Vitor Benassi, an instructor for Skydive Dubai, talks about surviving a job that takes him 13,000 feet in the air while strapped to everyone from business execs to retired seniors.
I wake up, go to the gym. Jumping, especially as an instructor, requires taking on a lot of weight. A parachute weighs 25kg. The person I'm taking could go up to 100kg. You put that weight over 10 jumps a day and it doesn't take a lot of knowledge to know it's good to be in good condition.
My day starts in the office, which is on the south side of the Palm Jumeirah, between Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residence.
Students check in, make the payment, sign some liability papers. When they've never jumped here, we do a little briefing: show them an aerial picture and places to land, and show them how the drop zone works.
I already have my equipment on. I'm going to put the equipment on the passenger, adjust everything. We go to the aeroplane, which is a short ride from our office.
The first load will go, all the way up to 13,000 feet. When you get to the door it's where you'll be the most nervous and I'll say: "You'll really have to trust me. I have been jumping for nearly 10 years, with almost 4,000 jumps. Let me do this and I promise after 5 seconds you're really going to love it."
We jump out.
For a tandem jump, it takes 50 seconds in free fall and 5 to 7 minutes flying the parachute until landing. The view here, with the Palm islands and the beach, is one of the prettiest places you can ever jump. Depending on the visibility, we can see the Palm, Burj Al Arab and sometimes the Burj Khalifa. Some people are really afraid of heights and want to conquer their fear. We also have people proposing in the aeroplane. I jumped with one 70-year-old woman who said: "I always wanted to do this all my life. I guess now's the time." For the regular fun jumpers, it's definitely a way to let the stress go away.
Usually we land on the grass. But if I have some problems, I can land on the gravel or the beach. Once we land, we'll take some pictures. Then I'm going to meet my next student and start everything again. On a busy Friday or Saturday, I'd do 10 jumps a day. If it's during the week, I'll do maybe 5 jumps. Or, maybe it's windy and I won't jump at all.
At the end of the day, I can get with the staff and do a fun jump. The sunset is the prettiest time you can jump.
Go home, or sometimes I make a quick stop at a wind tunnel. It's like a free-fall simulator. You can fly in that, go upside down, practise a lot of things.