I’ll start this article by screaming just WOOOOOOOW!!!!
Dreaming about jumping over the ancient Egyptian Pyramids in Egypt was somewhere at the back of all my thoughts but constantly shining through in my head. One day I received a message from Mahmoud Sharaf, the organiser of the event, asking if I would like to join the boogie as a camera flyer and shoot for them. The answer was given in half a second and it was just “Yes – bring it on!! But still couldn’t quite believe it until I had a ticket in my email telling me, «Man, wake up you’re gonna jump the Pyramids»!
I arrived at a very nice hotel right in front of the Pyramids in Giza, with a stunning view of the ancient culture of Egypt. On the first day of the event, while participants were still arriving from around the world, Moustafa Saeed, the main organiser of the event, came to me with a question… Would I like to replace Tom Noonan on the first jump and take his tandem passenger, Jim Wigginton, as Tom was not able to get there in time. So it seemed I had no choice, I was really excited to do my first jump out of a C130 and the first ever tandem jump above the Pyramids! So of course the answer was ‘yes’.
The first day at 6:30am we went to see the landing area. In the beginning it looked a bit sketchy and rocky but I chose myself a nice spot and aimed for it perfectly. Acompanying us on this jump was Paul Henry as a camera flyer.
After landing I literally couldn’t speak. It was so emotional, flying above one of the Seven Wonders of the World! I was almost touching the top of the biggest Pyramid of Kheops.
The day carried on, packing chutes in the hotel on a comfortable carpet floor. Everyone moved for lunch in one of the very good restaurants right in front of the Sphinx, tasting Egyptian food and it was delicious. Then all of us sat in the buses and went to the Pyramids to look inside and do the touristic thing. Bill Booth wanted to make the picture like he’s touching the pyramid from the top and we made it as well. Walking on the layers of ancient history is an unforgettable experience.
In the evening there was another surprise from organisers, a beautiful cruise and dinner on the Nile river. The ship started its engines and carried us down the river under local musicians’ songs with a belly dancer showing her best program, with cheering from all skydivers constantly. Time passed and we all got back to our hotel – happy and tired a after long day full of emotions and ready for the second day of adventures…
6:30am buses were filling up with 65 skydivers ready to shred the sky and starting to go towards the airbase located in an international airport. We arrived in the airport VIP Lounge, 1 hour later as it’s on the other side of Cairo, but the ride was so smooth and good that no one probably noticed this time. Herman Landsman, well known as a great organiser of C130 loads and spotting aircraft, setting the schedule of all 3 passes and we moved to the aircraft full of excitement.
A little throwback… By the time I was sat in the plane to Cairo full of the excitement of deploying my canopy over the dream location for many skydivers, I couldn’t even imagine that I would meet the man who inspired me to skydive in 1999 – Omar Alhegelan with his famous «Skydiving Yoga» video over the Arizona Desert. I watched it countless times on post Soviet TV, dreaming that one day I will fly like this too. So 19 years later I’m meeting Omar at such a beautiful event – and we get to jump together on the second day creating THE picture in an almost celestial line of Man flying towards the Pyramids.
Another landing where I was speechless! All those cameras of local TV channels and cheering crowd on the ground faded with the thought, «if I made this picture or not?» And after checking the camera answer was definitely ‘YES’…
Packing, lunch, some people went for an excursion to Cairo Museum and I edited the pictures… and woke up at 5pm :) The second day passed easily and smooth dinner was on another 5 star, huge ship on the river, but not moving this night. It was a more quiet evening than the first but really special.
Same time take off from the hotel and on last day everything was even smoother and faster. Right in the airport I met Egyptian Freestyler Nada Attia and the jump plan was sorted by itself straight away. Nada used to work in Skydive Dubai and we’ve jumped together a few times around the globe. The plane took off and it took us even less time to climb up to 15000ft and get to jump run. The exit of C130 is a blast of air with terminal velocity right away, and it played perfectly to catch a shot with a little girl in Eusan with the Hercules in the background.
Freestyle is one of the most spectacular disciplines in skydiving and skill-wise is most advanced for both camera flyer and performer. Last time I was opening my canopy with a bit of sadness for the end of the event, but sure that I caught the shot. I moved towards the Pyramids with hope to find another victim to frame him above this spectacular view… but the guys who went before us already were in the landing pattern and I decided to take a perfectly centred and close shot of the Pyramid in between my feet.
In the hotel, the organisers had kept one more surprise for participants, it was a Freefly Seminar held by Omar Alhegelan! He told stories of the beginning of new era of flying, how they were inventing all those stunning manuvers and many other tales all the way to present day safety standards on high speed jumps. The event finished with a party in the outside restaurant and cutting a Birthday Cake for this new and incredible destination for skydivers.
It was truly international, this event organised by Skydive Egypt. People from 20 countries attended this amazing boogie and everyone was really happy to be the first to land next to the Pyramids, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. If you have a chance to catch up with the next event it is highly recommended as an unbelievably special destination for an extraordinary breathtaking experience!