Two days ago I jumped out of a plane and plunged 13,000ft through the air over The Palm Jumeirah with a man attached to my back.
Now back on solid ground, my heart-rate has finally returned to a normal level but the memories of the adrenaline-fuelled fall have certainly not dissipated.
Most people who partake in such pursuits are fans of extreme sports but I am most definitely not – as proved by bungee jump two years ago that left my face green. Yes, actually green.
The decision to throw myself out of a plane was made after drawing up a bucket list of ‘must-do’ Dubai experiences. Having spent most mornings before work slurping coffee and seeing the early morning jumpers drift gracefully past my 46th-floor living room, the seed was planted and I wanted to see what the fuss was about.
The jump was actually purchased a little while ago but a lengthy back injury meant it was put on on the back-burner, so to speak. After getting back in shape (couldn’t resist), the jump was postponed on a further two occasions due to high winds. Talk about building the anticipation.
It felt a little bit like the universe was trying to send a message, and an actual message on WhatsApp from a friend on the day of the final jump suggested as much – simply reading: “You’re trying again? You brave man”.
The staff at Skydive Dubai have an infectiously positive outlook and on the morning of the jump that helped quell the pre-jump butterflies. Well, a little bit. After a quick safety briefing I found myself strapped to the instructor and crammed into the tiny propeller plane alongside four-other ashen-faced expats.
Approximately 15 minutes into our ascent came the signal to put my goggles on, camerawoman Anouk offering an enthusiastic high-five ahead of show time.
We shuffled towards the open door and the suddenly the realisation kicked in. It felt like someone was actually gripping my stomach. It was bungee-gate all over again.
However that is where the similarities ended. After rocking out of the plane, the initial drop lasts around a minute, where the thrill of free falling surpassed any notions of taking in the view.
The parachute is deployed at approximately 5,000 ft, with the rushing sound of wind replaced by an eerie silence. This sees the experience take an unexpectedly tranquil turn as we gently floated above the Palm, swooping around in circles and enjoying the breathtaking scenery below.
The high winds ensured that there was no cloud coverage to obstruct the view of the Palm and Marina skyscrapers, with the vista stretching north to the Burj Khalifa and beyond.
My Spanish ‘co-pilot’ Dannio instructed me to “take the reigns, bro, have a steer” so I did, and felt surprisingly safe.
As we swooped ever lower towards the landing pad, Dannio told me we were going for a ‘soft landing’ (I dread to think what a ‘hard landing’ entails) and we gently skidded along the floor for a couple of metres before stopping.
It may sound ridiculous but jumping out of a plane proved to be an entirely relaxing experience. After the thrill of the freefall, the dead silence that follows is a rare and wonderful thing in Dubai, away from the roaring engines of airplanes or supercars.
Once back on solid ground, the feelings of euphoria take over, with the memories of the amazing views certain to last a lifetime. A trip up the Burj Khalifa is pretty special but there is no question that a Skydive Dubai jump is the very best vantage point from which to see the city.