Kelsey and Wes Jones recently did tandem skydives and wrote a kickass blog piece on their webpage http://www.jonesnfortheroad.com/. We think it perfectly encapsulates the Skydive Franz experience and were thrilled they allowed us to share their blog. So without further ado please see below for their experience:
Caution: These pictures will make you want to jump out of a plane!
We have always wanted to sky dive. For one reason or another it just never happened.
We decided we would make it happen in New Zealand. Rich in beauty and adventure, New Zealand is the place to go if you want constant thrills! We quickly learned that you can basically skydive in almost every town in NZ, but we were holding out for Franz Josef.
Franz Josef is a picturesque, small town famous for its massive glacier. Dipped in snow capped mountains, Franz Josef is a wonderland vibrant with adventure. There are countless hikes, glacier climbing tours, helicopter adventures, and of course their famous sky dive.
Along with being the second most beautiful jump in the world, Skydive Franz offers the highest tandem skydive in the southern hemisphere at 19,000 feet. They also offer jumps from 13,000 feet and 16,000 feet. We booked the 19,000 feet of course. Go big or go home right? We booked a 6 PM jump giving us plenty of time to do a nearby hike beforehand. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and a 12 mile hike was just the thing to work off some of our nerves.
We came back from the hike super exhausted and slightly nervous. After an amazing dinner and some liquid courage, it was time. We checked in to Skydive Franz Josef and were quickly informed that it was too windy to jump. We were put on hold for 30 minutes to see if the wind would subside. So we went back to the near by restaurant and had a couple more glasses of liquid courage. We ended up repeating this process 3 times before they cleared us to jump. Needless to say by the this time we had no fear.
We were driven to a large airplane hanger where we were greeted with a laid back atmosphere. The crew were listening to music and methodically folding and packing the parachutes. It was 7:30 when we finally got suited up and ready. We were in a race for daylight. The crew quickly and professionally wrapped us up in super fashionable red striped jump suits complete with a bald cap and harnesses. They threw us some gloves and we headed to the plane while our designated guys went over some basic safety information with us.
The whole situation was calm and collected. The air of ease the crew had about all of it made you feel completely secure.
“Man, how many jumps have you done today?”, Wes asked his jumping partner.
“I’ve already jumped 11 times today. You will be my 12th“, he replied after a quick calculation in his head. The easy confidence dripped off of him making you feel better about trusting this guy with your life.
It was clear that we were in good hands. We crammed into the tiny plane with our jumping partners and another couple and started flying. At this point I was more excited than nervous. As we gained altitude the view became insane. Our race for daylight ended up perfectly timed.
The never ending stretch of the Tasman Sea was on our right, while to our left was the most amazing view of Franz Josef Glacier, Fox Glacier and Mount Cook. This view would have been beautiful in the middle of the day but for us it was sprinkled with the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen. The sun setting over the ocean illuminated the water as the waves hit the golden shore. Orange and pink rays painted the snow caped mountains giving it an almost glowing vibrancy.
All of this was a wonderful distraction to the fact that we were are about to be pushed out of a plane.
We were brought back to reality quick enough when we reached 13,000 ft. It was time for the couple next to us to jump. The plane door opened and the first jumpers made their way to the edge. Sitting on the edge of the door, they rolled out of the plane. The wind instantly grabbed them and pulled them sideways, parallel with the plane. And that is when I peed a little. And we still had another 6,000 ft to climb before we jumped.
After a bit more personal distraction with that amazing sunset and the pep from the oxygen they gave us, it was time. (Yeah you heard it right, they give you oxygen on the way up. My guy said it was to keep us awake while we jump.) Wes went first. They wiggled and scooted their way to the edge and with a swoosh they were gone. At this point my heart is pounding. The excitement and nerves tangle together inside of you. We awkwardly scooted our way to the door. I am strapped to my jumper as he sits on the edge with me freely hanging out of the plane. I tuck my feet under the plane and roll my head back and we are out.
We do a flip out of the plane and then level out for our 75+ second free fall. OMGOMGOMG! We are falling. The icy wind hits my face like little needle points. The wind loudly rushes by us, cradling us at the same time. The view was breathtaking. I was falling from the sky attached to a random but professional guy, and it was incredible. And just like that, the fear was gone and my addiction with adrenaline began.
After what seemed like forever the chute was pulled and we were softly caught by the wind. Once I quickly made sure Wes’s parachute had opened, I was able to enjoy the view. We floated down while taking in the amazing sunset. Both of us in awe of the incredible scenery. My instructor told me that this was his first time jumping at sunset as well.
As we neared the ground he talked me through the landing process which involved lifting my legs as high as I could. After that strenuous 12 mile hike, lifting my legs was a bit challenging. We both raised our legs and slid onto the grass on our rears as the parachute floated down around us. We glided to the ground just as dusk set in. It was surprisingly gentle.
Wes was there waiting on me. Both of us had giant smiles plastered to our faces. It was the most extraordinarily crazy thing we have done in our lives so far. Now we just have to figure out how to top it.
Would you jump out of a perfectly good airplane?