Free falling

Bob Shaw does a tandem skydive with instructor Luci Sima.

When Bob Shaw stepped out of the airplane into the sky his first thought was “uh oh, what did I do.” But he says those doubts were immediately replaced by the exhilaration of the free fall and the roar of the air rushing past his ears.

On the ground, 8,000 feet below, his family peered up into the sky trying to pick out the tiny dot that was Shaw against the expanse of blue as he took his first tandem skydive over the Slate River Valley on Friday.

The flight with Adventure Skydiving was a gift from his family for his 65th birthday when the Manitoba-based company made their annual stop in Thunder Bay for the August long weekend.

In 2011 his wife Carol Shaw fulfilled her lifelong dream of skydiving and at the time Bob said he was interested too.

“He has spoken of it over the years and I thought it would be a brilliant 65th birthday,” said Carol, adding that she loved the experience. “It was beautiful. It’s the most terrifying but amazing thing I’ve ever done. I have always looked for what will ever be that exciting again.”

Harnessed to an instructor, participants can jump out of the Cessna 182 from 8,000 feet or, for a longer free fall, 10,000 feet, explained Cristina Spiridon, with Adventure Skydiving.

“The harness connected to the tandem parachute, the instructor gives them a briefing, they explain what they have to do and they go up in the plane, and they jump,” said Spiridon. “It’s usually around half an hour to go up and back.”

Back on the ground Bob hugged his grandsons and said he would definitely do it again.

“It was awesome,” said Bob. “And it’s wonderful to share it with everyone. If anyone has the chance to do it, go for it.”

Set up at the Slate River Airstrip on Highway 130 and McCluskey Drive from Thursday to Monday, Spiridon said they get between 20 and 30 people each day. It’s usually pre-booked but they do accept walk-ins if they are not too busy. With a $50 deposit the cost of a skydive is between $316 to $373.

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