Last December, I spent a fortune diving from 10000 ft- something like 1000 Rs every second. Skydiving is an amazing adventure sport everyone dream about, but only few venture out to perform actual dive. When I learnt that Skydiving was happening in Mysore, I was tempted to give it a try, but was taken aback by the price. A tandem jump sets you back by about 30k. Though it sounded expensive, I made up my mind and signed up (If you wish to understand why, read second half of this article)
There’re 3 types of jumps- Static or solo jump, which involves jumping from 5000 ft with no freefall, tandem jump, which involves jumping from 10000 ft with an instructor, with about 30-40 seconds of freefalls and AFF, which involves diving in groups and controlling our chutes on our own.
I opted for tandem jump. On the assigned day, I reached Mysore airport. Staff from Kakini enterprises, organizers of the skydiving arrived later. There were about a dozen participants that day and my turn was at the end. That day’s group had few air force personnel and some adventure seekers like me. Those performing static dive had to undergo training previous afternoon and clear a test that morning, before instructor felt confident that they’re good to go. (Static dive is done without instructor, hence students should be familiar with emergency operations). A small Cessna would take participants up, one at a time. Watched others dive and eagerly waited for my turn. After each dive the parachute is repacked and readied for next jump.
By Mid day my turn came, all decked up in a red suite we boarded the cessna. My instructor, Rajan, demonstrated how to step out of the plane when in mid air. Another instructor got on board to record the precious life moments of my dive. Fitted with a goPro and a video camera on his helmet, he would jump with us to capture the memorable moments of free fall!
Cessna is like a TVS XL50- takes its own sweet time to climb up. Fighter jets take 30 seconds to reach 10000 ft, while Cessna 172 took full 30 mins. As the pilot took permission from ATC and became airborne, I enjoyed viewing Mysore airport and nearby places from high above.
As the craft neared 10000 ft, our preparations began. I moved forward a bit, while my instructor, Rajan sir came behind me and locked myself to him. This helps both of us jump together. The other instructor, Ales (who would jump with us to take photos and videos) made space for our exit, by almost hanging on to the wings…
I could see the land deep below and the thought that we’re taking a shortcut vertically down gave a strange kind of excitement and feeling. I told myself that it is going to be an easy jump. I reminded myself that all I needed to do was to just trust my instructor and not panic or do anything stupid.
2 minutes to jump…
Go pros and cameras were turned on, we inched out of the aircraft slowly, with my right leg out first, right hand next and then positioning myself under the instructor. Cessna is a very small craft, so doesn’t have the luxury of standing straight while jumping out. When jumping out of bigger planes, that is possible. Next few moment I was hanging off my instructor, my legs folded and my hands close to my chest, away from the aircraft wing support.
The Free fall:
Next few moments, we were separated from the craft and having free fall towards earth. No one to stop us-just the gravity and we headed vertically down. 5000 ft covered in 30 odd seconds. First few seconds I’d closed my eyes, then I opened it and enjoyed the view around. For a brief moment we made a small formation and few good photos were taken. I was able to breath normally. The experience is difficult to be explained in words- need to be felt once in a lifetime. Those were the moments you feel the life is worth living for.
Then suddenly we slowed down, as my instructor deployed parachute at about 5000 ft, after 34 seconds of free fall. I was giving basic training on controlling the direction and speed of the chute, we spend few minutes merrily in the air before touching down. Friends and relatives waiting at the airport asked “How was it” and rest of the day was spent in explaining the experience.
I was given a booklet which would consist of my diving records. That evening, I went home far more confident and proud.
Is 30k too much for a skydiving session?
There’s a popular hindi saying- Iraada pakka hain to raasta nikalta hain, nahin to bahane nikalte hain (When we are really determined, we can find out a way, else we tend to find excuses). Deep inside, many of us are eager to try skydiving, but our superficial mind doesn’t encourage us to take the final decision to sign up.
My wallet is low lighter by more than quarter of a lakh rupees, spent at the rate of 1k per second during my 35 seconds of free fall from 10000 feet skydiving expedition. I had to face repeated concerns that skydiving is expensive and waste of money. Spending 30k in one go might seem like a lot, but tiny drops do make mighty ocean. Over time, we do waste much larger amounts, but in smaller installments, on various other things and we don’t even notice how much money we’re wasting.
If you’re tempted by the adventure of skydiving but limited by the thought of the cost, read this post further, you may get some tips how to save up for your skydiving session.
Kakini enterprises, with whom I did my tandem jump, charge about 15.5k for a static jump and 27.5k for tandem. AFF costs close to 30k. Travel and stay extra. For simplicity, let us keep a number of 30k, assuming you’ll do a tandem jump or may be 2 static jumps.
If you feel spending 30k at once for a life time experience is too much, as yourself below questions.
1. During the last family function or event, how much food was wasted? What were the unnecessary expenditures (mostly done for show off or to retain social status, no real value add) that could have been avoided?
2. How much money did you spend on partying or alcohol over past 6 months? 5k per month on visiting pubs adds up to 30k in 6 months
3. If you’re into buying gold ornaments and showing it off, ever considered the risk of it getting stolen or robbed? I am better off putting my money on a lifetime experience no one can steal.
4. You may be saving lots for your retirement or future. But if the same dive costs 3 times then or if your health doesn’t permit participating in adventure activities, then what is the point?
5. What is the cost of living a life full of regrets- of things you always wanted to try but never took the decision to complete it, fearing one factor or another? Are you not better off with completing one of those tasks and feel satisfied?
6. With a new year resolution of staying fit, you have taken a 6 month gym membership. 3 weeks into the new year, how many days did you really visit the gym?
7. Are there any luxuries you can live without for some time? Such as
a. Can you cycle to work or take office bus instead of car for 6 months?
b. Can you skip your monthly shopping expedition which results in buying unnecessary items worth several thousand just because it caught your fancy or because there was a sale?
c. Can you postpone renewing that club membership by 6 months?
d. Should you really take that vacation in peak season paying double for everything? Can you plan the same in off peak season?
e. Do you really need to buy that latest overpriced smart phone at 40-50k which becomes obsolete in less than an year?
So, I recommend viewing it from a different angle. Do not judge from the cost of the jump, but view it from the value of the experience you get and the confidence it gives you. If you’ve noticed above, you’d have definitely wasted similar amount already on various things that could have been avoided.
I did spend some quality time interacting with Dr Aanchal, who runs Kakini enterprise, organizers of skydiving in Mysore. Skydiving is not cheap- it might look like just a few seconds activity going high up in air and jumping- but there’re huge costs involved, because of which skydiving can’t be any cheaper.
· Airport needs to be paid for every minute of using their property and services
· Aircraft costs crores to buy and maintain
· Lots of time and effort needs to be spent in getting huge list of approvals required to operate a plane, using airport, performing dives and so on
· Each parachute costs 3-4 lakhs and after 600 jumps, need complete overhaul
· Getting best of crew to conducting skydiving is not easy. There’re very few well trained professionals in this field.
· Cost of skydiving in India is almost at par with any other places in the world
· If more people sign up for skydiving, per jump cost can go down. But unfortunately awareness about skydiving is low in India and turn out is not really encouraging for organizers to keep the camp running for long.