I Can’t Fly, But I know how to Fall with Style

July 13th, 2007

Ocassionally, just once in a while, I get fed up with sitting in front of my computer, studying, or heading to the gym.

At times like that (when I’ve done some consultancy and have cash in my pocket) I head out to my local skydiving DZ (Ripcord Skydivers at Gatton, Australia) and kick back, soothe the soul, relax and jump out of perfectly good airplanes.

In my current hiatus (took some time off trying to consider whether PhD is really where I want to be for next three years, and attempting to get involved with something I’m really passionate about), I’ve indulged myself and gone for a few more jumps.

The following vid is from about 5kms up – three jumps in total (not all in the one flight) – all of them are me, aka theDuck – (perhaps better known as theEmu – flightless bird from Oz), but the last one is my favorite – I’m doing a move called ‘the funky chicken’.

Basically, ‘the funky chicken’ involves climbing out the strut, squatting on the step and asking the pilot to go to full power (you’ll see me nodding and thinking ‘cmon, is that all you’ve got’) until you can’t hold on any more, then let yourself be blown off the airplane. At that point you squeeze yourself into a little ball and watch the world.. then the plane.. then the world.. then the little plane.. then the world.. then the little dot of a plane.. spinning, spinning, spinning..

It’s a form of nirvana – like floating in the ocean, but there are no sharks, no sting rays to spear you through the heart, no coral to cut your feet on, very little chance of running out of air and if you get caught in a rip you’ve always got a second option. Generally you can sit there spinning, without any sensation of falling, for about 50 seconds before you need to snap out of it and reach for the little metal handle, otherwise your cypress cuts in and all of a sudden you’ve just wasted 5 jumps worth of cash and given yourself a broken collarbone 🙂

Probably the freakiest jump I’ve ever done was out of a helicopter – since the helicopter is static, and most of the downwards thrust is at the end of the rotor, you jump into ‘dead air’ – there is no forward speed (and hence wind velocity) to ‘cushion’ you, and you end up scrambling like a cat in a swimming pool trying to get yourself stable until about 10 secs into the jump when you reach terminal velocity and start to feel weightless. The 9 seconds up until that particular moment are sheer adrenaline, and unfortunately it is against the rules to listen to your ipod to take your mind off what ‘might’ happen if the (airborne) venomous spider catches you.

Here’s the vid of my latest jump..


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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Karthik R  |  July 14th, 2007 at 12:01 am

    Hey mate,

    Nice to see you got this far. I still remember we were pissing at least a dozen times before getting onto the aircraft for the first jump.


  • 2. theDuck  |  July 14th, 2007 at 12:15 am

    Everyone, Kart is one of my best friends – I spoke about how I met him here

    I hadn’t been for a jump in a few years when he visited me last year, and asked me to take him out to ripcord. I agreed and that’s all now history.. good to see you dropping by mate.

    After jumping out of the plane Kart decided to start a flying school in India, and so far we’ve sent one plane over there, expecting a lot more shortly.

    Asia (including India) has a huge deficit of pilots and a massively growing demand – I think he’s picked a winner there.


  • 3. SusieJ  |  July 27th, 2007 at 1:26 am

    I jumped once. Tandem. I know all about that nirvana high. But I will admit — I was scared to death — and I was kicking and screaming out the airplane door. But I was already hooked up and away we went.
    Thanks for the “re-experience” on the video.

  • 4. Joni  |  August 10th, 2007 at 9:54 am

    My adrenaline flows just swinging high on a kids swing set. Glad you overcame your fears, but I dont’ think I ever could do that.

    Matthew, do you have a video about how to make a video? I would love to watch it.

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