© 2011 notworkrelated - David Rutter & Helen Roscoe. All rights reserved. notworkrelated_nz_skydive_franz_josef_10

New Zealand – Franz Josef Skydive – 10th Dec

When we woke up the sky was clear and we could see across to the glaciers and mountains. We knew it!! Today would be our skydive day at last! So with this in our minds we were up early and went straight to Lake Matheson where there were less sand-flies trying to attack us. We enjoyed a walk around the lake and then contacted Franz Josef Skydive to see if they had a slot for us that morning. We were booked in for 11am.

We got to the skydive office before 11am, filled out some forms and signed our lives away! Note they do not take responsibility for any personal accidents/death! Eek! We opted for a photographer each with DVD footage of our dive, this would be a one in a lifetime experience and we wanted to keep a record. We felt pretty relieved when a 50+ year old couple booked on to the 15,000ft and a 60+ year old lady who booked onto a 12,000ft dive. If they could do it…Well so could we!?

After nervous chat we piled into their van and were transported to the airfield which is in between Franz Josef and Fox Glacier accompanied by a hip hop beat! When we got to the airfield we met our tandem dive instructors, it all got a little confusing at first as Helen’s instructor thought we were on the first dive and started prepping only to then find out we were on the second dive. It seemed to distress him more than us, we would be very prepared by the time we got on the flight. This did mean though that being in the second group we weren’t due to take off for another 45 minutes or so… More waiting!

After the first group went up we sat and watched the little plane going upwards and eventually we picked out a few of the parachutes opening coming down for the last part of their dive. It wasn’t long before they were all back at airfield and we could tell from their expressions that they loved it – these were the oldies aswell!

So now it was our turn, we got prepped once again; Helen was with Mark a 6ft8 giant who was like a cool uncle, whilst Dave was teamed up with Crusher, a 30-something adrenaline junky. We were paired well!

We had a brief chat with the camera-men and felt like we were being interviews for a reality TV show. All geared up we loaded onto the plane, with 7 of us boarding including the pilot. It was pretty cramped inside the small body of the plane but Mark was very calming and helpful, he did a good job at explaining everything to Helen and as they were strapped on pretty close she felt secure, along with the knowledge that he’d already done over 10,000 jumps in the last 15 years. Dave and Crusher were calm and having a good chat as the plane started to ascend. We enjoyed a fantastic flight over the Franz Josef Glacier and mountain range which took around 15-20 minutes, all the while cameras in our faces and nerves gathering more and more.

At 12,000ft a German girl was ready to go, she had a female instructor with her and they were sat in the doorway waiting for the door to open. As it did she looked terrified and uttered ‘Oh God…Oh God!’ over and over, Dave and I looked at each other and started laughing. It was a nervous laugh but her face and tone was hilarious! We were just thinking…Oh Shit! It’s us next! And then we got the 2 minute countdown, Helen was to jump first, the adrenaline was racing and we were both instructed to wear the oxygen masks. Again Helen felt calmed by the big man right behind her.

It was time to jump and the door opened, Helen and Mark were on the doors edge with the cameraman in her face sat on the wing, it was one last shot before dropping out of the plane and then they went. Dave just watched as Helen flew out of the plane below. Meanwhile Helen was already into her free-fall, looking up to find the photographer right there in front of her face. It felt really weird to start with, nothing like a roller coaster, just the fear of dropping out at 15,000ft. But when free falling it felt like we were still in time, except for the noise rattling around our heads which was the sheer force of air.

Not long after Helen was out and free falling Dave was in the air too, spinning with Crusher and trying to take it all in and enjoy the moment. We both did this to the max, and we think from our DVD footage this is pretty clear. What the hell all those hand gestures were about we don’t know, we were just trying to interact with the cameramen and enjoy it as much as we could.

After around 60 seconds of free-fall it was time for the parachutes to go up, this wasn’t quite as jerky was we thought it was going to be. Waving goodbye to the cameramen we were hoisted upwards and then we were gliding. This part of the dive was much calmer and equally as exhilarating, we had a parachute guide to the sights around us and neither of us could quite believe it was happening. We both had the chance to steer the parachute and feel the force of changing direction. And we could both see each other as we were making our way down.

Landing the dive was fun, legs up in the air and then we were on the ground. When you’re attached to the tandem instructor it all becomes so easy. After a few giddy moments we were chatting away to the camera-men once again and then having a few more photos taken. It was all over pretty fast but we absolutely loved the experience and watching the DVD over and over makes us laugh every time. We think this is something everyone should do in their lifetime! The Franz Josef Skydive team were excellent to work with, really informative and made the whole experience fun and very worth while. It was a sting to the wallets at $599 each but it was well worth it for the experience, the sights, the DVD and the dodgy facial expressions captured on the photographs.

We hope you enjoy the movies! Merry Christmas from us both!

(Leica M9, Summicron-M 50mm f2.0, 18mm f4, 90mm Tele-Elmarit f2.8 & Olympus PEN, 17mm f2.8, processed in Lightroom 3) Photographs and DVD footage of the free-fall were produced by Skydive Franz.

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