North Pole's free fall parachute jump record, Shital
Mahajan readies for another record
The only way I could have gone into the record books was
by making it the first jump of my life
Jump queen, jump!
Dec 09, 2006
Shital Mahajan has quite a few records in her sights
In this `I want to be on television' generation, youngsters are
taking up unusual challenges. Shital Mahajan is no different.
This coming week the 24-year-old will make an accelerated free
fall parachute jump over the white continent of Antarctica.
Never before has any man or woman dared to make the first free
fall jump of life over the world's most demanding drop zone where
temperature ranges between minus 40 and minus 50 degrees Celsius.
"As a youngster, I wanted to be in news. First I thought
of talent shows where one has to dance or sing. Then one day I met
my friend's brother who is a squadron leader in the Indian Air Force.
He told me about parachute jumping. The concept excited me and I
decided to do it," says Shital before taking a flight to the
On December 10, she is supposed to start from Chille (Punta Arenas),
the last camp for the South Pole. Then she will take the jump according
to the weather conditions.
Her first target was to jump over the North Pole, which she successfully
completed in April 2004. Recently she has been awarded the Tenzing
Norgay National Adventure Award for the feat.
"I discovered that one Indian woman, Rachel Thomas has already
achieved the feat. So the only way I could have gone into the record
books was by making it the first jump of my life. I learnt that
Rachel had some 15 years of professional para jumping experience
before she undertook the North Pole expedition. I had never set
foot on an aircraft before taking the expedition."
The only advantage she had was that she was allowed to have a parachute
that opens automatically. There was no fear, she exclaims.
"Nobody had to push me, as I was waiting for the opportunity
This time, however, she has to open the parachute herself. "I
will jump from a height of 12000 feet and the parachute will open
after 4000 feet of free fall."
She will jump with two instructors who will be guiding her throughout
the free fall.
"The moments would be captured by experienced free fall cameraman
Mustafa Karampurwala through the camera attached to his helmet."
If she completes the feet, Shital says she will become the first
woman in the world to jump over both the poles without any practice.
Hailing from Pune, Shital, a student of BSc at Ferguson College,
shares that the expedition requires a lot of money.
"Tata Motors, where my father is employed, is sponsoring me.
Then I am using the National Award money. Also, I have taken an
education loan by mortgaging the house."
Talking of other challenges involved, Shital says during the first
jump she was supposed to wear seven layers of clothing. "This
caused skin problems, because you can't take out some layers even
in the tent. Thankfully, my brother is an Ayurveda doctor, so I
recovered soon. This time I am taking along silicon thermal wear,"
sums up Shital.
girl readies for North Pole odyssey
City girl readies for North Pole odyssey
PUNE, Mar 29, 2004
Shital Mahajan, a third-year B.Sc student of Fergusson College,
was bragging one day on the campus about the thrill of taking the
plunge — strap on a parachute, open up the hatch, jump out
of an airplane, feel life!
A friend then gave a counter-point. "You're crazy," he
said. "I can't believe you jump out of planes for fun. It's
so dangerous." Shital doesn't think so.
Spurred by the national record set by Squadron Leader Kamal Singh
Oberh of the IAF, Shital has decided to take a plunge, that too
above the North Pole, on April 12.
She will be the first Indian girl, perhaps the first girl in the
world, to make a maiden skydive on the Arctic Circle in sub-zero
temperatures. "One lady did it a few years ago, but she had
several earlier skydives to her credit. Mine would be a maiden jump
of my life," she told .
Shital was inspired by Sq. Ldr Kamal's feats and his subsequent
presentations in the city. An officer attached to the National Defence
Academy, Khadakwasla, he is the first Indian to go sky-diving on
both the poles — at South Pole in Antarctica on January 1,
2000, and at North Pole in Khatanga on April 20, 2002.
"I wanted to do something exceptional and Sq. Ldr. Kamal Singh's
video presentaion caught my eye," says Shital.
There was initial opposition from her middle-class family. But
she was able to persuade her parents as support from philantrophic
organisations came forth. She will be leaving for Longyearbyen (Slavbard)
in Norway on April 9 and will jump from an MI-8 helicopter from
the Ice Base on April 12.
Since this would be her first jump, she would make a static-line
skydive, where the canopy (parachute) opens by itself, the moment
one jumps out of an aircraft. Prior to that, she will go to the
Parachute Regiment Centre, Bangalore, for a two-day ground and basic
training on simulators.
The expedition will cost Shital a bomb — approximately Rs
13 lakh. But she has been working hard for six months. So far, she
has garnered around Rs 9 lakh.