ravings, rantings and ramblings
I made up my mind to para-glide when in Switzerland. It took a promotional video for me to take that decision. How difficult can running off a cliff be? So, I decided to test my mettle.
I get a little uneasy when an aircraft bumps through air pockets. Situation gets worse when I can see the overhead bins shake like in an earthquake! The flight to Switzerland from Dubai was an uneventful one save the landing at Doha. The Qatar Airways pilot braked so hard that we were all pitched forward! Maybe he wanted to use the loo, real bad!
Let’s fast forward to Interlaken where the jump was going to be. The first batch of para-gliders trooped off in a mini-bus, briefed as we ascended a green mountain. We signed off our lives to human error! I briefly thought about my 9-month old and then brushed it all aside.
We chug via hairpin bends and arrive at our jumping base camp, some 800 metres from where we were. That is the height of the tallest building on earth – almost a kilometre in height! And to think that some deliriously brave ones would jump off that height, relying only on a piece of colourful plastic! Crazy!!!
While my pilot David readied the sail, and was pairing the bonsai-but-powerful GoPro camera, I was watching my colleagues float away like giant moths. Suddenly, I decided to empty myself; not take the risk of wanting to pee mid-air. David apologised for no lavatories nearby and asked me to do it ‘au naturale’! Hey, that comes easy to us Indians! So, there I was, peeing away to a Swiss coniferous tree, while watching sunny Interlaken and the shiny snow-laden peak of Jungfrau! What a start!
Right, then the harness came on. Followed by a helmet. Valuables locked away in a zipper pouch! and then I recorded my first piece-to-camera. Left a message for my son and how much he inspires me! That over, David strapped himself up and explained the last few steps to take off!
It went like this:
Start running. Don’t stop.
When the ground runs out, we fly.
What? The grounds will run out! Am jumping off a cliff!!!
Of course, I didn’t say that to David, sweet soul that he is!
Our first try was messed up because of cross winds tossing our chute! While that was being set right, I could see the cliff edge sloping off sheer southwards. I wasn’t feeling a thing. Comfortably numb!
On David’s orders, we started to run again. In 5 steps, the ground ran out; I felt a strong tug at my harness; David shouting “keep running” and am answering him in my head, “Keep running? How? The ground beneath me just ran out!”
And those were my 3 seconds of fear!
Like a giant eagle, we took flight! All the strings were taut with the cold air filling out the para-sail! I sat back on my harness and realised that we were air-borne! Ooh, what a heavenly feeling! Myriad hues of blue and green filling my eyes; cold air beating my cheeks and nose and I see ALL of Interlaken beneath my booted feet!
I felt more secure than in an air plane. The air lifted us further up and David took us higher and higher. Any higher, and I’d probably say hello to the Old Man with a white beard!
The Swiss Highlands turreted the winds beautifully. I could see the shiny peaks of Eiger and Jungfrau and even its glacial fields.
We hovered around our jumping spot. Camp site looked like a Lego building block and the trees like toothpicks. David estimated our height to be at 1400 metres off-ground! In Dubai terms, I was flying one-and-half times of the Burj Khalifa!!! Unreal!
The rest of the time I soaked in the astounding hues of blue waters of Lakes Thun and Breinz and the silvery glimmer of the sun rays. The varying degrees of green added to the scenery along with the eye-stinging silvery-white of the snow-capped peaks! It was there that ‘beautiful’ seemed a bland word.
I spent the rest of my flying time looking at the city and its near-abouts, breathing in the crisp, cold air and thanking God for this moment! Nothing, absolutely nothing compares to it!
Here’s how it looked:
An average jump costs CHF 170 upwards with video-graphing. For more, contact Skywings on: +41 (0)79 266 8228 or mail them on firstname.lastname@example.org. Get more on their site: http://www.skywings.ch/