The Static Line Method in Macedonia is that for the First 10 jumps you get a static line, which is basically a rope that is attached to the plane on one side and the closing pin of your chute on the other.

Once you jump off it automatically opens your parachute.

This way your body can deal with the enormous amounts of adrenaline, while you get used to the new experience…

What lead me towards Skydiving

When people find out I Skydive, one common question that follows is: “Aren’t you afraid?

The truth is, everyone feels fear. But if the desire to do something is greater than fear, you’ll probably achieve your goal in the end.

That was exactly my experience with Skydiving. When I go back to the first days of my Skydiving school in Aero Club Skopje – Macedonia, just sitting down trying to visualize my clumsy self-getting out of a moving plane, my heart would race and my palms would sweat.

Thinking about it felt really bad and super awesome at the same time.

© Photo by Behdad Esfahbod from Toronto, Canada (Flickr).

The Static Line Method in Macedonia is that for the First 10 jumps you get a static line, which is basically a rope that is attached to the plane on one side and the closing pin of your chute on the other.“. 

My first adrenaline rush – La Roller Coaster

I first felt the rush of adrenaline at the age of 13, on a roller coaster, in the amusement park Asterix near Paris.

To be quite honest, Asterix wasn’t as big or as marketed as Disneyland, but it was helluva fun. Once I saw the roller coaster and heard the blood-curdling screams, I knew I had to give it a go.

It looked scary and fun.

Lucky for me, I was tall enough to reach over the designated line, so they let me in.

Funny thing I remember as I write this: Since I was a part of a summer school for kids visiting from Paris one of the teachers had to come along. Oh, Boy was she terrified!

In a matter of moments, I was too.

As we spun around I felt I was losing control of my own feelings like never before. This new feeling of losing control started overpowering me for a second, but then I found a way to deal with it.

Seeing how tense I started becoming I decided to just relax my body and let go. I let the feeling go through me, I wasn’t holding onto it anymore.

This is when the real fun started as I released a huge scream, followed by another, and another. After that experience, I felt incredible about adrenaline-fueled activities, and I never wanted to go back.

The Skydiving school

Being part of a skydiving school is amazing. The truth is, after a while my class just wanted the theory part to be over with sooner rather than later, so we can get on with the actual air activities.

It was fun though, we studied all the elements of the parachute, the canopy watched many videos and did lots of repetition exercises on the ground.

We also needed to learn how to pack our own parachutes. It is so difficult to wrap your head around it when you first see how big the canopy is, and how small the bag is.

I remember thinking, “No way that could work.

But it did, and we learned how to do it because we wanted to Skydive so damn bad.

The Static line method in Macedonia

This is the deal we got offered to become Skydivers:

  1. The First 10 jumps you get a static line, which is basically a rope that is attached to the plane on one side and the closing pin of your chute on the other.
    Once you jump off it automatically opens your parachute.
    This way your body can deal with the enormous amounts of adrenaline, while you get used to the new experience.
  2. After those jumps, you start free falling and opening your own chute at safe 800-600 meters.
  3. 40 jumps more and you’re eligible for a skydiving license exam.
    The exam consisted of three parts: a question and answer test, being able to freefall into a stable position, and getting close enough to a certain dot in the landing zone.

Being able to learn new things about Skydiving, how it all works and learn how to deal with fear as a part of a group was a priceless experience.

Repeating the steps you’ll take in the air over and over again on the ground is extremely necessary.

This is how you build muscle memory, so even if your brain is not performing at its best up there, you’ll still be able to go through your routine moves.

We practiced getting out of a Cessna 182, our only skydiving plane at that moment, and a pretty decent one. The only problem, it was kind of small, it only fit 5 people counting the pilot.

Our routine consisted of deciding which leg you’ll use getting out of the plane, what moves you’ll make and repeating those steps over and over again.

The instructor was also trying to prepare us for the windy conditions we’ll face.

After you step out of the plane, as a new Skydiver you shouldn’t have too much time for hesitation.

It is all a planned 1, 2 3 step program that keeps you safe in that new environment.

You really need many jumps (some more, some less, it’s completely individual) before you can actually relax, be yourself and enjoy the view from up there.

In my case the biggest obstacle in my way was myself.

Before my first jump I often had anxiety that I won’t be able to do it, but even after that, I had days where I felt I don’t believe in myself enough to continue doing it.

What I realized is, Skydiving for me is an ongoing struggle that made me understand more about myself, who I really am and what I’m made of.

Aside from being helpful, any internal struggle is worth it if it makes you feel so perfectly free.

Because that’s what skydiving is for me, diving into freedom away from the entire world and myself.

© Photo by Cal Harding. Static-line Parachutes ready for action at the Durban Skydive Centre.

Be prepared for the small things

It was actually funny to me on the day of my first jump how incredibly difficult ordinary actions can become once you’re up in the air.

I remember clearly the orange sky.

The sun was still coming up as we were ascending through the air.

My instructor yelled at me that we’re currently at 1700 feet and asked me how much is that in meters. Even though I love math, I couldn’t for the life of me do calculations at that moment. It was comical.

Another thing that threw me out of balance was how much the small plane was shaking.

I’ve only flown on big commercial jets in the past, so feeling the turbulence so closely this time made me completely insecure.

I decided to occupy my mind with the task at hand. Getting safely out of the airplane and releasing myself into the big blue.

Entering the dream

No matter how hard you exercise on the ground, nothing can prepare you for the excitement that engulfs the space around you once the airplane door is opened and the wind starts pouring in. The wind is cold and unforgiving, but you do not feel it a bit.

The only thing you feel is the desire to move forward.

In my case, there were 2 instructors and another student on the plane. The plan was for us to jump on the static line and the instructors would jump afterward. I was lighter in weight so I had to go second.

The Skydiver that went first, Goran, was sitting by the open door for a while waiting for the instructor to find the perfect spot for us to be dropped off. Right there I could see it in his eyes, he felt amazed and humbled by the view.

He also looked crazy focused and ready to go.

I envied his readiness at that moment.

So after the instructor gives you a sign you’re supposed to:

  1. Get out with your preferred leg, and position it on a ledge outside of the airplane, just below the wing.
  2. Grab onto another ledge with your hand.
  3. Place your second foot outside
  4. Grab with the other hand
  5. Look left towards the instructor and wait until he gives you a nod to jump off
  6. Look up, release with your arms spread, legs slightly bent and arch in your back.
  7. After your static line deploys the Shute you spin it in the air and do all kinds of checks to make sure everything is ok.
  8. Proceed to steps for safe landing

So after Goran jumped out I was looking to see his pink student parachute, but I couldn’t.

It really bothered me I couldn’t see it, but that fear lasted only for a few seconds. Seeing that pink canopy flying proudly through the air meant the world to me at that moment.

I knew everything will be all right.

My turn came, I looked outside of the airplane, loving the view yet again, and proceeded to perform the pre-planned exercise.

I realized I have closed my eyes for a second once the chute was loudly opened in the air and a huge smile washed over my face.

I did it!

OK, I need to focus, look up and see if everything’s in place, pull the handles.

But I did it!

It was completely difficult to gather my thoughts at this point. Also crazy not to be able to scream at least a woo-hoo on my way down.

I knew a lot of the older skydivers would be there that day, and I might be laughed at, but I also wanted to have my own moment, so I did it anyway.

Here’s to life and overcoming fears.

Static line jumps

© Video by learningtoskydive

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