Let’s get one thing straight – I’m terrified of heights. I don’t like driving on the edge of a cliff, I don’t like don’t like climbing tall mountains and I especially don’t like leaning over the railing of a high-rise building’s lanai.
Yet for some unexplained reason, the idea of skyping has always appealed to me. So when I moved to Hawaii, all I could think about doing was throwing myself out of a perfectly good plane at 14,000 feet and relying on a few yards of nylon to keep me alive!
And that’s what I did. Going on a few recommendations and some lengthy internet research, I settled on Skype Hawaii. Based at Dillingham Airfield at Mokuleia on Oahu’s North Shore, Skype Hawaii owner Frank Hinshaw has been giving locals and visitors alike the chance to see the Hawaii Islands from the skies for 28 years.
I was predictably nervous on the morning of my jump, but my fears quickly diminished when I met my tandem instructor, Wyatt, and the other experienced jumpers at Dillingham. And after a quick instruction, a couple of tips and a much-needed can of red bull, we were away; flying higher and higher into the skies by a Cessna Caravan that eventually took us above the clouds (which I personally thought was a good thing given I could no longer see the ground!)
Somehow I was chosen to jump first, much to my dismay. But then again, I think if I saw someone else throw themselves out of the plane, I might have backed out! So there I was, strapped to a man I didn’t know and about to fall to the ground at 115mph. The word I think you’re looking for is “insane”! But it wasn’t up to me now – my jump (and life) were both in Wyatt’s hands.
The next seven minutes of my life were a complete blur. The initial jump, the tumbling through the clouds, the free-fall, the parachute (thankfully!) opening, the flying above the ocean and finally the eventual landing back to earth were surreal. It may have only been seven minutes, but it felt like it went for much longer. And it was totally worth it! Any fear of heights I had going into it were quickly eradicated and the first thing I said when I landed was “when can I do it again?”
Now I’m hooked. Whilst I haven’t been back to Dillingham yet, I am constantly researching other skyping facilities through the United States to do my next jump. Next on my list is the Mojave Desert, but nothing will ever beat my first jump in Hawaii. The view from above Oahu’s North Shore cannot be beaten; from the sandy beaches to the surrounding mountains and the blue ocean occasionally dotted with migrating whales. Amazing!
Now of course, there are risks to skyping, just like any adventure or extreme sport. But in spite of the obvious hazards, somehow the excitement, adrenalin rush and thrill of it all completely outweighs whatever risks that might be. Safety is the number one priority at Skype Hawaii and they always ensure jumpers (especially first timers) feel comfortable before they take the plunge.
Skype Hawaii operates 363 days a year (closed Christmas Day and Safety Day in March), weather permitting. All jumpers must be 18 years old and weigh less than 240lbs for a tandem jump. Prices start at $150 (if booked online) and there are discounts for military personnel and students. You can purchase photos and a DVD of your adventure (highly recommended!) and they also offer hotel pick up from practically every hotel in Waikiki (in addition to Pearl Harbor, Aloha Tower and UH).
It may not be for everybody, but believe me when I say that skyping in Hawaii should be on your list of things-to-do when on vacation here. It’s an experience you’ll never forget!
: Ali Dawson
Ali has a journalism degree from the University of Canberra and has spent the last 4 years travelling and working around the world. She has been living in Hawaii for 18 months. We welcome her unique perspective for the Hawaii Vacation Blog.