Skydiving from an MI-8 Helicopter is a unique and amazing experience which you must try at least once in a lifetime. You will be able to experience the feeling of weightlessness for the first 2-3 seconds of the jump, doing a certain type of exits that you cannot do from other aircraft.
Just for common knowledge the MI-8 Helicopter is a Russian twin-turbine aircraft, very common in the military. Certain Dropzones managed to convert this aircraft for Fun Jumpers, but some companies make it available as a rental for Boogies.
© Photo Karura Sports, MI-8 Helicopter taking-off at Skydive Balaton – Hungary.
Just to see from the ground this aircraft taking off and landing is quite impressive, however, being inside this aircraft is a totally different experience. Depending on the setup of the DZ, most of the time the large rear clamshell doors of the aircraft are removed, letting you fly with an open “door”, which is an amazing view if your pilot decides to give an exciting takeoff.
“Like Skydiving this cannot be described in words and the sensations cannot be understood unless if you try it yourself!”
Jumping from an MI-8
Now, regarding the jump, the load’s orders are straightforward. Starting with the belly flyers, first the big ways followed by the smaller groups and then the solos. Next, the same logic comes the free flyers, first the big groups followed by the smaller groups and the solos. Then, you have the solo students or high opening jumpers (1200 meters/400 feet or above), AFFs, Tandems, Tracking jumpers, and finally the Wingsuits.
Yes, that’s quite a lot of people, depending on the Dropzone, but the MI-8 can fit up to 30-32 Skydivers, which is the reason that the load and jumping order are very important for making sure to keep everybody safe.
In general, you sit on a folding bench, or the floor and secure yourself with a security belt. One of the things you want to pay attention to is not leaving anything wandering around in the aircraft. Because the back door is always open, so light, wandering objects simply get sucked out of the aircraft. Someone once actually left his goggles and gloves on the ground to adjust his helmet, but as they started to fly and they got flushed out the aircraft.
© Photo Karura Sports.
Once you reached the Jumping altitude most of the jumpers would be already standing and waiting for the lights to signal the jump. People who want to do Heli Hanging would start to climb to the rope and hang themselves in the air while the other jumpers are getting ready.
© Photo Karura Sports.
The funny part of jumping from a Helicopter is that there is almost no forward speed. So, when you are jumping you feel totally weightlessness for the first 2-3 seconds. It feels like your body has lost its mass, you have a kind of funny feeling in all your body parts and cells until you catch up with the freefall speed and you finally get the wind to work against.
For my part I love to use this 2-3 seconds to do some flips, but some have fun diving out feet first or many other ways. Some do group exits, like a group of 8-10 jumpers holding each other and just tilt out of the aircraft.
So, if you ever have the chance to go Skydiving from an MI-8 Helicopter don’t miss out!