– Menuka Gurung, Everest Skydive Team
I saw a lot of professional skydivers jumping, flying, landing; and even more numbers of adventure seekers dying to skydive. Working in the Sales desk of Everest Skydive, talking to skydivers and seeing them day in and out (during the season) is just a part of my job. So, skydiving is definitely not an exotic adventure for me, not something I would raise my brows at! However, I had a secret. As much as I was familiar with the skydiving world, I was at the same time equally alien to it. Because, I had never done it! The Cause? It’s plain and simple – I was acrophobic!
Skydiving was on the top of my “not-to-do” bucket list. I can’t say the idea never came in my mind. Back in 2013, one of our skydiving crew asked me why I hadn’t tried it. I said sheepishly I feared height. Then he said something which blew my mind. He said, “So do I.” Foreseeing my expected reaction, he continued, “That’s why I enjoy it. If there is no fear, there is no adventure.” Well at that time, I was compelled to give a little thought about it. But then I was never courageous enough to dream about it!
To cut the long story short, year 2018 brought something I wouldn’t mind to say a “quantum leap”… when I say it I mean it both literally and figuratively. It all started in Pokhara Skydive event that took place from 20th to 25th November. As we had 100 + jumpers booked for the year, we were quite busy. After the first two days’ back-to-back skydiving operation, on the third day, our team leader Anuj offered us a skydiving chance.
Then and there, without a second thought, I readily accepted! Till this time I can’t figure out how the heck I convinced myself for the jump. Now the time was of anticipation! The ticklish pressure of anxiety, and the butterflies in my tummy- though I went through it all the time, to my surprise, I was unexpectedly calm. I had seen hundreds of skydivers going up and coming down over-and-over day-after-day with brimful smile. Maybe, this has normalized the whole thing. So, the idea of “I am not going to die” might have done the trick.
So, my turn came. Things started to get real! The butterflies in my tummy de-evolved back to caterpillars. I was freaking out on the inside! While gearing up, my tandem master Dr. Ryan Jackson debriefed me, to which, I could hardly pay any attention because there were lot many voices echoing in my mind. My videographer Omar was capturing the moment and I was trying to look as normal as possible which I utterly failed. (I knew it when I saw my video afterwards-my awkward posture and gait looked all so funny. Every time my son wants to make fun of me he reminds me of the video). So, the chopper took off with me, Ryan, Omar and Nadezda.
Once in the air, the whole new level of experiences started to unfurl before me. My Goodness, the views! Of course this is not my first time in air but everything around me felt so ethereal, and so divine. The floating Annapurnas, Machhapuchhre, the hills, the lakes and the ocean of clouds! As I was in my reverie, completely awestruck by the immensity, the infinity; Ryan signaled me for tethering against him. Then, I came back to senses … come on I am here for jumping out of the chopper! So the final moment came. Omar and Nadia were already out hanging at the edge, somewhere above 12/13000ft above! We skidded to the edge of the chopper. I dared to peak over the edge and holy crap … do I really want to do this? Countdown started and then … whooosh!
All I remembered about the first few seconds is the force of the wind gushing by me. And I did everything wrong! My eyes should be open and lips ought to be shut or smiling (at least for beautiful pictures). But my eyes were tightly shut and my mouth widely open. Heck with the Banana Position! I even forgot to spread my arms. It was fanatically trying to adjust my lips as I felt them very dry and being blown away. I felt my skin was literally coming off! Hurtling myself down to the ground at about 180/90 km per hour speed… what I could do? I totally yielded to the force, the power of gravity! Honestly it was scary in the beginning but I couldn’t say what was “It” afterwards! It was like “being me” and “not being me” at the same time!
Once the canopy of the parachute opened, we again rocketed up. Then after everything was serene and silent… the only sound that could be heard was the fluttering of the canopy. Everyone says “the freefall” is the most treasured moment of the whole adventure but for me, the sudden transition from speed to stroll, the juxtaposition was utterly unearthly. The gentle fall started but, my part of adventure was not over yet. Ryan started to talk to me, showed me the lakes and hills which were still way down.
He even gave me a chance to maneuver the parachute. There were still some aerial acrobats and the views were still glorious- the only difference was, this time I was getting closer to my abode – the ground! Then we had a perfect landing in style! After the touchdown, all I could do was babble some words which definitely didn’t do enough justice to what I just felt in the sky.
To be honest, I was scared as hell at some points and might have missed many good things about it. But to me what happened during the time is not really important. What’s more important is “Am I the same person few minutes before?” I am still to resolve my issues with heights (much lesser than before) but the whole experience is so empowering. I learned that I could push my limits. Most importantly, I just witnessed the immensity and earned humility. Now, the Himalaya is different to me. The Sky. The Clouds. The People. Even the ground I am treading on is different to me. Exactly as Omar said, “the mountain and sky will never be same again!” I just want to add few to his words, “You guys are also never same to me again!”
I am really indebted to Mr. Suman Pandey –President of Everest Skydive, Mr. Anuj Pandey – General Manager of Everest Skydive, Ryan Jackson – Tandem Master, Omar Alhegelan and Nadezda Solovyeva – Videographers, for making this miracle possible! At this moment, I just remember Paulo Coelho’s line “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” I wonder now, I might have secretly wanted to do skydive all my life.
(Pokhara Skydive, a premier event organized by Everest Skydive, is an annual event taking place in November – this year from 19th to 24th November. It takes place in Pame Laurukh, 11 km west of Pokhara Lakeside. Started its commercial operation in 2013, the event is increasingly being more popular among Himalayan adventure seekers with more than 200 jumpers already making their exclusive jumps with Pokhara Skydive Team.)
By: Kim Bo Larsen
Everyone got up early, as breakfast was at 05:20. We needed to get down to the airfield and start up as early as possible, as the best weather in the mountains is in the morning.
Everest Skydive Expedition Day 3
As we arrived and started getting gear ready, Osama and Yorick arrived in the helicopter. When gearing up for a normal skydive, it tastes around 5-10 mins. When gearing up for a skydive here, with oxygen equipment and warm clothes, it takes between 1 and 1,5 hours. As Osama is disabled, it makes gearing up a bit more difficult. But with great mood and energy, we did it all with a smile.
First load consisted of Osama, Aliaa, Nadia and Paul-Henry. It was the first jump for the three first. PH was load master in charge of oxygen and spot.
At approximately 09:00 the first jumps of this years Everest Skydive Expedition were done. Everyone had a great jump, and the three for whom it was their, was overwhelmed by the view and sensation of leaping from a helicopter, looking at Everest and all the other massive mountains visible from here. They all made perfect landings. Osama hereby becomes a new world record holder for highest parachute landing by a paraplegic person! We are super proud of Osama!
After packing the parachutes, which is hear work in the thin air, all were ready for another jump.
Load two also went according to plan with big smiles all over. Winds picking up with turbulence as well, and clouds moving in, we decided to call it a day at around 11. This unfortunately meant no jumps for me today. But I’ve been waiting for this for many years, so I will wait for one more.
For the first time during the expedition, we had a bit of time to ourselves. After packing down and having a small talk, I headed down to Namche by myself. I needed to buy data for my phone, and maybe a bit of chocolate found it was into my backpack too. Others went to the teahouse to rest and catch up on a bit of work with photos and video.
Tomorrow is another jump day, although Osama and Aliaa have done their jumps, Anton and I need our training jumps, and Anton has to do a tandem with Anuj from Explore Himalaya.
“The sky is the limit only for those who aren’t afraid to fly.” Leave your fear behind and visit Pokhara to live your dream of flying with the hawks. Imaginations turn into realities. Imagine electrifying sky adventures and to let these imaginations become real, visit Pokhara. A beautiful city situates 800m above sea level encircled by towering hills, 200km west of Kathmandu.
Pokhara is a picturesque town flanked with the panoramic Himalayan peaks of Annapurna, Manaslu, Dhaulagiri and Machhapuchhre, a valley containing emerald green of lakes.
Pokhara is Nepal’s second city, a tourist hub attracting thousands of visitors every year. The city is also the starting point for the Annapurna Treks, the most popular trekking route in Nepal after Everest. Local people believe the Goddess of Nature herself dwells here. It is a perfect holiday destination to recreate the body and mind.
Visit Pokhara and enjoy…
Backed up by the expert Everest Skydive Crew, the first Pokhara Skydive will take place from November 8 to November 17 of 2013. It will be held at Pame Danda dropzone, west of Phewa Lake where skydivers will leap from a height of 11000-13000ft from AS 350 B3/B2 Helicopter. With the majestic peaks as the backdrop and the valley of Pokhara sprawling below, you take the leap from the aircraft, freefalling for a few seconds, before your canopy opens and then lands gently at the drop-zone. Your entire jump will be captured on film by an Aerial photographer.
2. Ultra light Flight
Ultra light aircrafts are very light weight single or double seated aircraft used for both sport and recreation; they fly “low and slow”.
The two seater aircrafts, either in line or adjacent to the pilot is use for the ultra light Mountain Flight. The Ultra Light Mountain flights are organised by the Avia Club and provide close up and stunning views of the Fishtail and Annapurna Himal as well as the meandering rivers and the beauty of the Pokhara city. The flight provides a perspective of the Annapurna region which trekkers miss.
Glide elegantly from the take-off point at Sarangkot 1700m. Float over the naturally blessed town Pokhara, with its emerald lakes, rushing Himalayan River, lush vegetation and ancient hamlets. Gliding with the expert paragliders and also aerial cameramen, on a tandem jump witnessing the majestic Himalayas to the north is an experience of lifetime. Hundreds of enthusiastic gliders rise up to Sarngkot, during the flying sessions over Pokhara before they touch the earth at Pame.
Sliding down a 2000 feet long metal wire inclined at 56 degree, you reach the speed of 140 kilometer per hour, and this is no doubt a spine-tingling experience. The longest ziplining in the world is in Pokhara. The most thrilling ride of your life begins, at the altitude of 5400ft in Sarangkot and lasts for about a minute before it safely slows down to the drop-zone at High Ground Triangle in Hyangjha. Thrills are one aspect of the ride but the panorama of the Himalayas can be the best view of your life.
“Flying is easy in Pokhara and people here do not envy the birds rather fly with them.”
Explore Himalaya’s President Mr. Suman Pandey recently took a ‘big leap’ in Thailand. The ‘big leap’ in question was Mr. Pandey’s first tandem jump with Explore Himalaya’s partner Thai Sky Adventures in Pattaya. He says, “I made a tour all the way to Pattaya to try Skydiving, as there was no chance to try this in Nepal. Being the organizer of ESD, I am techincally kept busy during the event.”
Posted below are some of the pictures taken during the jump.
Mr. Pandey with tandem master Peter
“Trying to hide my nervousness, a friend keeps me busy…”- Suman Pandey
“More Fun, less Scary. I am freefalling!”- Suman Pandey
“Up in the air!”- Suman Pandey
“Oh God ! I am OK !”- Suman Pandey
Earn your Skydiving License in Thailand!
Earn your skydiving license in Thailand with ThaiSky Adventures. You have a choice of training methods to obtain a Skydiving License. One method is the Traditional AFF (accelerated freefall) program where your first skydive is with your own equipment and the second one combines Tandem skydiving with the AFF program. Both are designed to make you a safe and self-sufficient skydiver. These methods follow the guidelines recommended in the USPA (United States Parachute Association) Integrated Student Program (ISP).
The Integrated Student Program is used to achieve this goal by advancing you through eight categories of proficiency (A-H) to qualify you for a USPA “A” License. Advancement is based upon accomplishment of the set goals, called Targeted Learning Objectives (TLOs). Your jumps are tailored based on your own abilities and completion of these TLOs.
The DZ is Located at Sriracha (Ao Udom) and is exactly 19 Km from Pattaya just off the main Highway – Bangkok and Chon Buri (Route 3/Sukhumvit) to Pattaya.
The jumps will be made from a Pilatus Turbo Porter (with the larger PT6A-27 Engine) piloted by highly experienced jump pilots. The aircraft can carry 10 jumpers to 13,000 feet (Standard Exit Altitude).
For booking details contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
We work with the motto "Tourism for Development". Explore Himalaya Community Service Project was conceived to empower underprivileged segments of Nepal.