I'm free falling with the Skyhawks

·2 min read

There’s an age-old question that nags at you when you’re standing on edge of a lowered ramp at the back of the huge Hercules aircraft with only air between you and the ground 12,000 feet below.

So why exactly would you jump out of a perfectly good airplane... twice?

On Tuesday, for the second time in five years I was buckled, strapped and stapled to a very competent member of the Canadian Armed Forces Skyhawks parachute team, Master Cpl. Marc Dumaine, for my leap of faith.

As we stepped out into the sunny abyss of the Okanagan Valley above the Penticton Regional Airport, the first thing we did, naturally, was flip over backwards.

Then, if that wasn’t terrifying, sorry, exciting enough, you get to experience free falling at speeds over 100 miles per hour for what seemed like an eternity (really only a few seconds) with intermittent views of the Channel Parkway, Penticton Regional Airport, Skaha and Okanagan Lakes.

Then, with a quick pull of the ripcord the large Maple Leaf canopy opens up above you and you’re pulled back up into the sky to begin a gentle decent to terra firma.

The Skyhawks again this year gave a dozen (lucky) folks an opportunity to do a tandem jump leading up to their 5 p.m. show this afternoon.

They will display their daring skills over Okanagan Lake Park, just before the Snowbirds as part of the schedule for first day of the 75th annual Penticton Peach Festival.

For Skyhawk Dumaine, one of his favourite parts of the job is doing the tandem jump, especially with newbies.

“It was fantastic, a beautiful day to jump, I’m glad I got to jump with you it was quite the experience,” he said after landing. “It’s the best jumping (in Penticton). You can’t beat the scenery from up there.”

Also doing the tandem jump this particular day were Peachfest board members Shawna Guitard (vice president) and Josh Shulman.

“So you do a backflip out of the plane and it’s pretty surreal, I’ve done backflips off cliffs and gainers off cliffs into water and stuff but out of a plane is a whole different deal,” said Shulman, an admitted adrenaline junkie who was also doing his second jump with the Skyhawks.

“You kind of see the plane behind you and then you flatten out and there’s the whole valley, that’s pretty wicked.

“It was awesome.”

Guitard simply described her experience Tuesday as; “Absolutely incredible, amazing, fantastic.”

And as far as doing it again, well, that’s still up in the air.

Mark Brett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Penticton Herald

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting