Freedom, calmness, excitement, and vertiginous height – this is the combination of feelings you might experience when you are falling through the air and flying with no wings in skydiving.
Skydiving is one of the world’s most popular extreme sports, combining the adrenaline rush of flying at great altitudes with breathtaking views of the world below. While free-falling from the sky may appear frightening at first, it is a safe and enjoyable activity for adventurers of all ages. It is the kind of excitement that many people have been looking forward to, and today it is available at the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.
“I felt that this is just my kind of thing as I have been seeking adventures since my childhood. I have always loved participating in dynamic games, and whenever I watched skydiving videos, I always wished to have the experience one day,” said Mahmoud Al-Said, a 35-year-old TV and radio presenter describing his first experience of skydiving at Sharm El-Sheikh.
“I was lucky enough to be invited to skydive in Sharm El-Sheikh as the first TV presenter to do so as part of the World Youth Forum events. The experience was truly great because you can experience the mesmerising view of the sea and mountains as you fall, and then there is being part of a multinational group of people attending the World Youth Forum. These things gave the experience a unique touch,” Al-Said said.
“Those five seconds you wait by the plane door before you jump are particularly memorable. I think they are the most thrilling part.”
“There are certain physical requirements you need before signing on for skydiving, but they are not that great –just making sure that you do not suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, or shortness of breath and that your weight is not over 100 kg. There are no skills you need more than just following instructions such as regulating your breathing and so on. Just wear the right clothes and stick to the rules,” he said.
Skydiving may appear frightening at first, but conquering your fear is the most important step towards completing your first skydiving adventure. For most first-timers, skydiving is easy once they have overcome their fears.
“Being at an altitude of 20,000 feet looking at everything down below as if you own the entire world is an amazing experience. The first 30 to 40 seconds after you jump give you a mix of indescribable feelings – you feel scared, excited, happy, and definitely unable to understand what’s going on. But by the end of the day, if I’m asked to repeat the experience, I will say yes without thinking. I would also like to try skydiving at the Pyramids in Giza. I’m sure the view would be just as great,” Al-Said said.
“I recommend skydiving to everybody. I’m really proud as an Egyptian to finally find this experience available in Egypt, either for tourism or for those looking for adventure.”
Skydiving is a traditional extreme sport as it dates back to the end of the 18th century when the first parachute leap was made in 1797. The basic concept is to free-fall from an aircraft or a mountain, fly unsupported for 30 to 180 seconds, and then gradually float in the air until you land safely with a parachute. The sport has progressed tremendously in terms of technology and has now become a global attraction.
“It was on my bucket list of things to do. I was over the moon when I found out it was available in Sharm El-Sheikh during my visit there for the Youth Forum. It was a double joy because Sharm El-Sheikh has also always had a special place in my heart,” said Dana Medhat, also a TV anchor.
“Maybe I have a different perspective regarding skydiving as a TV anchor,” she added. “We are under stress all the time no matter how experienced we are. Being on air is always stressful. That’s why I needed this activity as relief.”
Safety should always come first with skydiving, but though it may appear dangerous, it is actually one of the safest extreme sports in the world, with far fewer fatalities than car accidents, for example.
“It’s totally safe provided that you follow instructions. You will be firmly attached to an experienced instructor while skydiving, and he or she will be doing the majority of the work. No prior experience is required,” Medhat said.
“There is also more than one parachute and other professional skydivers around in addition to the attached instructor and a spare parachute. There are advanced sensors to avoid any problems that may occur with the parachute opening. You are surrounded by a highly professional and skilled crew. They don’t let you inside the plane unless you memorise all the instructions. All you need is to be calm and confident that you really want to skydive,” she added.
“Sharm El-Sheikh is also one of the most beautiful places in the world for skydiving. There is only a minimal charge, and you will have an unforgettable experience. The fee is LE7,500, and booking can be done via a website or Facebook page. The view is entrancing, just looking at the sun’s rays and how they reflect off the sea and at the contrast between the green of the land and the sand. All this left me speechless and in awe at the beauty of my country,” Medhat said.
Dalia Abu Emeira, also a TV anchor and a Youth Forum participant, said skydiving was a challenge but one that she had consciously taken.
“The most fear anybody could have might involve throwing himself out of a plane. It’s an adventure that we are likely only rarely to experience. That’s why I wanted to do it, because when we face something we fear, fear stops having a meaning for us,” she said.
“However, this was not my only motive. I also wanted to feel like a bird, to stop feeling the weight of my body. It was a moment when time stopped. I will absolutely do it again,” she added, saying that “it was also on my birthday, and I felt so lucky to be able to celebrate it in the air.”
The skydiving crew had made her feel at ease, she said, and had guided her through the whole experience.
“They reassured me about how perfect it would be. Everything was focused on the moment when I had to jump out of the plane, when the time between opening the plane door and jumping seemed to last forever.”
“The view is magical, much better than what you see from a plane window. It’s totally different and much clearer. Sharm El-Sheikh is certainly the right destination for such an activity,” Abu Emeira said, adding that “those six minutes were the best moments in my life.”
“If you have the chance to do skydiving, don’t skip it. Life is short, and it’s important that we experience as much as we can,” she concluded.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 17 February, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.