at about 10.30. A spicejet bombardier flies in from Chennai and flies back to Chennai. We observed that there were good no of passengers- probably 30-40 in number, good enough for a profitable flight. I was reminded of my previous visit to Mysore airport- during Kingfisher activation. There’re no proper refueling facilities in Chennai, so plane carries enough fuel to go back. Skydiving staff need to coordinate with ATC while the spicejet is around.

After each jump the deployed parachute needs to be folded back in and this process takes several minutes. There’re different chutes (aka Canopy) for static and tandem (because tandem one should be able to support more weight)

I had a few guests, whose entry got delayed as the check in of spicejet passengers were in progress. Eventually, after few hours of wait, they got in before my jump.

Time went by and it was 12 noon and my turn was yet to come. In between, my instructor, Rajan briefed me on the procedure. As I was doing tandem, I didn’t have much to do, except following little instructions he gives. This is easier than static jump, which requires half day training and a written test, because in static the jumper controls the canopy and lands himself.

Eventually my turn came, the last one for the day before they packed up. Myself, my instructor Rajan, another instructor Ales who would capture my videos and the pilot boarded the Cessna. I was given one quick rehearsal on exit procedure, pilot (Captain Harshit) took permission from ATC and the plane started moving.
Inside the Cessna, during take off
Our XL50 sorry Cessna 172 took close to 30 minutes to climb. It slowly circled Mysore airport thrice as it gained altitude. I enjoyed the view of airport and land behind, while we waited for the right altitude. I noticed a difference between altitude shown in plane’s altimeter and the one my instructor. When I questioned, I was told that plane’s altimeter gives height w.r.t mean sea level (which is higher) compared to wrist altimeter which was reset to zero on ground. The aircraft also makes insane noise, more audible because one of the door is cut off. It is not possible to make decent conversation on board. As we went up temperature dropped, but being midday, it was not too cold.
Cessna 172 instrument cluster
Thankfully I was allowed to wear my spectacles, as we had another eye gear on top of it. Otherwise most of the time I will be asked to remove the specs (like when I took the ride at Tivoli Gardens) which means reduced vision.

5 minutes to go…
I moved into position, while my instructor, Rajan sir came behind me and locked myself to him. The other instructor, Ales made space for our exit, by almost hanging on to the wings…
I could see the land deep below and told myself that it will be an easy jump. I reminded myself that all I need to do was to just trust my instructor and not panic or do anything stupid.

2 minutes to go
Go pros and cameras were turned on, we inched out of the aircraft slowly, with my right leg out first, right hand next and then positioning myself under the instructor. Next few moment I was hanging off my instructor, my legs folded and my hands close to my chest, away from the aircraft wing support.
Slowly getting ourselves out of the aircraft
Moments after we disconnected from the plane and began free fall
Next thing I know is we were in free fall. I stopped thinking, held my breath and enjoyed the fall. Gravity defying 35 seconds of drop vertically down, from 10000 ft to 5000 ft. In between we managed a small stunt as well-extending our arms to hold a formation with my secondary instructor. In fact I was few seconds late in stretching my arms, else probably we could have had more fun.
The free fall has begun
Doing a formation in the air
Then the canopy was deployed and our decent slowed down heavily. Now we were floating around in a relaxed mode and my instructor thought me basic maneuver of the parachute- how to steer it left, right etc. We did some circling and slowly touched down at the designated spot.
 
After that I was left with an even more difficult task- to explain everyone how it felt. It felt thrilling, exhilarating and certainly a thing to be experienced once a lifetime. I am now more confident about myself, to try more adventurous activities in life. I was given a log book and a T shirt. Unfortunately I lost the T shirt somewhere in the airport. (Sad)
 
Mysore airport runway, as seen from 5000 ft
 
I was told the photos and videos would take some time. We left mysore airport with lots of memories. I am happy one of the items in my list is ticked off, but still many more pending (Scuba diving, balloon ride to name a few). Hopefully in the future…

Now that I am done with tandem, thinking of doing a static jump next.

Watch video below

Disclaimer: I didn’t click the images in this post. They were taken using a go pro by a fellow instructor who jumped with us. But since I have paid for the shoot, I can claim to own the photos.

Read my skydiving experience article in Kannada * Watch video * Top 10 Adventure activities you can try in Karnataka

18 comments :

Subh said...

awesome....loved the pics

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Subh

Meghana Hassan said...

Wow, superb set of photo series..

Santosh bs said...

Woohoo! Sooper!

Itching to do one soon :)

Deepa Prabhu said...

wonderful photos..... I was little scared when I saw last 4 photos. seems skydiving is really a nice experience.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Meghana

Santosh: Do try it

Deepa: Yes it is indeed a nice experience

Anuradha Shankar said...

cool!!!! I enjoyed looking at your photos, though this is something I will ever have courage enough to try out myself!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Ok.. May be you can try the simpler variants like para sailing...

Mridula said...

Congratulations Shrinidhi! Now when are they coming to Delhi?

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks. They are originally from Delhi and had done lots of jumps there. Currently camping in Mysore...

Why don't u come down to Mysore

Mohan said...

Fantastic experience it must be. I will wait for my turn :)

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Sure. Do try

R Niranjan Das said...

Awesome!! Exhilarating experience.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Yes, you bet

Muhammad Arshad Khan said...

Very nice to see your work and visitors are awesome in numbers great work
here is my blog
http://www.photobagh.blogspot.com

manjuantha devaraj said...

Hi,,, I have done the sky diving in Melbourne, based on that experiences. Need to improve on safety. For example: i have jumped directly from the door, i have not done any kind of circus coming out sitting bar settling there & jump. If you have videos kindly compare u will see driffence.

FARHAAN ALVI said...

coming soon

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@ Farhaan: What is coming soon?

@Manjunatha - agree- bigger planes give that liberty to jump off directly. Cesna is too small for skydiving purpose