Most of us have a list of goals. While many of us have the standard hopes of graduating, starting a career, and adventuring around the world, we all have that side to the list where our adrenaline pumping dreams lie: bungee jumping, skydiving, mountain climbing, etc.
That said, when I decided to take a solo trip to New Zealand and Australia this summer, the number one item on my South Pacific adventure to-do list was skydiving.
I am someone who has always been afraid of heights. I have never been on a roller coaster. Every time a guy physically picks up my 5’2’’ self off the ground, I experience heart palpitations. That said, I still wanted to jump out of a plane.
There I was in Cairns, Australia, ready and surprisingly not panicking. I went into Skydive the Reef Cairns’ office and signed my life away five times. The pages might as well have asked “Are you sure?” Yes. “Are you REALLY sure?” Yes!
One of the reasons why I was so sure was because of a conversation I had with one of my mates back home who also went skydiving in Australia. Anita Papa, a former Concordia psychology student, had decided to skydive because she wanted to accomplish something. “I’ve been safe all of my life and I wanted to take that risk. I don’t even remember what I was thinking when I had to sign my life away right before jumping,” she said.
After I signed my life away, I was shown a video to prepare myself and the group of first time skydivers I was with for what was to come. You are shown that when the hatch opens, you must wiggle yourself to the edge, and place your legs under the plane. Place the back of your head on your tandem skydiving instructor’s chest and look up.
As a group of first time skydivers started to walk to the plane I met my gnarly, awesome tandem instructor, Max. I got into the harness and up into the plane we went.
I remember telling him to strap anything on me that would keep me from plummeting to my death. He laughed and said, “No worries mate. We’ll have great fun.”
In that moment, I trusted that Max would guide me through this adventure alive.
“This is normal. People give you a lot of trust when it’s their first skydiving experience,” said Donald Poulin, one of the owners of Parachute MontrÃ©al, a skydiving school in St-Esprit.
Since I decided to become an adrenaline junkie, I had to go big or go home. Not only did I jump from 11,000 feet, but I volunteered to jump out first.
It took about 20 minutes before we reached the drop zone. Everyone in that plane was extremely quiet. Everyone was probably thinking the same thing I was: what do I do and what is the free fall going to feel like? I still wasn’t nervous, or scared. I was experiencing a burst of adrenaline and wanted to get this started and jump out already! The questions I had beforehand asked about how safe skydiving was disappeared.
“It’s like driving a car. You have to respect the speed limit, follow the rules and if you do, chances of an accident are low. Skydiving is the same thing. People are what would make it not safe,” said Poulin, who has done over 5,000 jumps himself.
Waiting for the hatch to open, I remembered what my mate Anita had told me, “the adrenaline rush is incomparable to anything in this world.”
The hatch finally opened and all I saw were large, fluffy, white clouds. I did look down while I scooted to the edge of the plane and placed my legs underneath. Clouds engulfed the plane. I leaned back, looked up and Max pushed us out.
It is definitely difficult to breathe through your nose during the free fall, but it is by far the best feeling in the world. A liberating feeling just washes over you in that moment. After forty seconds of free fall, Max pulled the parachute cord.
Floating around Cairns, I had the best view of the city. I saw the mountains and sugar canes, all while the sun was setting.
Skydiving is not something that you could only do when you are on vacation. Montreal has many surrounding areas that offer skydiving.
“We offer jumps at 13,500 feet. You’ll have 55 seconds of free fall,” said Poulin of Parachute MontrÃ©al.
The moment your parachute cord has been pulled and you begin floating around, you will experience the second best part of skydiving after the free fall: the view.
“On a clear day, you’ll have a nice view. You could see downtown Montreal, the Olympic Stadium, the river, the airport, etc.,” added Poulin. “This time of year, you will have the best view. You’ll see the orange and red leaves on the trees and the air is dry and not too warm.”
If skydiving is on your bucket list, give it a shot. The adrenaline rush you get out of it is incomparable to anything else you will experience. Just be prepared to be so hyped up after you land from the adrenaline rush that you will want to go bungee jumping.
Skydiving locations near Montreal:
29 Route 125 in St-Esprit
or call 1-877-PARA-MTL
Parachutisme Nouvel Air (30 minutes away from Montreal)
200 Lebeau Rd. in Farnham
or call (450) 293-8118
Ã‰cole de parachutisme Voltige 2001
4680 Principale St. in Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes
or call (450) 752-0385