What a way to spend your Belgrade weekend!
We’ve been away for a while but here’s a blog from one of our team to help us get our feet back on the ground (there’s no excuse for a pun like that, sorry).
I’ve always kind of wanted to try a skydive but it’s one of those things you just don’t get round to organising. Still, I was determined that I’d do it this summer. I started asking around to find out if there’s a skydiving centre near Belgrade. I wanted a really professional centre because I wanted to do a tandem jump – that’s where the instructor is strapped to you but you get to do a freefall without going through weeks of training to do a solo jump.
As soon as I started asking around, several people mentioned SkyDive Serbia, which is a good recommendation in itself, so I called them. An experienced instructor, Ivan, met me in one of our favourite Belgrade bars, Drvo Javorovo, and over coffee told me all about SkyDive Serbia and his personal skydiving experience. He explained that every instructor at SkyDive has to have at least 1,000 tandem jumps, that they are all certified by the parachute manufacturers and that they are licensed by the Serbian aviation authorities. That put my fears of doing my first skydive with some cowboy outfit to rest. So I agreed and we both ordered a beer to celebrate!
That weekend I drove out to Lisičji Jarak air field, some 20km from the centre of Belgrade. It was a perfect summer’s day, a hot sun in the sky and not a breeze in sight. I have to say, I didn’t feel nervous or excited. Just calm. Perhaps that’s the feeling of knowing you’re in safe hands. The crew at the airfield are young and positive, always smiling and sending out good vibrations.
Ivan delivered a short but intense course on all the safety equipment and explained each step of what was about to happen and suddenly, we were in the little Cesna and climbing to 3,000 metres.
The ride up lasts about 20-25 minutes and you’re treated to sublime views of the Danube, Vojvodina and the skyline of Belgrade in the distance. It’s almost worth going just to catch those views.
Before I knew it, however, Ivan was saying, “let’s roll” and opening the door. The shot of cold air mixed with the adrenaline which comes on suddenly. Different people react in different ways to the adrenaline – my reaction is, it seems, to smile constantly. Without much further ado, we were out the door!
The initial sensation is of being on the craziest roller-coaster you can imagine! Suddenly you’re falling at 180 kilometres per hour! The free fall is carefully controlled by the instructor but if you’re experiencing it for the first time like I was, it brings on round after round of euphoria, adrenaline, (if I’m honest) a bit of motion sickness and adrenaline again.
Now the crazy thing is, even as you plummet towards the earth, you have time to think. Though most of what you think is either, “wow, the view’s amazing from up here” or, “hang on, I’m FLYING!”
The view is amazing though. So amazing you simply don’t know where to look. And who would have thought that the world looks so much more beautiful when you’re hurtling towards it at terminal velocity? But it does. It really does.
After what seems like an age, Ivan tapped me on the shoulder (the signal that he’s going to pull the parachute cord) and we were swept up in a stomach churning motion. But once your insides settle down, you suddenly feel completely at peace. Like a bird riding the thermals without a flick of its wings.
As we descended elegantly to earth, heading for the airfield, we could see a plane coming in to land. What a strange and unique experience, watching a plane landing while you’re hanging silently above it. Ivan probably felt like he couldn’t have organised it better himself!
Back on the ground, emotions still disorganised swirling around inside me, Ivan asked how it was. In that state, all I could say was, “unforgettable”.
I can’t thank SkyDive Serbia enough for this unbelievable experience. And if you’re thinking of spending one of your Belgrade weekends this way, look no further than SkyDive Serbia.
Address: Lisicji Jarak Airfield (see map)
Phone: +381 (0)11 227 14 57
Mobile: + 381 (0)63 567 001