Sports Parachuting

As the aircraft approached the drop-zone at 10,000 feet, the team leader peers out of the aircraft door for visual confirmation. He gives the 2 minutes hand-signal to all jumpers. Everyone in the stick gives their equipment a final check. All the jumpers in the stick begin to shuffle close together in tight formation. 30 seconds … and everyone’s heart starts pounding. As the pilot steadies the aircraft, the green light appears. Jumper Master taps the first jumper and everyone follows…. In Singapore, parachute jumps are conducted only by the SAF (Singapore Armed Forces) Commando unit – Parachute Training Wing for both static line and military freefall as part and parcel of military training. For civilians who want to experience the thrill of jumping off an aircraft (solo or tandem), newbies and qualified jumpers have to travel elsewhere to enjoy this exhilarating sport, and this means spending a fair bit on travel expenses and rental of equipent. For the thrill-seekers, another alternative is in the pipeline for a freefall experience. An article published in TODAY newspapers.

The Sky’s the limit at Sentosa’s iFly.
With no parachute drop zone in Singapore, skydivers here must go overseas to get their adrenaline rush. Although the setting up of a drop zone is still some ways away, there is some relief around the corner for enthusiasts with the opening of a skydiving simulator at Sentosa by the second quarter of 2009. The simulator, called “iFly Singapore”, will be the world’s joint-largest skydiving simulator with a diameter of five metres and a flying height of 17m or the equivalent of five storeys allowing up to 20 flyers at a time at speeds of between 120 and 180mph (190 and 290kmh). The other joint-largest skydiving simulator in the world is the Paraclete XP SkyVenture in the United States. Securing the franchise is SkyVenture Singapore, which secured a 21-year deal with US-based SkyVenture USA, the world’s leading designer and builder of vertical wind tunnels. “As the public has no access to a parachute drop zone in Singapore, iFly Singapore will offer anyone from amateurs to professionals the chance to skydive in a safe, realistic and affordable indoor setting,” said SkyVenture Singapore managing director Lawrence Koh yesterday. “The simulator will play a key role in promoting this unique sport in Asia whilst attracting world-class skydivers and international skydiving events here.” It will be open to members of the public aged three and above, and will cost not more than $40 per person. An online booking system will be set up to facilitate bookings. The iFly Singapore facility will also have over 10,000 square feet of retail, food and beverage floor space. There are also plans to bring top-class competitions, including the prestigious International Bodyflight Championship, and hold skydiving courses, ranging from beginner to intermediate and advanced. Despite the $16 million price tag, Koh is confident the simulator will be a success. For the simulator’s first year of operations, he believes it will attract about 100,000 people, with returns of between $8 million and $10 million. “A freefall usually takes about 45 seconds, and a typical tandem skydive costs between $400 to $600 and involves overseas travel. But here, it is more affordable and it will be for a longer time,” said Koh, a former Officer Commanding of the Singapore Armed Forces’ Parachuting School. “More and more Singaporeans are interested in adrenaline sports, and this is something they will like. I’m confident we will break even in three years.” — TAN YO-HINN

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