A brief report based on Wing Commander Jai Kishan’s Everest Skydive Experience:
IAF OFFICER SKYDIVES OVER MOUNT EVEREST
Some said it couldn’t be done, some said it shouldn’t be done but nothing stopped Wing Commander Jai Kishan , a Parachute Jump Instructor of Indian Air Force to under take Everest Skydive from a daring height of 8,333 meter besides the tallest mountain of the world ,Mt Everest 8848 meters ,also known as third pole or the BIG “E”. Wing Commander Jaikishan arrived in Kathmandu on 5th October, 2009 to participate in Everest Skydive from a height of 29,500 feet (470 feet higher than Mount Everest) .
After reaching Kathmandu, Jai Kishan completed 11 days acclimatization trek to Everest Base Camp (17,300 feet). Acclimatization is essential at this altitude to avoid Acute Mountain Sickness and other more serious high altitude related illnesses. After completion of acclimatization phase , on 16th October at 0900 hrs , Jai made a trial skydive along with Mr. Tom Noonan( USA) and Mr. Ian Bishop ( Australia) from 25,000 feet using the Pilatus PC-6 aircraft . This was the first trial jump of the season for Everest Skydive of 2009. After exit, while free falling from 25,000 ft , with speed of over 200 miles per hour, the skydivers were exposed to temperatures falling upto -20 degrees Celsius . After free-falling for forty-five seconds Jai successfully deployed his main parachute and landed safely at Shyangboche ,the Everest Skydive Drop Zone.
On 17th October at 0830 hrs Wing Commander Jai Kishan along with Miss Wendy Smith (New Zealand) and Miss Mery Noonan(USA) got airborne to attempt Everest Skydive from 8,939m beside Mt Everest (8848m). However due to clouds and strong jet stream at 30,000 feet they made the skydive from 27,500 feet. This time jumpers faced a temperature of – 28 degree. After free falling for approximately 60 seconds at a speed of 220 mile per hour Jai Kishan deployed his parachute and successfully displayed the Indian tri-colour in the cold Everest air for almost 5 minutes before landing. In Jai’s own words,“ It is an amazing moment as you rocket pass the highest mountain of the world” .
The Everest Skydiving event was organized by Mr. Suman Pandey, President of Explore Himalaya, an adventure travel company based in Kathmandu. Mr.Pandey congratulated Wing Commander Jai for being the first Indian to skydive in the Everest region, in front of the world’s highest peak, Mt.Everest.
For Jai, it’s a dream come true. He feels jubilant and thankful to his officials, Aero club of India and Mr.Suman Pandey, who helped him to achieve this daring milestone. Talking about his experience about the Everest Skydive in the Everest Region, he said, “This was one of the most fabulous skydive for me. Skydiving in high altitude is one of the most complicated and challenging activity. As you gain height, the oxygen gets thinner. It gets difficult to breathe and to fly an aircraft. Above 18,000 feet–effects of hypoxia are described in terms of time of useful consciousness, which ranges from 10 minutes at 20,000 feet to 15 seconds at 40,000 feet. The time of useful consciousness without supplemental oxygen at 21,000ft is approximately 8 minutes. Thus undertaking a skydive into thin air of Everest region demand high standard of physical fitness, mountain acclimatization beside proper high altitude jump equipments. The Oxygen equipment arranged by Explore Himalaya were well suited for this extreme Skydive. Being a Everester and a qualified Combat Free Fall Parachute Jump Instructor , Jai possess both the quality to achieve this daring milestone.
He added that the Everest skydive Drop Zone, Shyangboche , is positioned in the forks of a Y. Wooded, steep-sided valleys with exposed vertical rocky outcrops fall away 3000ft to form the fork of the Y, with tumbling white-water rivers converging at the leg of the Y. Another deep valley continue down towards Lukla, a drop of about 2000ft. To the north of the drop zone is a high ridge line and to the south is a near vertical drop of approximately 500ft into the populated town of Namche Bazar.
Some of the concerns faced by the skydivers while jumping from from 27500 feet, were losing control over direction due the prevailing strong Jet stream in Everest Region , drifting away from the safety zone and in the worst case scenario a delay opening of parachute and hitting the high raised mountain surrounding the Drop Zone .This difficulties were further added with landing obstacles like wide open crevasses and other ground obstacles besides the glaciers.
But for Jai, having skydived over Mt. Everest he has fulfilled not only his dream but also the dream of his family, for whom Jai’s dream had became their own dream – Jai, free falling in front of the tallest peak on Earth, Mt.Everest. According to Jai, “ I am happy that I finally realized my long cherished dream of skydiving over Mt Everest, that too on a day as auspicious as Deepawali!”