Saturday, 8 June 2013

Skydiving - getting high over Reunion

Skydiving. Jumping out of a plane and hoping that a few strings and a piece of material are going to stop you falling to earth. It's not for me (I prefer diving), but my husband recently did his first ever parachute jump and loved it.

In Réunion all parachuting is done at Pierrefonds airport in the south, near St Pierre (Réunion's other airport, Roland Garros at Ste Marie has too much air traffic). All jumps take place at the island's only civilian skydiving club: the Paraclub de Bourbon (the video above and all photos below are courtesy of the club).

the Paraclub's plane: a Pilatus Porter

Pilatus PC-6 Porters, like that of the Paraclub, are single-engined short take-off and landing utility aircraft.

Skydiving is very much dependent on the weather - if there's too much wind the plane doesn't take off.

the airfield windsock, (but more modern methods
are now used to check wind speed)

The plane takes about 10 or 15 minutes to climb up to ≈4000m altitude, and the views over the south of Reunion are amazing.

St Pierre town

Your first jump is always in tandem, with an instructor. Once the plane has reached the correct altitude it's time to jump.

Initially a small drogue parachute is deployed to reduce terminal velocity while you free-fall for 50 seconds at a speed of 200km/h.

At 1500m altitude the instructor deploys the main canopy, and it then takes you several minutes to float gently back to earth.

the canopy unfurls

The area above and around where you expect to land is known as the drop zone.

coming into land.

Useful links:

the view inland from Pierrefonds airport

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