17 Nisan 2012 Salı

One, two, three, jump out!

My father is an ex-parachute instructor; he had jumped with parachute so many times in his youth. He always said to me, “Whenever you become a young man, I’ll support you to jump with parachute.” And I always said that “When I turn 17, I’ll jump”, “When I turn 18, I’ll jump”, “When I turn 19, I’ll jump.” At last I decided to jump on the day I’d be turning 20 and that would happen while I’m in the air on my exact birth hour. How was it? Incredible!

A loss that had happened in the year 2006 has totally changed my life, the decisions that I make, my point of view, and everything. I’m planning to write something about this later.

But during the 2006-2007 eras, some spontaneous things have also begun to occur in my life. And one of them was undoubtedly my first parachute jump on the day of September 2007, on my birthday.

I always talked about this with my father considering my turn to 17, 18 and 19. This chat ended and my last decision was to turn 20 to do the jump. It was going to happen at last.

I was on holiday and got back to home at Ankara, and my father said, “Pack up your stuff, we’re leaving to the construction.” I don’t actually remember the name of the city, but we were going to be in there for a while. As sulky faced, I packed up my stuff and I bowed to the inevitable. My father, his two friends and I began to our journey to the construction area. But since that I was ready for everything, I was not interested in what is going around me; who wouldn’t notice the signs on the road? Who wouldn’t notice the duration of the journey? Because, as I remember now, it was a two or three hours of driving- not 9 hours. How dupe I was!

We arrived at İzmir. What? What were we going to do in there?

“We’ll handle the construction in here,” said by father. But he had a sense of humor while saying this. We kept driving to Selçuk, a town of İzmir. We arrived to the airdrome of THK (Turkish Air Corporation). Then, at finally, I latched on.

“Father,” I said. “Is this place where I’ll… parachute?”

“Yeah, you were saying you would jump when you turn 20.”

Yeah, I was saying that, and yeah, it was happening!

We stayed in a teacherage at night, tomorrow would be the day I’ll parachute. I was only feeling excitement at that night, not any worries or panic. It wasn’t feeling so worrying to feel yourself in the air while you keep your feet on the ground.

Next morning we woke up and went to the airdrome. There were so many parachute students and instructors that were preparing for parachute jumps, wearing their jumpsuits.

My father brought me to the parachute instructor that I was going to make a tandem jump. We decided on the jumpsuit, at the same time he instructed me about the jump.

Tandem jump is a parachute style that is performed with a parachute instructor. The instructor makes the jump, and because that you are connected to him with your jumpsuit, you enjoy the jump too. There’s not a very important and long instruction for it, and if the instructor is a professional, no need to worry. The instructions are about of spreading your arms wide and bending your knees during the free fall in the air. (Free fall is the period after the jump and before the parachute opens)

As my instructor tutored me, I wore my jumpsuit and a parachute hanger (this might not be the exact name of it, but I’ll call it this way). The hanger was tight and and it was hurting a bit my perineum.

It was nearly 8 o’clock in the morning, and within 15 minutes, I’d born. I was going to jump with the first parachute team. And there was not so many things that I needed to do except enjoying the landscape and the moment of jump and free fall. As the time was coming, I began to get excited, and worried. Excitement, worry, excitement, worry- these words were racing against each other in my brain. Would I jump, or would I not? I was too much excited as I couldn’t decide it yet.

We took a walk towards the plane that would fly us into the air and we were going to jump out of it. It was an old plane, no seats inside, just a place to kneel and wait while flying, and the inside was narrow.

My moves were restricted because of the parachute hanger that I wore. I couldn’t get in the plane so my instructor helped me. Everybody got into the plane and took their positions inside. My father was also in the plane. This was probably his second parachute jump after 35 years, and we were going to have the jump altogether.

The engineers started and the plane began to take a destination, and after that, we were in the air, flying. The plane kept rise and rise until the proper feet that we were supposed to accomplish the jump. I began to ask questions to my instructor;

- When are we gonna jump?

- When we achieve to the proper feet. Not yet.


- Are we gonna jump now?

- No, there’s still more to fly.


- Has the moment come yet?

- No, we’ve still got time. You take deep breathes.

My parachute instructor was probably aware of my excitement and anxiety so that he tried to calm me down.

During the flight, he asked me if I would want to perform a different jump such as tumbling or backwards, rather than the usual jump. Like this one:

"No," I said. "I prefer the usual jump." I didn't want any extra excitement as this was my first time.

At last we reached to the proper feet. There were two people that were going to make the tandem jump; one was me, one was another person. There was also a group that was going to make an actual parachute jump, my father included. Someone from that group talked with the pilot, and then he opened the door. To be honest, I was scared while looking at the outside.

The jumper group, including my father, jumped out of the plane… My heartbeats fastened, and a yelling occurred in my brain: Daddyyy!... The other group also jumped, and it was time for the tandem jumpers.

We reached to the open door. My body was inside the plane, while my head was at the outside. There was also a man that was going to record my jump. My instructor reminded me some important moves for the last time, but I wasn’t sure I got it all, as I was looking at the landscape under my feets-

And we jumped… The first five seconds we made a dive, then we took the free fall position that would take 15 or 20 seconds at most. As my instructor touched my shoulder, I spread my arms wide and bended my knees. My position was the same of the scene Tom Cruise was felling down in the movie “Mission Impossible”. The guy that was recording the jump reached to us, kept recording. My face expression was weird because of my anxiety and also the wind that was blowing right onto my face. The guy that was recording the jump was giving me signs about posing. Like this man here:

This man is not me, of course. I was dumbfounded and couldn't pose to the camera.

After the free fall period ended, the instructor released the parachute and with that, a physical gravity force had hit me, hurt my perineum. But it was a second or two so I didn’t feel a great pain. I was such a puppet that was hanging in the air. It was the time to watch the landscape of İzmir until we reach onto the ground. A landscape similar to this one:

I had ear congestion during the fall, but it was harder to deal with it in the air than on the ground, so I couldn’t do it. I kept asking questions to my instructor such as how long he has been doing the jumps, how long it takes to make the overall jump.

As we got closer to the landing, my instructor told me this;

“Bend your knees onto your belly, or we’ll trip and fall.”

It was because of the fact that if my feet landed first, since that I don’t know how to land, we would fall. But it was impossible for me to bend my knees too much. My instructor keep yelling, “Bend, bend, bend!”

We landed on the ground, and the worst happened; we felt down. The parachute had covered us as a spread. People that were waiting near the area arrived and helped us. We didn’t grovel much so it didn’t hurt much.

I began apologizing from my instructor; “Sir, I’m really sorry, I couldn’t bend my knees properly.”

“Not a problem, enjoy yourself,” said the instructor with a grin on his face. He was taking the parachute hanger off his body.

My father instantly arrived there, approached us. First he took a picture of me and my instructor, then he gave the machine to someone else and three of us had our photo taken. My body began to numb, I was like crucified. After landing, my first thought was to live the jump off moment over and over again. I wanted to feel the adrenaline and the excitement of the free fall once more. This was not my last jump, as I repeated it twice in the following two years and I felt the excitement of it even more.

This is my actual video:

Tandem jump is an easy parachuting model. As I said, it has not any training or long instruction period; you just need to make the moves as instructed. If you are cautious, it is a low risk extreme sport- or let’s say, it’s as risky as any other extreme sports performed on land or at sea. One would doubt performing a tandem jump, but once you accomplish the first one, you would want to do it several times, or you can say, “As the actress said to the bishop,” and leave it for another time. But to feel the world under your feet is one of the most incredible and amazing experiences human being can ever achieve.

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