Towards the end of 2019, I ticked something off my bucket list which I wasn’t sure would ever happen – skydiving! The ultimate bucket list item.
Before I tell you the story about me jumping out of a plane, 13,000 feet up in the air, let me take you back 5 years. Back to a time when I was terrified of flying.
A few days before a flight, I would get that anxious feeling in my stomach, I wouldn’t be able to sleep thinking about it. When I’d get on a plane, I had to sit by the aisle because I couldn’t look out the window. Any bit of turbulence had me grabbing the person beside me (often strangers!). And if someone stomped down the aisle, I felt like the plane might go down!
You might ask why I’d put myself through all that, but I wasn’t going to stay put when I had the world to explore! Nobody and nothing tells me what to do!
I was living in Dubai for 3 years when I finally decided to take the plunge (literally). It was something I always wanted to do but never believed I’d have the courage to do it. I used to watch the skydivers from the balcony of my apartment – there would be hundreds every day!
PIN FOR LATER!
I always figured my fear of flying meant that I would most certainly have a fear of skydiving. But my fear of flying was slowly diminishing, the more flights I was taking.
Eventually, it was my friend’s dad who motivated me to do it. He was also terrified of flying, more so than me, and he flew to Dubai to see his daughter and do a skydive for charity. I thought if he could do it, then I could. Plus, it was more fun to do it with other people I knew. My friend joined along with her dad, and a guy I worked with who was leaving Dubai.
Why skydiving in Dubai?
Famous for its incredible high-rise buildings, white sandy beaches and man-made islands, Dubai is one of the most popular destinations for adventure seekers in the world. If you’re ever going to do a skydive, it HAS to be in Dubai with Skydive Dubai. Here’s why:
- The weather in Dubai means that you’ll rarely have to postpone or cancel your jump
- The views from 13,000 feet are second to none.
- If you love it (and you will), you have the chance to do a course so you can jump on your own!
Skydiving isn’t a cheap hobby. But it is a once in a lifetime experience. Unless you take the course above! The cost to skydive is AED 2,199 (roughly $600). This includes a USB with a video of your entire skydiving experience and photos.
We arrived early for check-in. Once we were checked in, we had the chance to leave our personal items in a locker before being shuffled into a room to watch a short video.
Then I met my tandem buddy who took me through a few moves to remember during the jump and helped me put on my harness. By this stage, my stomach was doing somersaults!
Next, I met my videographer for a short interview. He was with me from start to finish.
Time to go!
This was the part I was most scared of. Flying in a tiny plane! I was expecting it to be a rickety old thing, shaking all the way up. In actual fact, I didn’t mind it. It was a pretty smooth flight!
The plane had a row of seats on each side and we all squished in, getting VERY close to each other. There were 6 jumpers (me, my 3 friends and 2 others). Each jumper had their tandem buddy and a photographer.
Aside from the 18 of us, there were 3 guys sitting on the floor right next to the open door (yep!). These were guys who had done courses and were racking up the 500 solo jumps they needed before they could get certified. They tend to pay a small sum to go up in the plane, jump, repack the parachute and do it again. And again. And again. And again. Maybe 20 or 30 times a day!
I had been looking down at the floor of the plane, avoiding the windows, when my tandem buddy tapped me on the shoulder and indicated for me to sit on his lap. He strapped my harness to him as we gave one final thumbs-up to our cameraman.
Everything went very fast from there. The light turned green and people started jumping. There wasn’t a second to think. Once the light goes green, there is only a certain window of time for everyone to jump. If you miss this window, you don’t get to jump.
Next thing I knew I was standing at the doorway ready to jump. I’m hunched over so much it looks like I’m giving my tandem buddy a piggyback (did I mention he was about 8 feet tall?).
My videographer jumped out first, then us. We were free falling for around 60 seconds (which felt a lot longer) when my tandem buddy tapped me on the shoulder again. This meant it was time for him to pull the cord on the parachute.
He pulled the cord and we flew upwards, before coming to a stop. And then we just bobbed in the sky. It was almost as if we weren’t moving at all. Everything was quiet and calm, and we finally had a chance to take in the astonishing sights and have a chat.
The first question anyone asks someone in Dubai is ‘So, how long have you been here?’. ‘Two weeks’, he says.’Ummmm…. ‘Oh don’t worry’, he says, ‘I’ve been doing this job for 20 years, I’ve just been in Dubai for 2 weeks!’.
It was incredible, taking in the sights from up there. The Palm Jumeirah, Dubai’s huge man-made Island, looked tiny. I could see my apartment building all the way over in JLT, and he showed me his new apartment building in the Marina.
We landed safely; we were the last out of my group. I had asked him to go slowly on the way down as I wanted to see everything (not because I was too scared to go fast).
Within half an hour of landing, we had our videos and pictures on a USB stick and it was all over.
PIN FOR LATER!
- Arrive before your check-in time in case there’s a queue. You don’t want to miss your time slot and have to wait for the next available one.
- Wear long sleeves. Nobody likes bingo wings (see video above).
- Wear trainers. They don’t allow any open shoes or heels, for obvious reasons.
- If you’re feeling adventurous, ask your tandem buddy (before you go up) if you can steer the parachute!
- Check out the gift shop while you wait for your videos. I picked up a baseball cap and a t-shirt!
- Take it all in. It went so quickly. I feel I need to do it again to really remember the full experience.
Whether you’re a tourist in Dubai or you’ve lived there for years, Skydive Dubai should be on your bucket list of things to do before you leave.
Have you done a skydive? Where? Let me know in the comments below!
Vourneen is a travel junkie and chronic illness warrior. Although she was late to game in terms of travelling, she has picked up numerous tips and tricks from the almost 30 countries she has visited in the past 5 years.