In our last moments, we might think of things we could have done — dreams, mistakes, opportunities. Most people have an answer to “Have you ever?” and most have an excuse for “Why?” Recently, I stumbled upon an interesting adventure that is in my bucket list — skydiving.
This is my experience in skydiving in Zambales.
About Skydiving in Zambales
Skydiving is a form of extreme adventure and it is done in a handful of places here in the Philippines.
The skydive in Zambales is done in a small airport. You can get there directly or you can join a packaged tour event, which includes round-trip transportation.
This event which I joined in 2015 was organized by FlyXtreme Adventure Club in connection with Skydive Zambales, which organizes the skydiving activity in the province. Skydive Zambales consists of military, army, and police officers who have a USPA (United States Parachute Association) license for skydiving. They are trained for this and they give instructions during the orientation. Skydivers – even rookies – are in good hands.
The plane used for the solo skydive is a tora-tora-like plane. It fits only four people: the pilot, two skydivers, and a divemaster. If the skydiver fails to jump the first time and wants to have a second try, there will be an additional fee. There is only a limited time for jumping at a certain spot and if the plane goes around again there will be additional gas consumption.
There are 2 options for skydive: solo and tandem. Solo skydiving involves doing a radio-assisted solo jump. Tandem skydiving is more common, and it includes jumping with a divemaster who is the one in control. Solo skydive is cheaper, but the tandem skydiver is considerably safer and the fall height of the fall is higher. The jump in tandem skydive is 10,000 feet, while in solo skydive it is 3,500-4000 feet.
Both solo and tandem skydive are open to first-timers.
Skydiving is one of the more expensive adventure activities. The cost for skydiving ranges from P18,000 to P20,000. The event fee for this one was slightly cheaper because it includes solo skydive, not tandem. I paid a total of P13,500 which is done in installments.
Be sure you’re really ready and remember what you paid for — it’s not refundable.
Orientation Do’s and Don’ts
During the orientation, the number one thing that’s promoted is safety.
Listening is key because the instructors discuss important matters on the jump. It will be radio assisted and what we would be doing is an instructor-assisted deployment (IAD) for the solo jump.
Here is the general scenario:
In solo jump, the divemaster is the one who pulls the pilot chute, which is a small parachute used to deploy the main parachute of the skydiver. After the skydiver has jumped, the divemaster follows in a separate chute.
As the solo skydiver, you need to know how to operate the chute, such has how to use the ripcord or cutaway handle and toggle for steering the parachute in a certain direction. We were taught a chant that goes “Grab right, grab left, pull right, pull left.” Right is where the cutaway handle is (used for opening the reserve chute) and left is where the ripcord is (used for opening the main chute).
You also need to know what to do in certain situations. In situations such as fainting midair, getting head hit while descending, or the first chute failing to open, you should remember where the cutaway handle and ripcord is. Using the ripcord opens the reserve chute or second chute. This chute also automatically opens at 1000 feet.
Another thing to note is that the use of action camera is allowed, but it should be strapped on the feet. It’s strictly prohibited to strap it in the wrist because jumpers tend to divert their attention to taking selfies rather than listening to the radio. There were incidents wherein the skydivers didn’t listen and ended up landing in the sea or hitting a fence. Nothing fatal but worth noting.
The divemaster also has his own camera to capture the skydiver’s jump.
After the orientation, there is a dry run of jumping. Guests need to practice correct hand and feet coordination for holding and letting go from the plane, maneuvering of the parachute as it descends, and proper landing. If proper landing is not done, it can cause wounds or scratches to the skydiver.
My solo skydive in Zambales
I joined this event sometime in 2015. Our organizer picked us up from Manila and we drove to Iba, Zambales.
I was initially worried about the weather since it was already ber-months. Our organizer informed that in case of disagreeable weather, the event would be canceled and the plane would not be allowed to fly. There was a bit of rain the day before the event. We arrived early in Iba, and there was no trace of clouds. It was a pleasant day for skydiving.
Before the activity itself, we had to undergo proper orientation and practice by Skydive Zambales. After that and much anticipation, the activity started.
The first skydivers in our team landed okay, although the American who jumped first had some minor wounds because he pulled full break on his chute for almost 30 feet, hitting him a bit hard on his landing. There are safety officers in the area ready to give medical attention whenever something like this happens.
I was on the third flight. I tried to silently remember all the important things discussed in the orientation.
Once it’s your turn, you have to position on the side of the plane and hold onto it. Instead of looking down, look at the divemaster. When the divemaster says “Go!” or signals that it’s time to jump, you jump. Do so with your head held high and your body into an arc and count until your chute is fully bloomed or opened then boom! You’re on your way down, enjoying a beautiful view.
I was very nervous, not to mention the fact that the height of the plane was dizzying. When the divemaster told me to go, I thought, “It’s now or never.” I jumped.
On the way down, I promptly listened to the commands on the radio. I was instructed how to steer the chute (e.g., when to turn right or left). I was also instructed on the use of the toggle: raising it stabilizes the movement, pulling it to chest level is used to half-break, and pulling it to the waist level is used to full-break which is done during landing.
I appreciated the bird’s eye view from where I was while listening to the radio. My main thought was about landing safely. When the chute stabilized its movement, I was relieved. I followed the rest of the instructions via radio assist.
Typically, during landing, the radio instructor will tell you to full break. Some tips for safe landing include covering your face and sticking your legs together then doing a tuck and roll on the ground.
When I was close to landing, the radio instructor told me raise my hands. I was actually waiting for an instruction for a full break, but perhaps a different instruction was given since I was landing in a grassy area.
I had a hard fall, but I didn’t get any scratches – just sandy pants. It’s over! I survived! And it all happened before lunch time.
Here are other photos of the skydive event.
After the skydiving activity, we waited for a while so the rest of the event joiners can do paragliding in the afternoon. There was a guest who backed out in skydiving and instead went to do paragliding.
On our way home, we stopped at a fast food restaurant in Subic and the tour operator gave us certificates of our skydive. We were told that certificate can be used so that our next skydive would just cost P3,500.
All in all it’s a fun experience, although perhaps it’s better to go straight to Skydive Zambales in Iba Airport for the skydive rather than join a packaged tour event. I got home past midnight. Sir Anthony was my divemaster that day and it’s an experience filled with words of encouragement before the jump.
Watch our heart-pumping skydiving experience in Zambales here:
Aside from Zambales, there are few select places in the Philippines where you can skydive, including Vigan and Cebu.
Rates for skydiving in Zambales
Here are the recent rates for Skydive Zambales (updated as of 2015):
- Solo skydive: P13,500
- Tandem skydive: P17,000
Kuya Raymond of Skydive Zambales recommends doing a tandem skydive instead of solo. According to him, it is safer and more enjoyable.
Tips for first-time skydivers
Here are some important tips for first-timers:
- Be mentally prepared. It’s normal to feel scared if it’s your first time, but during the jump you might be amazed to know that you’re fine and like most people you’ll find skydiving enjoyable.
- Make sure that you are physically fit. If you have recently undergone an operation, it’s not a good idea to do a skydive since it might cause stitches to open up.
- Dress appropriately. Obviously, you don’t want to show up wearing a skirt or other types of clothing that’s likely to get tangled. It’s best to wear a snug-fitting top, shorts or pants that are reasonably stretchy, and shoes.
- Eat normally before the activity. Don’t overeat and don’t show up in an empty stomach either. Just eat reasonably before the activity.
- Make sure to document it. Skydiving organizers offer video coverage, but you might also want to bring your own action camera for extra shots.
For inquiries, contact Facebook – Skydive Zambales.
Have you tried skydiving yet? Let us know in the comment section below!
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Hali Navarro is a freelance 2D and 3D animator. He likes backpacking and adventure activities like cliff jumping. He claims to have a personal army of ants.