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I’m Afraid Of Heights, But I Jumped Off A Plane At 15,000ft!

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“You’ll love it, Xin! It’s a once in a lifetime thing. You won’t have the sick feeling. Reallyyy….!”

That’s what my friends have been telling me but I just could not comprehend why they kept saying it’s not that scary. I mean, how can it not be scary to jump off a plane at 15,000ft and plummet to the ground at 200kph with just a piece of nylon fabric holding you up? The parachute is what determines your fate. Okay, make that the two parachutes as there’s a backup just in case the first one doesn’t work, which is kind of assuring… or maybe not.

skydiving_5
“Supergirl me! But my mouth was drying up as we were falling at terminal velocity.” (Pic credit: Xin Lee)

My friends and I were travelling around New Zealand, and were supposed to take a flight to Milford Sound that morning. As we were driving to the airport, the airline called to inform us that the flight had been cancelled due to bad weather. As we only had two more days in Queenstown, it meant that I had to skydive that day itself instead of the next day as planned. My heart sank. “Oh no, I am so not prepared for this. No, it can’t be happening!”. I think it was very obvious that I was freaking out because my friend pointed out how pale I looked.

You must be thinking, if you’re that scared, why bother attempting to skydive at all? This is why: I wanted to challenge myself, to get out of my comfort zone. Also, I read a lot of articles about how refreshing it is to conquer one’s fear of heights. Furthermore, my husband and friends – who had already done skydiving – kept assuring me that I won’t experience any sick feeling.

When we arrived at the skydiving venue, these five things kept running through my mind:

I hope the parachute works…
I hope the parachute works…
I hope the parachute works…
Dear God, am I going to die today?
What nice things should I eat if I survive this jump?

skydiving_1
With my skydiving instructor just before we boarded the plane, when I could still smile (Pic credit: Xin Lee)

The lady who got us kitted out in the skydiving jumpsuit and gears was really nice. She tried to comfort me by saying that safety is their number one priority and that no one’s ever had to use the backup parachute. Also, that the only scary part is right before you jump off the plane.

As I was climbing into the jumpsuit, it hit me that this is it – it’s really happening. Fear started to crawl through my veins and brought tears to my eyes. I wiped my tears and proceeded to board the plane. I wasn’t doing it alone but with a friend who was also attempting it for the first time.

on-the-plane
“I can’t believe it’s happening!!” (Pic credit: Xin Lee)

Throughout the flight, her skydiving instructor kept talking to her and helping her get ready. Mine, on the other hand, was silent the whole time. I kept checking with him if there was anything else I should know or if I needed to wear my hat or goggles yet. Essentially, I was starting to freak out. On hindsight, I think it actually helped that he was silent. I tried not to think about the impending jump and distracted myself with the breathtaking view from up there – the lush green trees, beautiful valleys, gorgeous turquoise lake and lots of cute sheep.

A few people started jumping off at 12,000ft, and that nauseous feeling came over me again. I told my instructor, who gave me some oxygen to help calm me down. My turn came. Looking up at the clear sky with my legs hanging off the edge of the plane, I thought to myself, “Oh man, this is it. No turning back”.

the-jump
“I felt sick for about two seconds at this point but that quickly wore off and I was completely fine after that.” (Pic credit: Xin Lee)

After being pushed off the plane, the nausea wore off almost immediately. I finally understood what my friends meant. That sensation when you’re free falling through the open sky….it can’t really be described, you have to feel it yourself. And what an incredible feeling it was!

Everything I had been told turned out to be true. I didn’t feel sick at all, and it’s only scariest just before you jump off the plane.

My favourite part was floating in the air with the parachute holding me up while I marveled at the magnificent view below, above and all around me.

landing
“I survived!” (Pic credit: Xin Lee)

Everything seemed so small from up there. I felt like a tiny speck in this big, big world. I’m glad I pushed through my limits, fought through the nausea and braved myself to skydive. It is, without a doubt, one of the highlights of my life.

 

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Xin Lee
Xin loves cats to bits although she is allergic to them. She is fond of travelling, exploring new territories, trying local food and experiencing their culture.

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