Haig’s fear of heights diminishes as she continues to skydive

From left to right – top row: Jonathan, Chuck and Angela and bottom row: Alex, Scotia and Tyler. They dressed up in onesies to celebrate Jonathan and Angela’s 400th jumps – Photo provided by Jonathan Tessier

“Oh my god, what did I get myself into,” were the thoughts racing through 16-year-old Scotia Haig’s mind back in 2016 when she was in the airplane ready to do her first tandem skydive at GO Skydive in Gatineau, Quebec.

But as soon as Haig and the instructor she was strapped to made it through the plane door and started freefalling toward the ground, she had an entirely new spiel of thoughts in her mind.

“Oh my gosh, this is the best thing ever.”

Following her first tandem jump in 2016, Haig was hooked to the sport. And the summer she turned 18, she made the decision to learn to become solo certified.

Scotia and Tyler freefalling during their onesie jump – Photo provided by Scotia Haig

The solo skydiver course, which is called Progressive Freefall Program, is the course each new skydiver has to do if they want to become certified to jump solo.

Throughout the course, the skydiver has to complete nine total jumps while having to do certain requirements during each jump while they are accompanied by instructors.

“I am actually a rare case, because most people can finish it in a couple weeks, or maybe a month, or maybe over a season, but because I started it so late in the season, it actually took me two skydiving seasons.

Once Haig was fully certified in early summer of 2019, she was able to start training for her licenses. Skydiving has licenses from A-D. A being the lowest license and D being the highest.

Scotia and Tyler when they jumped at Burnaby Skydiving in October of 2020 – Photo provided by Scotia Haig

Haig currently has her C license as most skydivers usually get their C around 200 jumps. She got her C license this year at almost exactly 200 jumps and now has about 260 jumps.

In order to be qualified for her D license, she’ll need a minimum of 500 jumps and to have been qualified in all the requirements for the other licenses.

Due to having her C license, Haig can jump with big groups of people, she can jump in higher winds than students can, as well as being able to do most tricks and formations in the air.

Scotia recently finished her final semester of university – Photo by Kassia Skorzewska

As someone who is scared of heights, Haig made the decision to go skydiving in the first place because of her fear, and now that she’s been jumping for about three to four years, her fear has diminished.

“Because I’m a skydiver I guess I’m over it a little bit because I’m so used to jumping out of the plane, but there’s times when I’m rock-climbing and stuff, and I’ll look down, and I’ll still get that feeling of fear,” she explained.

Scotia during her 100th jump back in 2020 – Photo provided by Scotia Haig

When Haig was about to jump solo for the first time in 2018, her mind wasn’t really focused on how it was her first solo jump, she was more focused on thinking about everything she needed to do.

“Honestly, I don’t remember my first solo jump, because I think you’re just so overwhelmed and your mind is just racing, and you’re super excited, but you’re also very nervous, so it kind of all goes by so quickly because you’re thinking about so many different things,” Haig said.

“The biggest obstacle is getting yourself to jump out of the plane and once you’re in freefall you realize that it’s fun, and you have the instructors there, so obviously that’s pretty comforting knowing you have other really experienced people jumping with you that will hold onto you,” she added.

Scotia coming in to land from a jump – Photo by Melanie Campeau

Due to her fear of heights, Haig really enjoyed the part of the course where she started doing flips to exit out of the plane door.

“Before you do the flips out of the plane, you kind of have to be at the edge of the door, and as I told you, I was super scared of heights, so I didn’t really like hanging out the door,” Haig reminisced.

“So, I really liked the quick exits because I could just go from being safe in the plane to just in freefall, which I already loved and I could skip the part that scared me.”

As skydiving is such a complex and unique sport, there is always something a jumper can improve on, so to help with that, tandem instructors at GO Skydive will do coaching jumps with the regular jumpers there and help them improve on skills they want to improve on or learn.

From left to right: Jonathan Tessier, Scotia Haig, Tyler Evans, Melanie Campeau and Brad Amberley at GO Skydive on October 8, 2021 – Photo by Kassia Skorzewska

With Haig being a smaller and lighter person than the people she jumps with, she practices how to compensate for the weight difference on who she is jumping with so she can fly at the same level they’re flying at.

“When you’re doing a coaching jump with someone, usually they’ll ask you what you want to work on, or maybe they’ll have jumped with you before and they’ve seen something that you can do better and they’ll kind of tell you what they want to do,” Haig explained.

“Once you decide that, they’re all super experienced and they can usually give you tips on how to position your body better to achieve a certain flight position and they’ll demonstrate on the ground and explain what you have to do, and even in the sky, what they’ll normally do is they’ll show you one time and then you’ll kind of imitate them, and of course you can’t talk to each other in freefall so they’ll debrief you once you land and then you have to go try it again,” she added.

Scotia posing for a photo after landing from a jump – Photo by Melanie Campeau

So far, Haig has only ever jumped with 14 people in formation, but due to being used to jumping 4-way, she usually does formations with three other people.

One of Haig’s favourite tricks to exit out of the plane is a wagon wheel.

“We’ll kind of all position ourselves kind of in a circle, and everyone will be grabbing on to another person’s legs. And we’ll try to roll that out of the plane, and that’s pretty cool. Doesn’t always work, but it’s fun to try,” Haig explained.

Due to a skydiving plane being small and only fitting 16 people, Haig has described the process of setting up a wagon wheel “awkward.”

“Normally it depends on how many people we’re trying to do it with but normally someone will sit on the floor and will try to get as close to the door as they can, and everyone else will kind of stand up,” she said.

“Luckily you’re not in that position for too long, and once you’re out of the plane, you can kind of stretch it out and make it into a bigger circle,” she added.

And when a wagon wheel doesn’t always work, they have had times where people have fallen out of the plane door prematurely.

“That is an exit where I’ve seen a couple people fall out early including myself. But usually when that happens, the other people in the group can tell and they just leave early with the person that is falling,” Haig said.

Scotia freefalling with Hari, one of the tandem instructors at GO Skydive – Photo provided by Scotia Haig

Haig also loves the whole feeling of freefall as well because other than practicing in a wind tunnel, the sky is the only place you can experience the feeling.

“I’m just thinking about how it’s so unique. It’s kind of like a feeling of weightlessness, I don’t know if that’s the right word to use, but just being able to do so many things you can’t replicate on the ground,” Haig said.

Aside from skydiving, Scotia also enjoys scuba diving and rock climbing – Photo by Kassia Skorzewska

Haig also works at the drop zone where she jumps. She started working at GO Skydive in 2018 when she started the solo course, and due to that, she is usually at the drop zone from May to October whenever the weather is nice and they’re open.

“I am what’s called ground crew, so I normally help out with tandems and everything, so putting the tandems in their harnesses, driving everyone to the plane, and then just general stuff, you know, if the tandem instructors need help switching out video cards, or getting the rigs ready,” Haig explained.

Throughout her time skydiving, Haig has made some lifelong friends and explains the drop zone feeling like a “tightknit community.”

Scotia, Tyler and other jumpers flying through a hula hoop while freefalling – Photo provided by Scotia Haig

Two such friends who she jumps with are Tyler Evans and Jonathan Tessier.

Haig met Evans in the summer of 2020 when he came to the drop zone and she noticed his scuba diving shirt and commented on it.

“So, she came up to me and asked me about my shirt, and we kind of kicked it off from there. I invited her on one of our jumps, and we went scuba diving together and stuff,” Evans recalled.

https://www.facebook.com/tyler.evans.184881/videos/176773764433181

Since then, Evans and Haig have done many jumps together from the air to the water.

“I think the coolest thing about Scotia is probably that she has all these fears and she’ll voice them quite a bit, but she doesn’t let them hold her back, so I think her biggest personality trait is she’s very courageous,” Evans said.

Tessier, on the other hand, was already jumping at GO Skydive before Haig came along in 2018.

“The most interesting thing about jumping with Scotia is her positive attitude. It goes a long way when you plan difficult jumps. Scotia enjoys the same type of skydiving I do, so it makes it fun,” Tessier explained.

Recently, Haig, Evans and Tessier along with three other people, went jumping in onesies to celebrate Tessier and another skydiver’s milestone of 400 jumps.

They don’t do onesie jumps too often, but when they do, Haig really enjoys them.

“Mostly just how it’s super laid back and fun, and everybody looks kind of funny, especially in freefall everyone is used to their regular jump suits that fly a certain way in the air, so when you switch to something that you don’t jump in very often, it feels a little bit awkward and that’s always a little funny too to watch your friends not in their element as much as normal,” Haig said.

Scotia jumping out of the door of the plane during the onesie jump – Photo provided by Scotia Haig

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s