Flirting with danger

Risky adventure

Flirting with danger

The recent skydiving accident, in which the parachute failed to open leading to the fatal fall of the young woman, has surely sent chills down many an adventurist’s spine

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In 2009, when a young adventure-lover’s harness snapped during bungee jumping in Bangalore and cost him his life, many questions were raised on the safety procedures of adventure sports in India. This accident has done the same.

An employee of TCS, Vaibhav experienced the thrill of skydiving in San Diego, USA. “Accidents happen in the US too. There was a case in which the camera person came to a diver’s rescue! Though it may sound scary, at least they are able to deal with emergencies,” he recalls. “But there, they allow you to jump alone only after a rigorous training. Even though I’m an adventure lover, I would never advise anyone to jump alone in the first few dives,” he suggests.

Nickhilesh, a technical service specialist, has bungee jumped in New Zealand and done a week-long training in skydiving.

“There, they never let you dive alone unless you are a certified diver, for which you have to do a minimum number of jumps. If your first parachute malfunctions, there is always a reserve one and if you are not experienced enough, you tend to freeze as you are not used to the height or speed.

 That’s why you need to go with an experienced skydiver,” he adds. He affirms that he would never skydive in India! “It’s extremely shameful on part of the organisers. But even the Indian mentality is to be blamed. Here, people are impatient so there is no time for the organisers to be more cautious,” he laments. 

However, Anand, an entrepreneur who skydived in Mysore, found it pretty safe as the organisers were strict and had experienced instructors. There are three kinds of jumps as Anand explains — static line jump, tandem jump and accelerated free fall (AFF).
“While the first one is a 4,000-ft jump in which a cord attached to your backpack automatically pulls out the parachute, the second one is a jump from 10,000 feet in which you have an instructor along. In the third one, you jump alone from a height of 10,000 feet,” he informs.

“To do the AFF, which the victim had done, one needs to do two static line jumps. Only after that, you are allowed to jump alone and even then, you have two instructors jumping along to assist you. Only after six to eight jumps like these can one be allowed to jump alone. This is the American standard and is generally followed the world over,” he notes.

Santosh Kumar, owner of Fever Pitch Holidays, which conducts a number of adventure activities, says that there are approximately 10-12 certified instructors in Bangalore. Santosh has organised skydiving in Mysore along with a skydiving association. “The participants are given a day’s training at the end of which, we assess if they are strong enough to jump,” he informs. “But I only take bookings. I’m not authorised to conduct the session myself,” he adds. Saddened by the accident, he says, “I felt enough manpower was not there. There is a lack of trainers with that type of skill or experience.”

Dr Renuka Paul, a psychologist, feels not everyone is meant to experience an adrenaline rush of this magnitude. “Due to societal pressure, sometimes we are not able to gauge what we should or shouldn’t do. As we grow older, we learn to say no. But youngsters, especially in this age of social networking, are competitive and want to experience everything that their friends experience.

If it’s their first anniversary, they want to announce it to the world and do the most spectacular thing to get everyone’s attention. But they must understand that though curiosity is a part of our nature, each one of us is different,” she sums up.

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