NEWS reporter Candace Wu and professional skydiver Dennis Harker take an impromptu skydive last Tuesday afternoon over beautiful Parksville Qualicum Beach in anticipation of the upcoming Island Fever Skydive Festival Oct. 16-18.

Island Fever Skydive Festival slated for this weekend in Qualicum Beach

NEWS reporter jumps 10,000 feet during impromptu skydive over Vancouver Island

There are few moments in life that truly take your breath away.

Skydiving is certainly one of them.

I stopped by Skydive Vancouver Island last week to write a piece about the upcoming Island Fever Skydive Festival slated for Oct. 16-18 in Qualicum Beach which is expected to attract 70 to 80 professional skydivers from all over the country, including Canadian champions and world record holders.

Owner Gord Gauvin said the “boogie” (as it’s known to skydiving insiders) is open to the public and offers a great opportunity for first-time skydivers, experienced adrenaline seekers and/or those who just want to watch people parachute out of planes.

Then, Gauvin asked me if I’d like to try it.

I hadn’t planned on diving out of a plane at 10,000 feet that afternoon, but I figured why not — I could write it off as research.

So, Gauvin strapped me up and loaded me into a small Cessna aircraft with experienced skydiver Dennis Harker who has completed more than 2,450 jumps in his incredible lifetime.

Up we went.

“You know, I’m surprisingly not even that nervous,” I told Harker as we ascended to 10,000 feet over breathtaking Vancouver Island.

Just as the words came out of my mouth, our pilot seemingly melodramatically flung the door open and I felt a rush of cold air wash over my face as the gut-wrenching nerves inevitably kicked in.

If my face wasn’t paralyzed with fear I may have asked to back-out last minute, but the next thing I knew I was tumbling out of the plane in free fall.

It was the most liberating 41 seconds of my life.

Though I will admit it felt a lot longer than 41 seconds and I caught myself wondering if something had gone wrong with the parachute and I was destined to be our next news story.

I’m happy to report that was not the case.

There’s something to be said about the fleeting moments in time where you are purely living in the present. It doesn’t happen often, but it happens — and it puts everything else in perspective.

If you’ve ever wanted to skydive, just do it.

In fact, Island Fever Skydive Festival would be a great time.

On Friday, October 16 Gauvin said the shop will be orchestrating a canopy camp from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for experienced skydivers. Registration is required.

On Saturday, the Parksville Qualicum Beach Aero Club will host a pancake breakfast at Skydive Vancouver Island (located at the Qualicum Beach Airport) from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and a barbecue from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Gauvin said it will be a great opportunity for people who want to take their first jump as they will be using a Caravan plane that carries up to 15 skydivers as well as their smaller Cessna plane. This means multiple people can jump at once, or one after another.

It will be prime-time for spectators too, who Gauvin said are encouraged to bring lawn chairs to their site as organizers are setting up a viewing space near the landing area. With dozens of experienced skydivers signed up, it is sure to be a memorable show.

Tandem skydives will be offered for $325, as well as observation rides for $50.

Meanwhile, Pedego Bikes will be on location renting out their electric bikes for $15. They will have an ongoing tour looping around Qualicum Beach and co-owner Julie Edwards said cyclists will be able to watch skydivers all along the trail.

Jumps start every morning at 9 a.m. and the last load will leave around 6:30 p.m.

For more information call Skydive Vancouver Island at 250-580-JUMP (5867) or visit www.skydivevancouverisland.com.

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