Australia. After deciding on a very short notice trip to the large island, I got on a plan from Doha and started my, almost, 17 hour journey. To date this has been my longest. Although I have read all the tips and tricks on how to pass the time on these flights, I still found myself watching at least three or four movies. And I still had seven hours to pass. From what I can remember, I slept, woke up, slept, woke up cranky and probably slept some more. By the time I got there, I was knackered.
I arrived at the hotel and the view from the room was awe inspiring. To the left was the Sydney Harbor Bridge. To the right was the famous Opera House. I can safely say, the Sydney Shangri La boasts some of the most picturesque windows in the world.
I was in love with Sydney, apart from its bipolar weather in January. Over the next few days, I climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge (more like walked up a lot of stairs), visited the Opera House, walked miles and miles having a great time just getting lost. At the famed Taronga Zoo, I fell head over heels with a baby elephant and met Felicity the Koala. And then I decided to take a three hour drive.
What beauty! It is such a peaceful, lush environment. The Blue Mountains of Australia certainly live up to their name. In the evenings, just as the sun is saying goodbye, the light cast on the trees creates an eerie blue glow. It is surreal. At night the winds pick up and sounds of ghosts fill your dreams. I saw the “Three Sisters” in all their glory after getting on a rickety cable car. Trust me, the view is well worth it!
Now on to the actual adventure! As a teenager, I had no problems getting on the fastest roller coaster or plummeting to Earth in “Drop Zone”. Not so much now. Maybe as you get older, you get wiser… Maybe. I decided I was going to skydive for the very first time. I was unusually calm as I signed up and was actually looking forward to it. Looking back now, and judging from my experience skydiving after, I think it was the jet lag that kept me so calm! I was half asleep!
As we climbed to 13000,00 feet, I was so happy. As a pilot, one of my favorite things to do is look outside. Well, here I was about to get one of the best views of my life. I was attached to my tandem instructor and for a fleeting second, I thought “Holy hell, what if this gets loose,” but then was on my merry way out the door. We sat at the door for a couple of seconds and I had a huge smile on my face. I could see the horizon and the clouds. Oh my, it was just spectacular!
I remember the sound of the air rushing over me as we jumped out. The 50 seconds or so of free fall was over way too soon and as he pulled the handle to get our parachute open, I remember looking up, seeing it there and thinking, “Thank God!”
The way down was absolutely amazing. I later went on to do an Accelerated Free Fall (AFF) course where you learn to skydive by yourself. But I have to say, the tandem jump was my most enjoyable. Only because I did not have to worry about anything. I had someone else to deal with all the drills and “what if”s all the way down to Earth. I remember pointing out trees and other skydivers to my instructor, for fear of hitting them–the pilot in me would have it no other way–but we made it safely down and I was elated.
My other experiences skydiving were quite different. When I realized I would have to jump out of an airplane backwards by myself, my poor mind was unable to comprehend. But I put my big girl pants on and did it. It is quite a feeling though, to have jumped out of an airplane and landed on the Earth by yourself. When I jumped out, I had one or two instructors with me. As soon as the parachute is pulled you are on your own though. My last experience sealed the deal for me, I hesitated before jumping and basically tumbled out the door. Maybe if I had been sleepy, it would have been different.
At the end of the day, I tried something, realized it was not for me but had a great time and met some lovely people. I was even able to use the Crown Prince of Dubai’s wind tunnel and meeting him in the process. I now only go to the Drop Zone to take pictures of my fiance as he lands and I am happy to do just that!