Dive into the void

Micro-Stories Dive into the void
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The door of the single engine plane is wide open. I'm sitting on the floor, which is jolted by the vibrations, right on the edge of it. My legs are hanging out of the plane, while my body is marginally within it. My head is turned up and all I see is the bright blue of the sky. The plane is taking a steady course at 14.000 legs. The air coming in at this speed allows you to hear almost nothing. I feel the straps tied tightly around my body, being momentarily pulled slightly inwards. Immediately after a sharp push sends me out of the plane, in vacuum…

-3 weeks earlier-

Early August tucked into a pouf of a pizza bar, under the shade of a tree, I'm reading the last few pages of a self-improvement book. There are few people in the shop, after all, it's still morning, it's early for swimming. The soft music playing from the speakers is not disturbing at all. My mind wanders to something I read in the book: That when you want to do something you really like, there should be no excuses that prevent you from doing it. Without realizing it, the first thing that comes to mind is jumping out of a plane. By parachute, obviously, Hellenistic skydiving!

A repulsion of mine for so many years, which, however, I never found the right moment to dare. Either I didn't have the money, or I didn't have the time, or I didn't have the right company. The one I always had though, it was a nice excuse in my mind that held me back and wouldn't let me make it happen. This is the truth! It took me a few seconds to take the plunge and make the decision: By the end of the month I will have done it… After a quick mobile search, I find a company that does skydiving. With a phone call I solve everything,what questions do I have and book my appointment for the jump. But now it's time to dive into the sea... solemnly!!

The days pass slowly but finally the day for the jump arrives. I start by car early in the morning, because I have several kilometers to the destination point: Kopaida airport, near the Castle of Boeotia. The jump will take place at noon, but I have to be there an hour early for preparation and training. On the trip, fortunately, I will have a friend with me so that the kilometers go by easier and I have a person to take me back, if the parachute does not open. Stop for coffee-water and we left!!

Around 12:00 we arrive at the "airport", which is a large green meadow… With some buildings and some isoboxes in which the company's offices are located. My excitement has hit red. First stop at the reception desk. After a short briefing from the manager I have to fill in and sign some forms for formal and legal reasons. Oh yes, and to pay, before the jump for obvious reasons. It goes without saying that in such an activity everyone wants to have photos and videos of this experience. The manager informs me about the two options provided by the company, since the use of a personal camera is prohibited for security reasons: The download from the instructor (handy-camera), which I choose, or being picked up by an additional parachutist (outside camera flyer). The process involves recording the entire experience: from preparation, by the instructor on the ground, until landing!

I'm done with the procedures and the second stop is the training area. As long as I wait for my instructor to call me, I stare at the space around me. Paratroopers prepare parachutes on the ground, fold them carefully with precise movements and secure them in their case. Screens in the background playing videos of various past jumps, hangers with equipment and accessories. People waiting like me to hear their name for education.

A moment later the sound of a propeller plane approaching for landing makes its presence felt in the space. I'm going out to see it. After all, I'll get into that too, I imagine, when it's my turn. A small single-engine plane lands safely on the grass and parks around the 100-150 meters away from where I am. Looking at the sky I see their open parachutes, who seconds before was inside the plane, to quickly approach the facilities. One by one the paratroopers choose their landing spot and land with characteristic ease, after first drawing some circles over the landing zone. Seconds later the trainers also land, each with his pair, that is, the person who is "tied" to him.

Ok, ok i admit it. So long I have not mentioned a small and insignificant detail. You don't do the tandem jump alone. They don't strap a parachute to your back and throw you out of a plane. Not that they don't trust you, Alas. You do the jump after being safely attached to an experienced instructor, through a special dependency. The instructor is the one who does all the handling and makes sure you get to the ground fit. And indeed, all who landed are fit, happy and from their smiles it seems that they really had a good time!!

Once the instructors leave the open parachutes and take a break for the necessary breaths, they start calling out the names of their new couples. I also hear mine from my trainer and go to him. After the necessary recommendations and a relaxed chat, it's time for training. The training that takes place on the ground, as he informs me, is important. To know exactly what to do before and during the jump, so that everything goes well and we are safe.

After first putting on my special outfit, with which he will later secure me to him, starts the update. The jump will be made from 14.000 legs (to save you the conversions is 4,3 km). From the moment we leave the plane, the free fall begins, at a speed of about 220km/h and will last almost a minute. To avoid facing the planet, the instructor will open the parachute and we will "fly" together for the next ones 5-7 minutes were too many, until we land. Piece of cake. Questions;; None. Perfect!!

Time to learn and practice now how I should set up my body, when we are at the plane door. But also when we fall into the void, because even the smallest detail matters. I lie face down on a small bench, in front of a mirror, to see me and correct me or to admire me… I'm not sure… to simulate the position I will have, when we will tear the sky at 220km/h. He explains exactly how my hands should be open, how to bend my body backwards, to get better aerodynamics. As well as the signals he will give me when it is time to open the parachute, so that I can gather my hands. Theory over. Time for action.

We walk to the plane, along with the rest of the people who will jump to get on board, which is located at one end of the runway. If you can call grass that way… The time is drawing near 12:30. The sun burns me and blinds me, while the heat is unbearable.  The instructor, despite the heat, he is wearing a jumpsuit and holding his helmet in his hand. He has the parachute on his back, while on the front of his equipment hang the safety rings. I have the same rings, but at the back end of my dependency. The safety glasses I will wear, he will give them to me just before the jump. After a few photos outside the plane it's time to board. If I were a dog my tail would almost certainly come off from the back and forth.

First we enter the pairs together with our instructor, followed by the experienced paratroopers who will jump first. The plane is a small one and its door is at the back of it. My instructor sits first and I sit between his legs, so that when the time comes he can secure me with the rings on him. So do all the other couples. The plane is suffocating with the remaining paratroopers. All of us have our bodies facing the back of the plane. The pilot starts the engine and the last person to board the plane closes the door. Seconds later, the plane starts slowly and gets into position for take off. Engine, with its characteristic sound, revs up, the plane accelerates and after a while its wheels come loose from the safety of the ground. We're going up.

The plane is constantly gaining height and the view from its windows is getting better and better. We have a little time ahead of us for photos and a short recap of the theory from the instructor, who shouts close to my ear so I can hear him. About half way through he "ties" me to him with the safety rings and now we are as one body, while also letting me wear the safety glasses. The plane continues its upward course until at some point the paratrooper sitting next to the door gets up and opens it. We are at 14.000 legs.

 I feel my heart beating like crazy. Without wasting a second the first paratroopers reach the door and one by one or in groups they dive out of the plane and disappear into the void. My mind fails to understand at that moment how they do it with such comfort and ease. The plane empties in seconds and it's our turn. We sit on the floor of the plane and crawl in this position to the door. First my legs and then almost my whole body, is outside the plane. My hands hold the straps firmly against my chest.  As I sit on the edge of the door, while my body leans back, on the instructor. A slight sway of our bodies back and forth and forward again and the trainer's hands push us into space…

Everything revolves at the beginning. One I see the sky and the plane moving away and one the earth. The void swallows us in a flash. The instructor immediately stabilizes us on the horizon with his body. He signals me to let go of the straps and open my arms too for more stability. The feeling of free fall that I feel, it gets my adrenaline pumping. At the same time, the incredible view from this height catches my eye, as the instructor spins us as we fall. Green fields like big green pixels, hills, mountains and a lake in the background alternate below me. The seconds fly by, when suddenly I feel a double tap on my shoulder: Signal that I should fold my arms over my chest again, to open the parachute. The instructor pulls the parachute's release strap and it deploys instantly, noticeably slowing our fall.

We are now hanging below the parachute in a vertical position, the speed has slowed down a lot and now we can talk to each other. I take off my safety glasses, while the instructor directs us to the landing zone. He asks me if I'm up for some extra adrenaline, as if I was bored all this time… Obviously I say yes. Then pulling on the straps that guide the parachute we start and make quick tight turns essentially writing a spiral as we fall, always being careful not to have any unfortunate encounters with other skydivers. Later, for a while he gives me the straps too and with his guidance I turn the parachute once to the left and once to the right.

We are now approaching the ground. The instructor takes over the parachute again and asks me to take the landing stance, that is, to stretch my legs forward. It guides the parachute to where we will land. With the appropriate manipulations at the last moment, it slows our fall even more and we land smoothly on the grass. That's it!! Full of excitement with a smile from ear to ear I get up for the last souvenir photos in the company of my trainer. With the parachute roughly packed in our arms, the instructor and I walk to the training area and chat about the jump. He has to get ready for the next jump and I have to get the gear out and make my way back. I explain to him how many years I've wanted to go skydiving and how happy I am that I finally did.

"Luckily you don't have a fear of heights and you were able to do it" he tells me.

"No, I have a fear of heights and this was one more reason to do it".

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3 thoughts on “Dive into the void”

  1. Ελπίζω αγαπητέ συγγραφέα ότι με την περιπέτειά σας αυτή, την οποία μας αφηγηθήκατε με πάσα λεπτομέρεια, υπερνικήσατε την υψοφοβία σας. Από την άλλη η γλαφυρότητα της περιγραφής σας, συνδυαζόμενη με τον εκφραστικό σας πλούτο, ξύπνησε σε μένα την υψοφοβία. Άρα η (εμπειρική) σας ιστορία κρίνεται επιτυχημένη.

      1. Από την πλευρά του αναγνώστη ελπίζω να μην απωλέσετε την υψοφοβία σας ποτέ. Γιατί έτσι θα συνεχίζετε να κάνετε δράσεις, να συμμετέχετε σε extreme δραστηριότητες, τις οποίες θα μας περιγράφετε με τη ζωντάνια και την παραστατικότητα που χαρακτηρίζει τη γραφή σας. Κι εμείς έτσι θα συνεχίσουμε να απολαμβάνουμε τα κείμενά σας.

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