Written by Mark Antkowski
“Awesome… times 1,000” – this is how I would describe my first time tandem skydiving in Cookstown, Ontario. Rather than do something boring on my 35th birthday, I decided I would treat myself to a different experience. Myself and a few friends headed to Skydive Toronto located less than an hour north of Toronto in Cookstown, where I experienced my very first tandem skydive.
And now, I’m hooked.
Skydiving in Cookstown: My Experience
We arrived at 11:00 a.m. expecting to jump about one or two hours after our arrival. Unfortunately, due to windy weather, we had to wait until 6:15 p.m. to be cleared to take-off. The initial anxiety and apprehensiveness had long worn off, and I just was happy that I could jump on that day.
Boarding the plane, I was not especially nervous, having gone through instructional videos and guidance from my instructor.
On the plane, I was looking at my altimeter as it slowly increased in altitude. At 12,500 feet, I was instructed to get on my knees so that I could be strapped to my instructor. This was a very uncomfortable experience as much of the weight of my instructor and myself was put on my knees on the hard airplane floor.
As the birthday boy, I was first to jump and with my instructor strapped behind me, we inched up to the door that was open to the few others taking part in the flight. Once at the door, we rocked back and forth a few times and took the plunge.
I took on the position I was instructed to do and gave a thumbs up to the camera man. I found it difficult to breath and then remembered that I should close my mouth and breath through my nose. I spun around with my instructor in a 360 degree fashion, and before I knew it, I was told to reach for the ripcord. It seemed way to early, since the ground did not feel as if it had moved at all. I waited a second or two and pulled the chute, and felt a slow and gradual tug upwards as the canopy inflated.
This is where the second stage of excitement began, having slowed down, the noise of the rushing air stopped and I could hear things again. My instructor told me “I am going to make things more comfortable and reached down to my straps and loosened them a bit which made me VERY nervous. I thought that he was going to release me from the harness! I descended a bit from him, but was still securely attached and could appreciate the beautiful views.
He let me control the canopy, doing very fast turns to the left which made me a bit nauseous. He asked me if I wanted to do another turn – I reluctantly agreed, figuring I should get my money’s worth. While the freefall just moments before had felt like it was very short (even though it had been about 50 seconds long), the canopy ride felt like it took forever.
When I finally landed, I was extremely elated, feeling a sense of accomplishment and victory. “Awesome… times a thousand” – what I said following my first jump is probably an understatement. The truth is, that this experience was in a class of its own, incomparable to anything else I had ever experienced.
Would I do it again? I asked myself that question just after the jump, when I was still shaken up from the experience. Now, after reflecting on it, the answer is a resounding yes!
3065 4th Line
Canada ON L0L 1L0