Whenever the topic of skydiving comes up in conversation, I can’t help but marvel at what it takes to compel someone to jump out of an airplane cruising so many thousands of feet in the air that great cities are reduced to geometric patterns, cars to specks, and forests to dark green smears on the Earth’s surface. What does it take? The only answers my brain could come up with were (a) nerves of steel, (b) an addiction to adrenalin, or (c) a serious lack of impulse control. For me, it’d take a strong sedative and a boot in my behind.
A roaring business in Cape Town
With a brief Internet search, however, it’s clear that what was previously considered the pastime of serious adrenalin junkies has become a widely available, accessible, and affordable adventure for just about anyone. In Cape Town alone, never mind the greater South Africa, there are a bevvy of skydiving schools, centres, and companies offering this extreme adventure to those on a quest to put their mettle (and choice of laundry detergent) to the test.
For R2,850 per person, Skydive Cape Town offers introductory, tandem skydives in a location that is as close to the Mother City as any of the local companies gets, affording thrill seekers unbeatable views of the Cape.
Mother City Skydiving does sports (for the experienced – price varies) and tandem skydive drops (for the inexperienced – R2,850 pp.) less than an hour from Cape Town, about 14 km north of Malmesbury, which immediately brings to mind incredible farmland vistas.
If it’s your dream to take to the skies without a human parachute strapped to your back, Tandem Skydiving offers training and certification courses, as well as tandem skydives (R2,650 pp.) for the inexperienced. They also have several drop sites around Cape Town, including Robertson, which means that afterwards you can head into the winelands and get sloshed on good wine. I know I’d need a glass or three after throwing myself out of a moving aircraft.
It’s clear that these companies – and others like them – have sparkly safety records, resoundingly positive reputations, and thousands, if not tens of thousands, of successful jumps under their belt. And yet, the question remains…
What does it take?
Why would anyone want to defy every fibre, every nerve of their survival instinct and leap into the void at 12,000 feet? The answer, I suppose, is to be reminded of our strength and our ability to overcome fear. In more cliché terms: to take that leap of faith into the unknown. This is not even to mention the exhilaration of the experience itself. The wind ripping through your clothing and rippling the skin on your cheeks as you hit terminal velocity; a visual perspective on Earth that is utterly uncompromised; to really feel like a bird and not just be like one, as Nelly Furtado sang.
After all, what is skydiving but the fulfilment of humankind’s greatest dream to fly?