Maja Kuczynska – Bigger than the Sky
Stunning routine by Maja Kuczyńska
Up here – we are incredibly lucky to have an eagle’s view of the top of the world! This fantastic Himalayan mountain span, which feeds the lower lands with glacier water, bubbles with life. Our Everest Skydive team has successfully completed its seventh expedition of HALO skydiving above the highest peaks of the world.
Explore Himalaya and Fishtail Helicopters work alongside an international core crew of parachuting specialists on location in Nepal. We coordinate the in-country logistics with Explore Himalaya, Fishtail Helicopters, mountain guides and local families.
The logistics of an Elite Adventure like Everest Skydive require a very complex team of experts, given the remoteness of the location. This is the highest drop zone in the world, operating once a year for clients preparing to do a tandem (with an instructor), or a solo skydiver who has enough experience to jump in this environment.
The complete Everest Skydive adventure has been able to proceed with guidance and communication directly with the Civil Aviation Authorities in Nepal and the Board of Tourism, Nepal. An invaluable support has been Suman Pandy, the President of Explore Himalaya Travel and Adventure, a long time Katmandu-based company, who was awarded Businessman of the Year in 2011 in Nepal.
With Explore Himalaya we have worked to develop Everest Skydive into one of the world’s leading adventure tourism ventures for Nepal. In less than three years we have made it onto CNN’s list of the world’s ‘Top Ten Experiences Before You Die’.
At the beginning of 2009, after my involvement in the first Everest Skydive expedition, as Director of Aerial Production and Aerial Cameraman, alongside Omar Alhegelan, I was contacted to see if I was willing to bring together a core team of experts for the continuation of this adventure.
When you come to Nepal, you get to understand that the mountains and so many routes of trekking support local life, as the doors of income for so many Nepali people. These majestic mountains are completely humbling; you fall in love with this country and the people. I did!
The Core Crew of Everest Skydive beginning from 2008 is Tom Noonan, Derek Thomas, Ryan Jackson, Omar Alhegelan and myself [Wendy Smith].
During the first Everest expedition (2008) I had the pleasure to meet and work with Tom Noonan, Chief Tandem Advisor and Instructor from the USA. A Master Rigger and extremely safety conscious skydiver, Tom remains the Chief Instructor and Equipment Advisor for Everest Skydive in all expeditions today. He is one of the most experienced crew members and brings knowledge, passion and his Boston gentle manner to the mountains.
Tom and I completed two new records in the Himalaya; the world’s highest landing onto Kala Plateau at 17,192 feet, and an Exceptional High Altitude tandem jump from 30,200 feet with British passenger Nick Leventis, Le Mans Racing Car Grand Prix champion.
Derek Thomas, founder of Sunpath Products Inc, has supported Everest skydive from the very beginning. He is a Master Rigger, Designer/Innovator of skydiving equipment and an internationally renowned skydiver. Derek’s life has been devoted to the sport of skydiving. This year his son Kyle joined the team.
Doctor Ryan Jackson has been our expedition doctor and medical advisor, right from the very first Everest Skydive. As well as being an accomplished tandem master and commercial pilot, he has a great passion for the mountains and has his eye on a few more Himalayan peaks. He is a resident full time doctor in the UK and a super fit guy with a huge sense of adventure.
Heather Bisiker, Aspen Colarado mountain rescue guide, Commercial Pilot and long time skydiver, is a recent addition to our team. Her roles are many, inlcuding client liaison, ground to air communications, oxygen kit-up and more.
Returning with our team was Alex Beshe, professional cameraman, editor and producer of his own company, Monsoon pictures, based in New Zealand. Alex’s remote location working ability remains outstandingI had previously worked with Alex on challenging glacier and extreme sports live air show shootings in New Zealand and knew he was well suited for our expedition.
World Champion Omar Ahegelan returned to the Everest Skydive team, bringing a wealth of excellence and experience. I had the pleasure of sharing my 20,000th jump with Omar into Amadablam base camp during our October 2013 expedition.
Opening new locations throughout the Himalayas has been an awesome challenge and very exciting. It shows the onward support and communication from within Nepal and Explore Himalaya.
Our chosen oxygen system for Everest Skydive for pilots and parachutists is supplied by Ted Atkins, engineer and mountaineer.
One of the essential attributes to being on the Everest Skydive crew is the ability to multi task at a level of excellence. This is a remote location with phases of trekking, acclimatization, equipment familiarization, HALO skydiving, extreme temperatures and customs to abide by – you can be called upon for all kinds of duties.
The view from the TOP of the WORLD is breathtakingly beautiful. The environment extremes are harsh with temperature changes ranging from -45° to -20° C in the slipstream. There are constant atmosphere changes as we descend and wind conditions that normally only are only flown in by airline pressurized jets.
People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things.
We use both fixed wing and helicopter jump aircraft; the Pilatus Porter PC6 and the B3 Eurocopter. Up here the considerations of wind, weather, oxygen and fuel are of extreme importance. Calculations must be made constantly during our climb.
It is the most stunning scenic flight up past Mount Everest, over retreating glaciers and beaming peaks that seem to reach the sky themselves, before turning the aircraft into position and running in for exit.
The ground crew and friends await the arrival of each parachute back to the landing area. They greet the clients, who embrace with joy and surreally overwhelmed emotion, with what they have just experienced.
The Nepali mountain crews are summiteers, ice climbers and full time Himalayan Mountain Guides. We work together bringing travel, trek, equipment and mountain safety into play during all stages of our expedition. These guides are also learning to skydive. The onward project is to train local Nepali into this adventure – sharing and learning so as it gives back to Nepal and the survival of the route to Everest and The Top of the World.
Sir Edmund Hillary, the first to summit Mount Everest recognized his success not as an end but a beginning … for others. He saw it not as an opportunity for himself … but for others
Everest Skydive brings amazing people together from all around the world. This place can humble the most outrageous.
These majestic mountains are completely humbling; you fall in love with this country and the people
We are partners with International Charity Global Angels, raising over US$ 500,000 for the benefit and education of children in Nepal and Asia. I am a committed member of Global Angels team and as one of the International Global Angel Ambassadors received Global Angel Ambassador of the Year for 2011.
The unsurpassed support from our sponsors has been amazing and splendid: UPT Sigma, Performance Designs, Vigil Aero, Sun Path Products, Larsen & Brusgaard and Top Out O2 have helped us put this location on the world’s top Bucket List
We have tested a serious amount of equipment in one of the world’s most challenging environments and we continue to thank you everyone involved for the opportunity to do so. As we further our knowledge, new records come into sight.
Everest Skydive attracts celebrities and skydivers from all around the globe. World Skydiving VIP Bill Booth and his wife Terri joined the trek to Everest Skydive during 2011. Bill has been a major innovator for sport skydiving equipment since the beginning of time – well, almost! ;-) Bill and Terri shared their tenth honeymoon with us at the top of the world by trekking and jumping with us in October 2011. My heartfelt thanks to you both for your support and for sharing this occasion with us.
The 2014 Everest Skydive Expedition dates are set for October and we are already taking bookings for this season.
Contact Wendy Smith for information: freeflykiwis(at)gmail.com or visit Everest Skydive website