x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

A good time to leap from a plane

The thrill skydiving over Dubai could be yours for as little as Dh1,700, or you could just enjoy the sensation of a free fall in relative safety at the Abu Dhabi Country Club's SpaceWalk wind tunnel.

As the UAE settles into winter, it's peak season for dining on patios, sprawling on the beach or teeing off at the local golf course. But if you look up at the sky near Jumeirah Beach Road (JBR), you might catch another activity in full swing.

"What makes skydiving unique here is you usually have to drive away from the city for several hours because drop zones are in rural areas," says Omar Alhegelah, the manager at Skydive Dubai, located at the southern base of the Palm Jumeirah.

"Here we have a drop zone in the middle of the city. We are so close to JBR and the whole skyline. Nobody has ever jumped recreationally under these circumstances."

Skydive Dubai - the only drop zone in the GCC - attracts daredevils from around the region and offers programmes for both experienced and first-time jumpers.

If you're ready to conquer your fear, Jeffrey Todd gets the jump on three skydiving options.

Tandem jump

The briefing The act of actually leaping out of a plane at nearly 4,000 metres is perhaps the most difficult part of skydiving.Fortunately, in the tandem jump, an instructor can do that for you. Strapped securely to your back, the certified professional will walk you through the procedure. It's recommended that you arrive about 30 minutes before flight time.

The fall Once airborne, you and the instructor will be in free fall for almost one full minute.

The Palm Jumeirah is clearly visible, and nearby, a skydiving videographer documents every second of the experience. When the parachute finally opens, both you and the instructor can guide the parachute towards the final drop zone.

The landing As you float towards solid ground, another videographer is waiting to capture your reaction.

Each jumper receives two DVDs - one is a video of your skydive, set to music, and the second is a CD with 30 to 40 pictures. The tandem skydive might be expensive, but it's a convenient way to experience a thrilling free fall.

All you have to do is enjoy the view.

Dh1,700

SpaceWalk

The briefing Located at the Abu Dhabi Country Club, SpaceWalk is an indoor skydiving facility that creates the sensation of a free fall without having to jump out of a plane.

An "Intro Flight Ticket" includes a training session during which an instructor teaches you basic hand signals and techniques.

The fall Although you're not tumbling from the sky, this experience is by no means for the faint of heart. In a flight chamber with a combined total of 875 horsepower, the thick column of wind rages at a staggering 195kph. Even with an instructor flapping at your side, it takes a great deal of practice to maintain body control during your two one-minute flights.

The landing Skydiving isn't for all of us, but if you'd like to try the next best thing, SpaceWalk is an excellent choice.

In fact, braving the wind tunnel is an easy and cost-effective way to find out if skydiving is right for you. This facility also offers more advanced programmes and packages for families and private parties.

Dh180