Sara Montalvao recently decided to push herself outside her
comfort zone by doing a tandem skydive in Jersey in April as part
of her bucket list. Sara found the experience so exhilarating that
she decided to take things to the next level and in October she
became the first female to qualify for freefall in Jersey under the
Static Line Progression System.
We were curious to find out more so we asked her why she has
decided to take up this sport, how she copes with fear and what she
does to stay active.
It's well known that you are always pushing yourself
outside your comfort zone but why skydiving?
My fascination with parachuting began at the age of 10 after
attending an open day organised by
the Paratroopers. After so many years of wishing to
jump out of a plane I have finally decided to take the plunge and
do it, no more excuses, especially as I did not even need to
travel that far…only to St Peter (laughs).
Tell us more about your training, what is
Static-Line Parachuting is an alternative method of getting
qualified to the Accelerated Freefall courses available abroad and
we can do it on our door step here in Jersey which is really
helpful. One full day of ground-training is all that is required to
carry out our first solo parachute jump from 3,500ft. The parachute
opens automatically by a 'static-line' which is attached to the
aircraft (so there is no freefall involved initially). As we
progress through the parachute training system we can start
freefall skydiving and gradually jump from higher altitudes.
That seems like quite a challenge to go from a tandem
experience to jumping on your own, as a beginner how do you cope
Skydiving is an adventure sport that involves a degree of risk.
I took up this sport in order to challenge my fears.
In a nutshell, I accept the fact that skydiving is dangerous and
it will trigger fear of some description. I simply acknowledge and
embrace the fear in order to help me to stay safe without letting
it interfere with my enjoyment of this exhilarating sport. I know
it won't always be as scary as with experience comes familiarity.
For me one of the benefits is that when I learn to manage the level
of fear that skydiving can induce, I will be able to carry it into
other aspects of my life.
I also find that controlled, regular breathing and mental
preparation by visualising what I am going to do helps to alleviate
the tension and stress.
Believe it or not, despite the nerves, it's a very peaceful
sensation and it is very relaxing once you get over the intense
adrenaline rush of leaving the plane. To start with it is fairly
loud because of the plane and wind noise but once the parachute is
open, it's very quiet and peaceful while gliding gently through the
air overlooking the Island.
So having a healthy mind is really important, what do
you do to stay on top of things?
For me it is particularly important to stay fit and I am very
lucky that Active offers such an abundance of classes to suit all
my needs. For this particular sport it helps to have a strong core,
strong back and a strong mind.
Can anyone do skydiving, or is it only for the real
(laughs) I guess that depends… I have met people who think I am
completely crazy and would never even consider it because the
thought of skydiving is terrifying to them. But for those who may
be on the fence, I encourage them to get in touch with Skydive
Jersey or even go to the beach to see how things work. Most people
might be surprised to find out that they are not as scared as they
imagined they would be.
Freefall day, you were about to take off, how did you
I felt really nervous but extremely excited at the same time, I
knew I had to do it and get it right and this was my opportunity to
prove to my instructor that I was ready to take things to the next
level. After landing safely on the beach I was over the moon, it is
almost impossible to find words to describe how I felt, but it was
certainly a great sense of achievement!
Now the winter is coming are we right to assume that you
cannot jump in all weather conditions, what keeps you
That is right, I will not be able to continue with the practical
training however, skydiving is not just about jumping out of a
plane, there is so much more to learn! This winter I will be
concentrating on learning to pack parachutes, this is another
challenge and it is really important that we receive the right
training and take our time to learn.
Wow, that's all really incredible - just to finalise, what
is your ultimate goal?
I am not sure I have an ultimate goal as there are so many
different skydiving skills to try. As I do not like to rush things
I am going to continue with this type of training until I become a
qualified skydiver but I would say that my initial goal will be to
be able to do a 'dive exit' out of the plane!