Think you’re too stuck in your ways to change direction? As this Dubai woman proves, you can enter a whole new world whenever you want. Advertisement manager Stephanie Morgner, 31, from Germany, caught the skydiving bug two years ago.
“I’ll never forget the moment the plane doors opened and I looked down at the world below me. I’d done two tandem jumps before, but I quickly realised that throwing yourself out of a plane is a very different experience from just being on the back of someone. All of my instincts were telling me to not do it, but instead I ran to the edge and jumped.
I’d been looking for a new challenge for a while. However, I was unsure what that was until I did a tandem jump with my friend in 2009. Seeing the world from above was like nothing I’d ever experienced and the moment we landed, all I wanted to do was get back up in the skies again. After my second tandem jump last November I felt desperate to free-fall on my own. But I was terrified. What if I couldn’t do it on my own? What if I cracked up right there in the middle of the sky? What if I forgot to pull the parachute cord? The more I procrastinated, the more my friends kept telling me to go for it.
At Dhs10,000, the acceleration free-fall course, which lasted two weeks at a camp in the desert, wasn’t cheap but I knew that if I got through it, it would be worth it. I wanted to see what I was really made of so I signed up to the Skydive Dubai School in January this year. My first day at its camp felt like my first day of school. There were lots of people on the course, all a bit younger than me and mostly men, which worried me at first, but they were great – everyone was in the same situation and we started to feel like an extended family! Over the fortnight we did lots of ground theory, learning about what to do if something goes wrong with your parachute. The more I learned about the theory behind it all, the more confident I felt about jumping.
I did my first solo jump over the desert and was nowhere near as nervous as I thought I’d be – it was a huge thrill. The exhilaration you feel when you jump makes you feel as if you’re floating on top of the world. While you experience a huge adrenalin rush, you’re also very calm and everything becomes very clear. Since then I’ve completed seven solo jumps and each one is always different and a challenge. At the moment I’m still jumping over the desert as, to be able to jump over Palm Jumeirah, you have to have done a minimum of 50 solo sky-dives (due to the hazards there, such as buildings and a smaller landing area). There’s nothing in the desert for me to hit apart from sand and maybe a few camels - although I did manage to land in a bush once! While I’m not in a relationship now, if I did meet someone, they’d have to understand how important skydiving is to me. It takes up a lot of my weekends and whenever I go out with the skydiving team, all we talk about is skydiving! It’s also a very male-dominated sport, although I’m trying to get more women into it, so my partner would have to understand that I’m around men a lot! But I wouldn’t change it. Aside from the buzz, my new hobby has given me more confidence – when I have a problem at work, I remind myself that I jump out of planes and if I can do that, I can do anything. Now, when I look up into the sky I think, ‘I’m usually falling down from there.’” Visit skydivedubai.ae for details.