This adrenalin pumped activity is one that almost anybody can experience just once in their lifetime. Although if you've been skydiving before, chances are you'll want to do it again.
My first jump out of a plane was at 24 years old with Coral Sea Skydivers. What an extremely exhilarating feeling that no one can take away from you when you have landed. New life is breathed into you and the world is your oyster. It gives you inspiration that you want to harness almost immediately.
You also feel a sudden urge to get straight back up into the plane and do it all over again. It is a happy moment. I can understand how people get addicted to it. Though learning to do it yourself, without an instructor to take the reins, I think 'takes guts.'
This brings me to the joy of telling you about Tandem Skydiving. My second jump was also a tandem jump, but done right here in Western Australia. W.A. Skydiving Academy conducts tandem jumps in three top locations; Perth City, Pinjarra and Mandurah Beach.
I experienced my jump at the Pinjarra drop zone approximately 85km south of Perth. Driving from the City it takes around 1 hour to arrive, taking the Kwinana Freeway South.
Exit at Pinjarra Road turnoff and continue left until you reach the town of Pinjarra. At the T intersection, turn left again. Follow the road around for a short distance, over the bridge to the Premier Hotel. Turn right onto Pinjarra Williams Road. The drop zone is about 4 kilometres down on the right.
Before facing your very first jump, they recommend you visit the drop zone and be shown around the training facility. This will enable you to meet the instructors, feel more at ease and see others jump and land before you. This is a good time to find out about the use of services and staying overnight if necessary.
The cost for tandem skydiving varies, dependent upon location, height of jump, souvenirs and restrictions. A deposit is required at the time of booking.
Pinjarra main base operates 7 days a week. The minimum jump is 6,000ft with 10 seconds of freefall at $240 and a maximum jump of 14,000ft with 60 seconds of freefall at $400. You may also jump 8,000, 10,000 and 12,000ft. This price excludes DVD or photos, but can be arranged at an additional cost. They also conduct Accelerated Freefall (AFF) courses.
The Perth City drop zone offers free airport transfer for Tandem jumps if required. Running Monday to Friday landing into Tompkins Park next to Alfred Cove in Swan River, jump from 8,000 to 12,000ft, freefalling 25-45 seconds. Cost is $450 to $530 and includes Freefall DVD.
New to the scene are the metropolitan Mandurah Beach jumps, scanning the lovely Halls Head beach. These are available Monday to Friday and include a Freefall DVD souvenir in the price. You can jump between 8,000 and 14,000ft for $450 to $570. This gives you 25-60 seconds of freefall. Look here for all heights and prices in between.
The in-flight views along the coast of WA are far-reaching and spectacular. Depending on your jump location, sights range from outside the City of Perth, Garden Island, Rottnest Island and right down to Bunbury. The views while parachuting are amazing too. You just have less time to enjoy them. If you ask, sometimes they can show you a few parachuting techniques mid-air.
A souvenir DVD and photos are a fantastic way to recall your time spent skydiving. To take away footage of the day, rather than relying on your memory alone, is a terrific way to relive your experience at a later date or inspire yourself for another jump. Show your family and friends how you did it. They'll be impressed at your courage hurtling freefall through the air at 200kmh.
The Great Souvenir DVD is $120 and The Ultimate Souvenir DVD & Photos are $205. This shows each stage of your skydive. From preparation on the ground, the plane ride, freefall, parachute opening and landing, it's all there and they suggest you don't miss out on seizing the opportunity to film it. After all, it's not every day we throw ourselves out of a perfectly good plane, right? I've been told it's safer then taking off and landing in the plane anyway.
There are formalities to get out of the way before you jump too. You have to sign waivers to injury and the like, but they are extremely safe when it comes to jumping. You are firmly secured to your tandem instructor, who has everyone's safety in mind. Keep yourself informed and pay close attention when you are given the twenty minute brief and further instructions on the ground. Insurance is an option if you wish to buy it for around an extra $30.
You are given a two month licence as a Student Parachutist, from the Australian Parachute Federation, which may be revoked at any time. This entitles you to a 30% discount off your next jump if used within that timeframe. You can also rope a friend in and he or she receives a 10% discount. It'll save you around $100.
W.A. Skydiving Academy has been registered for over twenty years and will not conduct jumps in adverse weather conditions. Even slight changes could cause delays or otherwise. They adhere to strict regulations administered by the Australian Parachute Federation (APF). The Academy's Drop Zone Safety Officer (DZSO) will assess the situation in all factors.
I Can See a Tiny Speck Getting Blown Around Up There
The academy also promote the best locations when it comes to value for money. Already being at sea level, you do get what you pay for. Some other contenders or companies start well above sea level, losing that distance in the jump.
Tandem jumping comes with restrictions on age and weight, which makes sense. Some circumstances may allow up to 110kg, but normally instructors take people 95kg and below. They need to be able to handle or be in control of any situation that may arise. This would prove difficult if the other person outweighed them I guess. I'm not certain but the parachutes might have restrictions on weight as well. An extra charge of $5/kg is instated from 95-110kg if required.
People as young as 14 years old can jump, obtaining written and signed parental consent and anyone over 18 years old places the onus on themselves. There is no maximum age limit. I recently read of a 90 year old man jumping. Wow!
At the end of your thrilling adventure you receive a well-deserved certificate as proof of your bravery, excitement and achievement. Gift vouchers can be bought for loved ones, but be careful as some may not necessarily appreciate the thought.
Further enquiries can be made via the website or by calling 1300 137 855 Australia Wide. If you're still not feeling sure, but are very curious, the main office in Northbridge makes videos and information available. Do some prior research of your own if that helps, or ultimately, just take the plunge.