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by Monica Karlstein, staff writer

Imagine yourself exiting an airplane from 14,000 feet at a speed of 120 mph, your only lifeline a parachute that is expected to open after 60 seconds of freefall.

That’s exactly what four students from HPU did the first week of the spring term. You can do it too at Dillingham Airfield on O‘ahu’s North Shore, any day of the week.

“ When school started again, everything started so fast,” said Andreas Hedlund, a study abroad student at HPU. “I had done tandem skydiving before, and I knew how relaxing it is because you stop thinking about anything else but the jump.”

Hedlund chose to jump because it reduces stress and make him feel relaxed, but for his friends, skydiving was more stressful than peaceful. Everyone who jumps has to sign a liability release form which says that he or she is aware that “skydiving is dangerous” and that a skydiver “may be seriously injured or may die.”

For Carl-Mikael Grenninger, who was here on vacation, and for Karin Yttergren, Monica Karlstein, and Philipp Merker, all study abroad students at HPU, who were jumping for their first time, it felt pretty awkward to sign the contract.

“ I asked myself what I was doing,” said Yttergren. “I just read the first page, I knew that if I would have read all the pages I would have backed out,” she continued.

Grenninger said that he had a brief moment of second thoughts, and Merker said he felt as he had signed that he was ready to die.

“ When I sat in the airplane, that was when I got nervous for the first time,” said Grenninger. “Especially when they opened the door, and I understood that I was the first one to jump.”

Once he jumped with his instructor, the other in the plane made him even more nervous. “My mind was a blank,” said Yttergren. “And my heart stopped beating.”

Stepping out of the plane was the worst part for them all; however, the fall wasn’t as scary as they expected. While Grenninger’s tandem instructor Jonny Guru teased, “Welcome to my world, baby,” Grenninger felt that he had the biggest smile on his lips ever, and that smile lasted the rest of the day.
Once the parachutes had opened, they had an amazing landscape below them. Although no one saw any of the other Hawaiian Islands, as Skydive Hawai‘i’s Web site claimed, they were all thrilled by the never-ending ocean and mountains.

“ Thanks to my instructor, who made me feel very safe, I could really enjoy the view,” said Hedlund.
And Merker thought he was right: “He (my instructor) seemed to be very experienced and did a good job calming me down,” said Merker.

“ The best feeling was when it was over,” said Yttergren, describing how it felt to land and step out of the gear. “It was such a nice feeling to have it done.”

Both Grenninger and Hedlund agreed, “I was so euphoric when I landed,” said Hedlund.

Returning to Waikiki via Skydive Hawai‘i’s free shuttle, they were all in a silent mood with huge smiles in their faces, and they gave an unanimous “Yes,” when asked if they would ever do tandem skydiving again.

Skydive Hawaiiandem skydive with student discount: $125 + taxes $150 with DVD.For more information contact www.skydivehawaii.com

Philipp Merker jumping with his instructor.

Courtesy Philipp Merker

Skydivers coming in for a landing.

Photo by Anna Bandling






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