Tandem Skydiving wasn’t on my bucket list until recently when the opportunity came. A few folks wanted the experience and I decided to join in.
Before the jump:
Question: Why jump off a perfectly working plane?
Answer : so I won’t have to jump off a bad one
We departed to Segamat, Johor, Malaysia, the closest location from Singapore where you can tandem skydive. It’s a four hour drive across the country.
There were plenty of waiting around, and I was placed on the second last dive for the day. At around 4.30pm we took the plane up to 9000ft and saw the grey clouds. It rained and Daniel, operator and tandem dive instructor of skydivingsingapore.com stick my hand out to feel for the rain. The rain came heavy, like needles on my hand, that was how fast we were moving. The whole dive got cancelled and we landed with me totally disappointed.
Lucky for us, Daniel decided to hold another tandem dive session the next day, and along with 2 last tandem jumpers from the whole group , we decided to stay the night
The next day
The weather held up and we got some clear skies for the jump. After more waiting for 2 flights up by the fun jumpers and trainee jumpers, I went up once again, this time determined to do the jump with much impatience.
Held my hands to the chest, put one leg at the time outside the plane, arched my back with my neck raised and tilt to the left side of my tandem instructor. Less than a spilt second later, Daniel pushed us off the plane.
The wind blasting so loudly with so much sensory overload, all I had was the whole tunnel vision of the experience, my whole body froze and locked up. Daniel tapped me on my left shoulder for the signal to lift my arms 90degrees angle, palms out, he guided my hands into the first move, left hand raised on top of my head, right hand down, the left to feel for the parachute twice. A practise run for the actual chute pulling.
The whole experience went so fast that I couldn’t even think. The third time I had to pull the chute, Daniel guided my arm again to pull the parachute but my brain didn’t click, I felt the parachute ball however the brain didn’t signal my hand to pull the chute.
The instructor pulled the chute after and I felt a huge tuck on my chest, the force from opening chute would be much great for him than me, as I was strapped to him.
The whole parachute down to ground was amazing, with me enjoying more of the descent than the free fall which was total a blank. I had much more time to enjoy the scenery as well as feeling the sensation of flying in the air.
This was first time I actually saw with my own eyes how the earth was curved and rounded, not flat. Take that Parmenides!
To sum it up : My first skydiving experience was filled with tension, drama,
disappointment, lotsa waiting around, then came the excitement and adrenalin rush.
All these emotions for that short amazing 28seconds of my life.
Controlling the parachute was another issue. It is quite tiring to hold the arms up. Daniel explained the different ways of looking for the wind, looking below the drop zone and finding the X sign on the ground as well as looking out for the wind tunnel flags for direction of the wind
He did a hard right and we spinned a little, quite a rush of moving in a spiral, as we approached the drop zone, he signalled for me to lift my whole legs up to the front completely and we glided it quite gently onto the ground. First jump ended, and I await for the next one eagerly.
Second time round
Daniel explained the same moves but this time to do it at 5.500 ft while looking at my altitude watch every 5 seconds. Not easy to do when you are free falling at 200km/hr with less than 30seconds to pull the chute.
The move consist of :
Immediately after putting the legs out of the cessna plane, arms to each side of chest, then falling out of the plane. Lift arms up 90 degrees, palm facing surrender position, doing the 2 test of left hand moving over the head, right hand to feel for parachute ball on right thigh. Looking at altitude watch, determine at 5.500 ft to deploy the parachute.
The second time I was quite anxious and didn’t want to get on the plane. Pretty nervous compared to the first jump, the whole time on the plane was spent visualizing on the jump.
Daniel added a few new signals as we ascended for the jump. Fist clutched to signal to arch my back more, up, 2 fingers extended : to stretch my legs out two fingers stretch out and bended back : get my legs bended more
Half way up the flight realised I didn’t really remember my first jump and the whole experience of free falling, had totally blanked out and didn’t get to have a good look around, was asking myself why am not just enjoying the whole experience of free falling and stressing myself to pull the chute. Needless to say I was panicky and had tons of stuff going through my head, the second jump had me more nervous than the first.
I told Daniel, I didn’t wanna do the move, and just wanted to experience the feeling of free falling again and letting him to do all the work.
When it was time to jump, I completely blanked, lifted my legs one at the time out of the plane like a zombie, Daniel pushed us over, it was an overwhelming sensation of falling without anything holding on. The wind gushed so fast and I couldn’t even feel myself, I was frozen and locked up in position.
Daniel deployed the drone chute to slow and stabilised us, I unfrozed. Looked at my altitude watch on my left, it was at 7700ft, and remember my moves. Still had some time to feel my body sensations, while my legs were completely frozen, I stretched my legs out and bended it backwards and arched my body more just to feel the movements.
A few seconds passed, looked at my watch again, this time Daniel signal with his left index finger, I nodded, pulling the chute. (Couldn’t even see my altitude, it was such a blur, all I saw was some movement from Daniel.)
Got to look up this time at the chute and saw part of it open. Immediately this whole sense of calm of floating on air overcame me, this was where I enjoyed myself the most, looking over at Segamat town at 4.000ft.
He explained about how to feel and read the winds as we parachute down slowly, to note where the wind came from. Totally couldn’t read the winds, the winds felt like it came from the front and right side of me.
I had to look at the dropzone, to position myself over the X sign on the group, where the wind kite tunnel was there, and to look out for it to read the winds. Quite tough when the wind tunnel kite was pretty tiny. We gently moved in a spiral around the dropzone and i had trouble lifting my frozen legs so I tucked them in and swing my legs out, but it caused a hard bum on the ground.
I am hooked!
Putting a new entry on my bucket list :
Solo Jump coming soon
After the second jump
Question: Why jump off a perfectly good plane twice?
Answer : because it doesn’t have a door”
Where to Do it?
Location : Segamat Country Club, Segamat, Johor, Malaysia
Operator : Tandem jump with skydivingsingapore.com
Cost: Us$260 with 10 tandem divers or Us$280 on your own
My second dive cost me us$280 because I was the only one doing it the second time.
Overnight at Segamat : Malaysian rm$57.20 for a room in hotel
Transport to Segamat takes 3-4hours from Singapore via private coach. sg$400-500 return for a 11 seater bus.
Video on the experience
We watched a introductory video about skydiving with the bearded presenter who skydived with his beard flapping in the skies! – photo by stephanie
All of us had to wear the jumpsuit and the funky googles – photo by stephanie
The Altitude meter I had to keep watching every 5 seconds
The Cessna plane has to be refuel every two flights, fills 60 Litres of petrol
My long walk to the plane!
Daniel the instructor, cum photographer cum videographer for those who wanted the tandem photos. Didn’t get any videos as I rather use the cash for my second jump
Amazing setup, camera with video camera. The camera is triggered with his teeth! Not an easy feat when you are free falling at 200km/hr in the skies.
The jump manifest for the first day where my flight got cancelled due to poor weather!