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Solo Static Line Skydiving in Malaysia - Ummi Goes Where?

Skydiving is one of the most common things I see on people’s bucket lists, and I totally get why. It’s scary and dangerous and expensive, but can be fun and life-changing at the same time. I say life-changing because many jumpers I met said they got addicted after the first jump.

It had been on my bucket list too, for quite a while. The initial dream was to do it in New Zealand — the land of extreme sports, but I was dead broke when I traveled there in 2012, so it was out of the question. In 2018, I finally decided that it didn’t matter where I should experience it for the first time, so long as I experienced it. Because I wanted to save money, the most sensible thing to do was to try it in my own country. I wouldn’t be flying over snow-capped mountains, but I’d be flying all the same.

After doing some online research, I discovered that I had two options: tandem skydiving and static-line skydiving.

Tandem Skydiving vs Static-Line

Tandem Skydiving

What is it?

Tandem skydiving is a skydive in which you’re strapped to a certified instructor. No training needed — basically you can turn up at the location 30 minutes before your scheduled jump, listen to some briefing, and be good to go.

Pros

  • Takes less time (can be done in a few hours).
  • Doesn’t require training.
  • You get to jump from a greater altitude (15,000 – 20,000 feet).
  • There’s more free-fall time (60 seconds or more), which means you get to experience the floating sensation for much longer before your parachute deploys.
  • Your instructor can bring a camera and help you record the experience.
  • Stress-free. You get to enjoy the experience more as you don’t have to worry about landing and keeping yourself alive.

Cons

  • More expensive, because you’re jumping from a greater height. The higher the plane has to go, the more expensive it gets. Plus, they also need to use a bigger, sturdier parachute to support the both of you. This adds up to the price.
  • You don’t get to learn how to do it yourself.
  • You won’t get a license.

Static-Line Skydiving

What is it?

Static-line skydiving is a solo jump. It’s the most basic form of solo skydiving, as you jump from a lower altitude and the parachute self-deploys within 3-5 seconds after you exit the aircraft. A full-day lesson is required prior to the jump.

Pros

  • Cheaper.
  • You get to learn how to do it yourself.
  • You get a license, which allows you to perform more jumps and proceed to more advanced courses.
  • More WOW factor, and extra bragging rights!

Cons

  • Takes more time. You will need to commit at least two days.
  • Riskier.
  • You have to jump from a lower altitude (3,000 feet).
  • Less free-fall time (3-5 seconds).
  • You have to do everything yourself, meaning you’ll most likely spend more time worrying than actually enjoying the view.
  • You’re not allowed to bring a camera.
  • It can be super damn scary, and if you chicken out on the plane, there will be no refunds.

Which One is Right for You?

In terms of enjoyment, tandem skydiving is the clear winner because you don’t have to worry about a thing other than how you look on camera. Your tandem partner does all the work for you. On top of that, since you’re jumping from a higher altitude, you get more free-fall time in the sky and enjoy the view much longer. 

On the other hand, static-line skydiving is a good choice if you intend to become an advanced / professional jumper. As for me, I had no plans to do any more than one jump, but after watching a video on static-line skydiving, I immediately knew it was the one I wanted.

The extra bragging rights overpowered everything else. It simply looks so badass! Besides, it’s not often that I get to have a skill that most other people don’t — usually it’s the other way around.

Static line skydiving in Malaysia - Ummi Goes Where?
Me — before the jump.

Can You Skydive Solo on Your First Jump?

Absolutely! I did it without prior experience. The only requirements for static-line skydiving are as follows:

  • All participants must be within their recommended Body Mass Index (BMI) and of a reasonable fitness level. The maximum weight is 95 kilograms, fully dressed.
  • Participants under the age of 18 will require parental consent. The minimum age for solo skydiving is 16 years. Some places may impose a maximum age limit for participants and require those over 40 to prepare a declaration of fitness from their doctor.
  • Participants must be free from medical conditions such as epilepsy, cardiovascular and neurological conditions, some forms of diabetes, and recurring injuries such as dislocations. It’s best to speak to your doctor if you’re unsure whether you’re fit to jump.
  • Participants must be able to read and write. The full day of ground training also requires students to be able to concentrate in a classroom environment for long periods of time, as well as understand and apply basic principles. Only students who pass both the theory and practical elements will be permitted to jump on their own. However, people with learning disabilities may still be allowed to participate, on a case-by-case basis.

Which Skydiving Center to Choose

Obviously, when choosing a skydiving center, you want to find one that is certified and experienced. A good skydiving club will ensure that each of their instructor’s qualifications are up to date, and will only hire reliable and experienced skydivers. Since you’re putting your life in their hands and paying good money for it, it’s perfectly okay to ask the center about their qualification and safety standards.

Other than safety, you should also look for centers that will give you an enjoyable experience. The best way to do this is by looking at their online reviews and reading what previous jumpers had to say about them. How do they treat their customers? Do they offer photography/videography service, and if so, how much? Will the camera be attached to the instructor’s wrist, or will there be a professional videographer?

Static line skydiving in Malaysia - Ummi Goes Where?
Skydiving is a high-risk activity.

In Malaysia, there aren’t many skydiving centers to choose from. I found two but one of them had suspended their skydiving activities until further notice. So, I went for the one in Segamat, Johor, called Hawk Skydive. It was founded almost 40 years ago by a military veteran who also pioneered civilian skydiving in Malaysia.

Since then, the club has trained thousands of skydivers, including celebrities, government ministers, and uniformed bodies. They had even been commissioned to train 50 youths to jump in the Malaysian Youth North Pole Expedition in 2007. In 2015, the Maldivian government hired them to train 35 of their locals to jump in conjunction with the Maldives’ 50th year of independence. So, they have a pretty impressive CV.

How Much is It?

I paid a total of RM1,300, inclusive of an optional RM100 for video recording. This was actually the cheapest one I found after comparing with skydiving packages in neighboring countries. Then again, most of the other diving centers did not offer static-line jumps, so I didn’t have much to compare with. This was in 2018. Please contact Hawk Skydive for their latest prices.

The Class

Before the class started, my fellow students and I had to sign a waiver form. No surprise there. As with any extreme sports, you have to declare that you understand the risks involved. The organizers are not going to be held responsible for anything unfortunate that happens to you — or whatever’s left of you.

After that, we had to give them our personal details, which would then be handed over to the state police department for a routine background check. This was to ensure that we were not terrorists trying to hijack the plane for a suicide mission.

We were also given a handbook, titled “MALFUNCTIONS”.

So, basically they have an entire book dedicated to things that could go wrong during a jump. How reassuring.

Static-line skydiving in Malaysia - Ummi Goes Where?
A whole book dedicated to malfunctions.

The class took about 6 hours. We learned about the parachute and how to operate it. We learned about altitudes, speed, and the directions of the wind. But mostly, we discussed the malfunctions and how to deal with them.

After the class, we had a trial jump from a stationary plane. First, the jumper had to sit next to the door. Actually, it was not even a door. It was just an opening, which would remain open during flight. Then, from the sitting position, we had to exit the aircraft slowly and stand on a small platform below the wing. On the jumpmaster’s command, we were to jump backward in a facedown spreadeagle position and count out loud, “One thousand, two thousand, three thousand…” and so on.

The purpose of counting was to know when to start panicking executing emergency procedures should the parachute fail to open. Ideally, it should self-deploy anytime between three thousand and five thousand. 

The Day of the Jump

The next morning, we gathered at 7 a.m., hoping to start before it got too hot. However, we were not given clearance to fly, as it was too misty. If it rained, we were going to have to postpone everything until the next day. While waiting for the sky to clear up, we practiced jumping again from the stationary plane, named The Great Old Lady. It was the same plane we were going to fly on later. The plane was so tiny that on each flight, it could only accommodate four persons: the pilot, the jumpmaster, and two jumpers.

By 9 a.m., we were ready to fly. The jumpers were randomly paired up. The heavier person in each pair would jump first. My partner was a guy called Kirshen. Fortunately for me, he was much bigger and taller, so he would be jumping first. We would be on the 6th flight. Out of the 16 jumpers, there were only 2 women.

During the flight, three cameras would be used to record the jumps — one on the jumpmaster’s helmet, one on the wing of the plane, and the last one on a drone at the landing site.

Something Went Wrong

When the first pair jumped, we all looked up and watched. They were but tiny dots in the sky. Our instructor stood on the runway with a walkie-talkie to give instructions to the jumpers. Everything seemed to be going fine. And then something unexpected happened.

The first jumper went the wrong way, and suddenly was too far out to make it back it back in time for landing. He was losing altitude fast. We could no longer see him behind the trees and buildings. The instructor frantically asked him to find a safe area to land. Then, he sent a guy on a motorbike to search for him.

The rest of us dared not say anything. We only watched in horror. The very first jumper of the day had made a terrifying (and possibly fatal) mistake. Was that an omen or something? A glance at the other jumpers’ faces told me we were all thinking the same thing: Shit just got real.

Luckily, the guy was okay. He landed on some field not too far away. Apparently, he had hesitated a few seconds too long before jumping, and on a moving plane, every second counts. As a result, he jumped too far away from the landing strip. Because of this distance, the instructor couldn’t make out which way he was facing and thus, had given him the wrong instructions. Needless to say, the jumper received an earful for his mistake.

And Then, It was My Turn!

The other jumpers did fine, thankfully, and before long, it was my turn to suit up. The suits were made of thick canvas to protect us during landing. Kirshen and I both chose orange jumpsuits, despite their resemblance to the kind you might see in another sort of facility.

Orange skydiving jumpsuit - Static line skydiving in Malaysia - Ummi Goes Where?
Please reduce my bail!

The crew helped me with my parachute backpack, goggle, helmet, altimeter, and walkie-talkie, making sure that everything was snug and secure.

 

I felt like I was being sent to war. Slowly (not for dramatic effect, but because the jumpsuit was slowing me down), I made my way to the plane and took my position behind the pilot.

 

 

When the plane took off, I closed my eyes and tried to hammer into my brain that this was an exciting experience and that I should enjoy every moment. Just as I was about to succeed in convincing myself, my eyes fell upon the altimeter and saw that we were going higher and higher.

That was when I suddenly stopped thinking altogether. My mind switched off and was sent into some sort of vacuum, where thoughts were just floating by but not really registering. I didn’t even look when Kirshen jumped.

 

In a zombie-like daze, I moved toward the door/opening/whatever next to the pilot. He took my hand and made me hold on tightly to a handhold above my head. Then, he made a sharp turn — the kind that tilted the plane sideways. If you were on a normal airplane and looked out the window, you’d see either all sky or all land, depending on which side of the plane you were on. I saw all land.

It just felt very different when you were sitting on a plane where there was no wall beside you but a wide gaping hole that would have been happy to chuck you out had you not been holding on to something.

The Jump

The jumpmaster then patted me on the shoulder, signaling my time to go. I struggled to put my legs in position. With the wind coming from the front and from the propeller, plus the heavy backpack weighing me down, it proved to be more difficult than I thought. I looked at the jumpmaster who said something I couldn’t hear amidst the loud roar of the wind and the engine. Then, I saw him mouthing, “Go”.

I jumped, hit my head on the wing, and while my mind was still trying to process what had happened, the parachute had deployed. I hadn’t even had time to open my mouth and count to 5000.

The walkie-talkie then crackled to life, giving me step-by-step instructions on what to do. I looked below me and saw the tiny roofs of houses and buildings. There was a swimming pool on a rooftop, looking about as big as a Band-Aid. And there was the vast blue sky all around me. I had to wonder if I was really doing what I thought I was doing. At that point, I realized that this could either end well, or very, very badly. I was in no hurry to find out.

But time passed in a blur and I soon had to prepare for landing. Again, my instructor guided me through it all. At one point, he asked me to head to the left, towards the landing strip. After a few seconds of silence, he said, “Hello? I said go to your left, not your right!”

It took me a moment to realize that I had mixed up left and right…again! I should probably have warned the instructor about my total lack of coordination.

Anyway, I fell hard on my butt, but at least it was on grass, not on gravel. It wasn’t as bad as I had expected. The fact that I had landed in one piece was a good enough achievement. My instructor asked me to stand up if I was alright (I was too far away for him to see me properly). As I stood up, I noticed the drone hovering above me, so I gave a little wave.

 

I had landed at least a hundred meters off target — they had to send a pickup truck to fetch me and my parachute.

 

Free lunch was served while we waited for the instructors to prepare our certificates and licenses. While eating, one of the guys told us about his previous jumps. Apparently, he had done a few, and when he was not jumping, he often came to watch.

He said this was the first time in his experience that there had not been any injury. Usually, there would be cuts, bruises, broken bones, or — at the very least — sprains. He himself had once impaled his leg when he landed on a sharp wooden fence. He ended up in the hospital and in a wheelchair for many months. Well, all I can say is I’m glad he didn’t tell us any of this before we did our jumps.

After lunch, we had a certificate-awarding ceremony.

Me receiving my certificate from Hawk Skydive, Malaysia - static line skydiving - Ummi Goes Where?
I don’t know why they were laughing.

And lastly, we took a photo with The Great Old Lady.

The newly licensed skydivers at Hawk Skydive Malaysia - static line skydiving - Ummi Goes Where?
A male-dominated sport

The Verdict

Once we had received our licenses, we had the option to sign up for a second jump, if we still hadn’t had enough. When I said no, the people at the skydiving school were visibly disappointed because they seemed to be very certain I would be as addicted to the sport as they were. So, I backtracked and said, “Not today!” The truth was, I was just super glad I had come out of it alive, and I definitely wasn’t going to tempt fate a second time.

The next day, they posted a video of us on their YouTube channel and Facebook page:

 
My friends were really amazed. Heck, even I was amazed. Some of them said they had heart palpitations just watching the video. When I watched it the first time, I couldn’t believe my eyes either. I really did that?!
 

Somehow, in the video, I managed to look calm and composed, although — I can assure you — I felt anything but. I don’t think I want to repeat the experience. Tandem skydive, maybe, but not anything solo, especially after I heard all the horror stories.

Static line skydiving in Malaysia - Hawk Skydive - Ummi Goes Where?
My skydiving certificate and license.

How about you? Would you like to try solo skydiving? Comment below.

Posted in Adventure, Malaysia

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29 Comments

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  2. Jen

    I admire you!
    I don’t think I have the guts to be on top, but I bet you had watched a beautiful scene from the top!
    Have fun & keep challenging yourself.

    • ummi

      Thank you, Jen. It was quite enjoyable up there, actually, but I do agree it’s not for everyone. Perhaps you’d like to try tandem skydiving instead? Would be less scary when there’s a qualified instructor doing the jump with you. 🙂

    • ummi

      Ye.. harga ok la, berbaloi, sebab sekali dgn training, lesen dan sijil. Kalau skydive di tempat lain, rasanya tak dapat harga mcm ni. Ada kesempatan, nanti cuba la. 😊

  3. Chloe Beaver

    This was such a cool story! I had no idea you could jump solo on your first time, although the comment the instructor made about it being the first time that no one had been injured made me a little weary. Skydiving is one of those things I think everyone needs to cross off their bucket list, and how awesome to do it in Malaysia as well. I’m sure the view was beautiful!

    • ummi

      Thank you, Chloe! Yes, you can skydive solo on your first time, as long as you complete the training, but you won’t jump from a great height. View was alright in Malaysia 😄

  4. Madam B

    Some one saying, “Those who don’t jump will never fly”. Leena Ahmad Almashat

    F. L. Y First Love Yourself. Mdm harus sayangi betul diri sebelum serius berani terbang. Haha. Ohoo mdm tak cukup berani untuk ni semua. Highest congrats superwoman in you for dare to fly!

    • ummi

      Thank you so much! I sometimes surprise myself by the things that I do. And thank you for sharing those quotes. I’ve never heard of them before, but can totally relate. The hardest step is to take that leap of faith, and until you can do that, you can’t fly. 🙂

  5. Sis Lin

    Oh no…kalau Sis dah gelap mata dan otak Ummi atas tu.. Sis memang tak berani laaa, takut..baca Ummi punya cerita je Sis dah ngeri… takut walau ada yang bantu sama.. memang tak lee Sis nak buatnya huhuhu…

    • ummi

      Hehe, never say never, sis! Mana la tau kot2 satu hari nanti keberanian tu tiba2 muncul, kan? Kalau sis tak berani yang ni, mungkin boleh cuba yang tandem. Yang tu, xpayah nak risau tentang nak control payung terjun, sebab semua org buatkan. 🙂

    • ummi

      Hehe cuak tu memang ada. Bagi yang dah biasa buat pun confirm ada rasa nervous. But that’s part of the fun la, I suppose. Ya, yg ni memang antara yang termurah yg saya pernah jumpa. Siap lesen dan sijil. Kalau berminat, boleh la contact Hawk Skydive.

  6. Kitkat Nelfei

    Oh my God.. this is so fun tho! Well, I need to gather all my courage before I can do this thoo.. I suppose to do this with my friends at Houston back then.. ended up i chickened out last minute.. 😛 i am so proud of you, Ummi… i shouted when I look at Popeye video.. he did that on purpose or he slip? 😛 my heart stopped for few seconds tho..

    • ummi

      I’m not really sure, actually — by the time Popeye jumped, I had already left. But he’s a crazy person, I think it was done on purpose 😆 Btw, if solo skydive scares you, you might want to start with tandem first? With a tandem partner leading the way, you won’t be able to chicken out 😉

  7. Nina Mirza

    Vavavaaa… Hebat nya Ummi..!!
    Masa before kawin dulu Nina minat aktiviti outdoor lasak gini tapi bila dah berusia ni rasa gayat cuak lak. Faktor usia kot. HAhaaa… Anyway harga tu amat berpatutan dengan pengalaman yang dirasai

  8. huda

    Wah..syok yer dah rasa pengalaman. Bucketlist huda juga ni.baru ni ada dapat offer tandem , tapi tak dapat nak pergi ada urusan lain.hope ada rezeki nak rasa sendiri terbang

    • ummi

      Oh sayangnya. Tandem mungkin lagi best kot daripada static line ni, sebab boleh terjun dari altitud yg lebih tinggi. Takpe, satu hari nanti mungkin ada rezeki Huda. 🙂

  9. Ruby

    Wahhh bestnya Ummi! Seronok kan. Akak dua kali ke Sky Diving. Lepas tu dah tak join. Bila nak join, gigil pulak rasa. Maybe dah mula rass takut dan gayat. Hahaha. All the best Ummi.

  10. Zaza

    Erm no thank you. Haha i reject awal2. But i really admire your courage sis. U really are a daredevil. Not many people can conquer their fears and excel well. Kudos

    • ummi

      Thank you, Zaza. I don’t consider myself a daredevil, maybe just a little kooky. 😄 And no, I still haven’t conquered my fear of heights, as you will see in my upcoming articles.

  11. Jamie

    All the details about sky diving were so fascinating, I didn’t really know the differences between Tandem and Solo. Anyone that can go sky diving is super brave to me – I’m certain I would not be able to. So I’ll “fly” vicariosly through braver people, such as yourself. What an incredible experience.

    • ummi

      Thanks, Jamie! I was super scared too actually. Don’t know what I was thinking when I signed up for this. But then again, you never know until you try it for yourself. You might be braver than you think 🙂

  12. Raksha N

    This is absolutely amazing. I never knew about Static-Line Skydiving. I have done two tandem dives and they were breathtaking, but I would be freaked out doing the solo dive I think. But it does sound amazing and the self deploy of the parachute does sound cool. Anyway I will try sometime and see how I go.

    • ummi

      Oh, since you’ve done two tandem jumps, then it’s only appropriate to take it to the next level, no? 😁 I, on the other hand, wouldn’t want to repeat this. But I’m glad I can say I’ve done it.

  13. Clarice

    Well, I am guilty! Skydiving is also on my bucket list. I think being able to overcome your fear is what makes it appealing. Thank you for sharing this comparison. Very helpful. I am leaning more towards tandem skydiving despite the cost since it’s going to be my first time.

    • ummi

      Tandem skydiving is actually a great choice, as you get to enjoy the experience more, and not to mention the longer free fall time. If I were to do it again, I’d choose tandem too. Well, I hope you’ll get to do it soon. All the best! ☺️

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