Skydive in Thailand

Background: This was totally not on my list. I never knew that dropzone existed. I had booked for a paragliding course in February at Bir, Himachal Pradesh and the course was to start in last week of April. But due to accident cases in Bir, plan was on and off at times and in second week of April, Rahul came with a plan to skydive at Thailand in May. I wanted to go but I was not that keen on going there because of two reasons, first I had already booked for a paragliding course and second I was hoping that Russia is going to open borders and I’ll go to Russia to complete my license and further progression. But both of the plans were in dicey situation and I didn’t know what to do. Finally I took a call and canceled my paragliding plan and booked my tickets to Thailand

DayActivityJumpTotal Jumps
11 Check dive for license A. Failed. Landed in water- A near death experience.11
21 Check dive for license A. Passed. License A
1 Solo Jump
1 Two-way Jump
31 Hop and pop 5500
1 Hop and pop 3500
2 Two-way Jump
41 Two-way Jump
Water Training course
53 Hop and pop (Canopy course)
1 Two-way Jump
1 Three-way Jump
62 Hop and pop (Canopy course complete)
1 Two-way Jump
1 Three-way Jump
72 Hop and pop
1 Three-way Jump
81 Hop and pop
1 Four-way Jump
91 Hop and pop
1 Four-way Jump. License B
101 Four-way Jump
1 Four-way Jump
Total Skydive jumps till this trip = 25 (Russia)+27(Thailand) = 52

My Journey

Day 1: Landed in Thailand and reached Dropzone: Rahul, Karan, and Ajmal and I started our journey from Bangalore and reached thailand. At the airport we hired a car and reached the villa where we were to stay with 5 more people (Pankaj, Ajay, Rath, Anamika, and Guru). We were the first one to reach so we took the best rooms out of the 6 rooms available. Rahul and I stayed on ground floor and rest people have to stay on first floor. After settling in the villa we went for a drive and we reached dropzone, it was closed but we just wanted to take a look at the route and the dropzone itself. On the way back to villa we purchased groceries and some fruits for the day.

In the evening the rest of the people started arriving. Ajay, Rath, Pankaj arrived in the evening and by that time we already had lunch and were taking some rest. As they came we now went to the pool for fun and I didn’t know how to swim but I felt comfortable in water so I asked Rahul and Ajmal to give me some swimming lessons and by the end of the day I know how to move my body in water. Ajay and Rath were ex-airforce veterans and had good experience in skydiving, they went out to purchase some groceries and Ajmal and Rahul spent time cooking dinner with remaining ingredients. Pankaj brought some homemade food with him and we enjoyed it thoroughly.

Day 2: Re currency jump failed and landed in water: We woke up early and got ready to go to the dropzone and since we had only one car and 9 people, we had to take two turns to drop all people at the dropzone. I, Rahul, Ajmal, and Pankaj were in the first drop and we reached the dropzone at 8. After going with all the documentation, formalities and covid test we were ready. Chief Instructor Adam was a nice guy and he took the details of our jumps, our level and the duration since our last jump. I, Rahul, Karan, Ajmal had a break of almost 1 year and Pankaj had a break of 6 months, Guru had abrek of 4 months in skydiving. So he suggested we go for a full refresher course and Pankaj and Guru were sent for a short refresher course.

We did the course and while the course was just about to end, Adam came and asked the instructor if I am doing okay and my concepts are clear. He nodded with a yes and Adam asked me to go for emergency procedures class with Michael. Why me? Because out of this group I had 25 jumps and the rest were to clear AFF first.  Michael asked me some typical questions and briefed me for the procedures once again. He briefed me for the jump and about the landing pattern and holding area. After double checking everything we were ready for the jump.

Now I was going through the same feeling again. It’s been almost one year since I jumped out of a plane and I was nervous about remembering things or not. We took off and were the first ones to jump out of the plane after the hop and pop guys. As soon as I jumped I started feeling comfortable, I got stable in 8 seconds and I did 90 degree right, somewhat more than 90 to left then I did a flip and a barrel roll. Till here everything was great. I did everything slowly and took time. We departed at 6000 and tracked in the opposite direction and pulled at 4500 feet. It was an amazing feeling and I think I did everything right. But the best is yet to come.

I thought that landing was my favorite part and I cannot make any mistakes in that. I was wrong. The calculations and the height went all wrong. The point where I had to be at 600 feet, I was there at 750 feet. Where I was supposed to be at 400, I was there at 550 and where I was supposed to be at 200 I was there at 400. And now I was panicking. On the last turn I understood that I am not going to land in the landing area so I took the longer route and in the middle I realized that I am still not going to make it. I flew above the landing area, crossed the next field, crossed the tree line and then I couldn’t make out if tis ground or water. I was going ahead and didn’t know what to do. What I thought to be a ground surface, it actually was a water body with all the moss on the top. I splashed into it and didn’t know what to do. I don’t remember what I did and how I did but after some time I was coming out of the water to the shore. I was hearing the voices, “Shubham are you okay”, “Shubham are you there” and I was in shock. I gathered myself and collected the parachute and I shouted, “Yes I am okay”. I started walking after collecting the parachute and as soon there were two people to rescue me and help me. I was brought back to the dropzone in a vehicle.

I saw that the whole dropzone was outside the door looking at me if I was okay. The staff came to me and looked for any visible injury and asked me if I was okay. I went straight to the changing room, took a bath and came back. Chief Instructor Adam came to me and asked me what happened and I explained everything and what steps I took and what was in my mind. He didn’t say a word, he said I’ll leave you with Michael as he is the instructor and he is going to tell you things in brief. Soon Michael came in and we discussed the jump.

I understood all the technical I missed in the landing pattern and the crucial points which I should have kept in mind. Actually, in Russia the landing area was about 1km*km and still there was empty area where one can land but here the landing area was only 200*200metres and there are trees and water on every side. There is no scope of error. Either you’ll end up in water or trees or runway.

I cam e back got refreshed and now everybody at the dropzone know me by name. I am the guy who is making history at landing.

Day 3: Re-currency jump, solo jump and first two-way jump: I got up in the morning and now one more member was with us, Anamika, she was daughter of Ajay. We left for dropzone in the morning and I again got the briefing about the jump. Michael told me that I needed to focus on landing because rest of the thigs seems fine. Now I was confident about the free fall but a bit worried about the landing. I did everything great as apart of free fall and pulled at right altitude. Now I was concerned about the landing pattern but this time I went with a passive approach that I’ll go as slow as possible and approach with care. Now I was at correct place at where I should be at 600 feet and the same for 400 and 200 feet. I landed on feet and perfectly well.

Michael debriefed me about the jump and said I did the routine well but I did things a bit fast and I should have been a bit slow. My landing pattern was good and I am through the re currency jump and I am clear for jumps now. I asked that should I now apply for A license and he said he will give the test in the evening.

Solo Jump: I decided to do a solo jump to gain more confidence for free fall and landing. I did it and it was good and now I was confident that I can go ahead for the jumps.

Two-way jump: Now I paired up with Guru and we discussed that should be wo ahead with two way linked exit. He agreed and now we went to Michael to discuss that what should we be doing in this jump. We got all the input and decided that lets test the instructions. We both were nervous as this was our first linked jump. I asked him that he should be outside the plane at the time of jump because he is heavier and I’ll be inside. We decided that after the jump we are going to hold each other till we get stable and then we are going to leave each other and then again hold each other. That was the plan. Now we were at the doo and he was hanging outside, I held him from both shoulders and OUT-IN-OUT and we left the plane. Now were rotating like windmill. We took one rotation, and then another and then another. We looked at each other and we smiled and we checked our altitude and we were still holding each other and now we were in another round of turning and then another and then another and then we looked at each other and nodded that it’s time to leave each other. As soon as we left each other he was in one corner of sky and I was in another. Now we pushed to get close and we were moving close but none of has any idea about th relative speed and we didn’t know how fast we were moving Just like two jets we passed each other at a very fast speed, we were lucky that we were at different heights else it would have been a serious collision. But how could we learn until we face the situation. We did amazing landing and we came back and discussed what should have been done in order to improve this.

In the evening, Kong came to me and Pankaj and said that there was some problem with your license application and I was in shock and by the time I could react, a cake came and smashed in my face and so on to Pankaj as well. I understood that he was bluffing and this is the celebration for our license completion. It was an amazing night. Everybody was cheering for us and partying with us. IT was a memorable night. We came back and spent our time in the pool and had dinner later on.

Day 4: Two hop and pop and two2-way lined jumps: I reached dropzone with my friends and I came with a plan that I should be starting my canopy course for License B progression. And there are all hop and pop jumps in that course but it’s been one year I have done hop and pop jump so I wanted to have some confidence before taking the course. Also, I have to do a water training course in order to get license B. I discussed with Michael and Adam and Michael said that he will be taking the theory class today in the evening.

I was now confident for the jumps so I did Two hop and pop jumps one from 5.5k feet and another at 3.5k feet. Many people asked me why I was doing the hop and pop from 3.5k, what’s the benefit etc. I said that I just want to do it to gain confidence and it seems odd to them. But I still went ahead with it.

After that now another requirement for B license is 10 linked exits and out of those at least 5 should be 3-way or more. So, I partnered up with Pankaj for two way linked exit jumps. Pankaj also started the jumps with us but he was 5 jumps ahead of me as he had some jumps in Dubai after Krutitcy in Russia. He was there in Krutitcy with me but he started skydiving when I was about to leave from Russia. He also needed the same jumps so with this we both would get benefit to reach license B.

In our jump we made the same plan and went ahead with that. As soon as we got off the plane we start rotating. With Guru I was rotating like windmill but this time we were rotating like helicopter fan. We tried hard to get stable but the harder we tried the faster we rotated. Finally, we let each other go and tried to get back together but our weight difference was too much and our experience was also less to get back to same lever but couldn’t. We departed and did our landing.

In another jump with Pankaj, when we were about to jump, he said this time he wanted to be inside the plane and I should be outside. I knew it was wrong as the heavier person should be outside but when then plane door is open that is not the point to argue or correct. I went outside and we jumped off the plane. The result was same, we were rotating but this time we were more balanced and rotating very slowly. After letting each other got we adjusted our level but couldn’t touch each other again. It was a good learning and improvement.

The day well utilized. I did 4 jumps and reached the count of 33. Everyday I used to plan and calculate that what all things are pending and hoe many days are remaining and how am I going to reach the target.

Day 5 : one Two way jump, water training course) : It was raining since morning. We reached the dropzone in the afternoon but after that it was hold due to Royal family movement and we just spent time at the dropzone. I did one two way linked exit with Pankaj and after that Michael came to me and said since it’s a bad weather day why don’t we go for water training and complete that and I agreed. Pankaj, Guru, Anamika and me left the dropzone for water training course.

Adam and Shah were there to explain it to us and how to do it, I did it. Removed the RSL, loosen the chest strap and loosen the leg straps and get ready to land in water. Hold as much as breath I can and apply the flares, as soon as one touches the water, he is supposed to dive into the water till the legs are free from leg straps and then move away from canopy and come back to surface. I displayed all skills in one go but then I wanted to do it one more time and passed the test with flying colors. So did Anamika, Pankaj and Guru. Pankaj and Guru faced a bit of hesitation while jumping into water but after 3 attempts they were cleared.

I was happy that one more task is completed and now I have to focus on canopy course and jumps.

Day 6 :Three hop and pop canopy course, one two way and one three way: Today I asked Michael if I could reduce my canopy to 190 as I was using 230 for all these jumps. He said that it is better do a canopy course and then he will make a suggestion to downsize or not. I did Three hop and pop jumps as a part of the canopy course and I did all landings on my feet. It was an amazing feeling.

I also did a two way jump with Ajay and one three-way jump with Pankaj and Ajay. Three-way jump was as good as two way jump. We were rotating in a three-way jump but then I saw Ajay using his legs to counter it and I learned another thing. I didn’t know how it’ll work but I knew that there was something with the legs I am going to try in the next jump.

Today I got my A license by email and I was happy to see it. Now I am a professional skydiver.

Day 7 :Two hop and pop jumps, one two way and one three-way jumps: I completed the remaining two jumps of the canopy piloting course and one more requirement was completed from the B license requirement list. Later I did one two way and one three-way jump and finished the day with four jumps. Till now I completed six two way jumps and two three way jumps so the only things remaining were three 3-way jumps and I got to reach a total of 50 jumps. I was already at 43.

Day 8 : One three way and two hop and pop jumps: I reached out to Michael and asked if I could downsize to 190 and he said that I should be making these decisions on my own and I am good to go. I took 190 rig and went to Adam to set its mode to student and he said you are already A licensed and your landings are good you need not fly in student mode. I was happy that finally I am coming out of student mode and a bit scared as well because now I should be analyzing myself and my skills and depending on that I should be taking calls on my own. Obviously, others will help but now I am a responsible skydiver and I have to act responsibly.

 I started the day with a three way jump. This time my partners were Ajay and Anamika. As soon as we jumped from the plane, we started rotating and we lost Ajay bit I and Anamika held onto each other. Though our weight difference was too much, we were comfortable. Ajay tried to reach us but he was heavier as compared to us and he couldn’t. Then we let each other go and landed safely. Then Anamika got busy with her canopy piloting course and I was left with no partner. So I decided that I’ll also do hop and pop jump as they are cheaper and I have to reach the jump count of 50 as well.

The day ended with a total of 46 and still two three-way jumps remaining for me to get a B license.

Day 8: One hop and pop and one four way:I can’t ever forget this day. The weather was bad. Bad means really bad. The jump limit was put to two hundred initially and none of us were allowed. I spoke to Adam about the jump and he said that this is nothing about you but the weather. The wind is so high that once you leave the landing area you won’t be able to come back. Just wait but the speed of the wind didn’t reduce. I spoke with Michael and he said the same thing but he said we’ll take a chance and let’s see. Adam very briefly told us to do the jump, where we have to be under the parachute and what all things to be careful about.

I did the first jump and the wind was so high that even the 190 was shaking and not moving ahead when I was facing the wind. I used all my mind and physics in order to be in the landing area. Never moved. Suddenly there were clouds and I was blank. I couldn’t see anything, I started shouting and at the same time I brought myself to half flares into the wind so that I won’t collide with anyone, I won’t leave the landing area. Slowly the clouds went away and I was able to see clearly. I did a perfect landing and told Michael that my landing was good. He said what you did was amazing but do not forget that wind helped you in landing a lot so do not overestimate your abilities, it will keep you safe.

After that I did one 4-way linked exit and followed the routine while doing the landing pattern.

Day 10: one hop and pop and one 4-way jump: Again the weather was the same and I was hoping to complete one jump at least. Now I was only two jumps away from reaching 50 and out of which one jump needed to be a three-way jump. I started the day with a hop and pop and then I started finding people for a group jump and I did it with Ajay Anamika and Pankaj. Pankaj already did license B but he was there to help me reach B license. I did them and in the evening, I appeared for a test and got all other things verified from Adam and Michael and applied for my license and I got the license in a few hours.

My task here, for which I have come here was completed and I was all happy and discussing with Rahul and suddenly a cake arrived and smashed in my face. It was a License B celebration from the dropzone. They never miss a chance to celebrate anybody’s achievement. It was an amazing feeling. Randall also completed his instructor ratings and the same was done to him. We were bathed in cake.

Day 11: one 7 way jump and one 4-way jump: I was not sure if I was going to jump today because my license was completed but then I thought that if I have come here then I’ll do some jumps today. Also, Guru was left with two three way jumps from license B and I thought why not be with him as he had helped me a number of times in my jumps and encouraged me to do jumps. My 52nd jump was his 50th jump for license and we did that together and it was amazing. I was feeling as if I was getting the license again.

That evening I along with Guru shared the money and gave a party to the whole dropzone. We ordered food and beer for everybody and we ate and laughed along with the whole dropzone. It was afternoon but the weather was bad so the dropzone called it a day and we enjoyed the remaining time.