We arrived at the airfield at 12 in time to sign the forms and be briefed on what we have to do; it actually pretty simple to tandem skydive; you are strapped tightly to an experienced instructor, you hold on and don't get in their way! I was one of the last groups to go, but my husband and I got to go together so the wait was worth it! They also kindly filmed us for free (when I have the DVD of it I will let you see all the stupid expressions I am sure I pulled) and brought the two of us close enough in the air to talk. The phrase chance of a lifetime doesn't start to cover it!!
However back to the beginning; suited up and harnessed we travel up to 13,000ft in a small loud aircraft with a large sliding door on the side. Other jumpers are with us and when we reach the right altitude the door opens and they slip silently through the door and simply disappear! We shuffle along the benches closer to the door; most tandem jumpers will sit on the edge with instructor behind and work their way off the edge. We didn't; we hug from our harness and the guys we were strapped to leapt from the door, no hesitation, barely any warning; it was great! The air hits you physically and for the first few seconds you are battered every way you can imagine before the small stabilising shoot allows you to maintain a constant position. It doesn't feel like falling, more like being blown upwards such is the airpressure, it is difficult to catch your breath and truly take in the view you have. I can just about picture the cameraman falling nearby and filming me... I can't imagine what I must look like when my mind was blown away by it!
At 6,000ft they deploy the parachute... that's half way down but less than a minute into the fall!! A small jerk in a tight harness and then you are hanging above the world; a patchwork of fields, roads and rivers. Everything is tiny. The instructors know what they are doing though and this is no gentle tour, we spin and manoeuvre through the air, bringing me close to husband to speak, although I think I only managed to grin stupidly! I was also allowed to hold the additional controls and turn and stall the parachute before my instructor took charge for the landing. All this required of me was to lift my legs up out of the way and allow him to take the impact; easy.
|Thats us, top right!|
Some of the others were scared, I don't blame them, its a scary thing to fall from that height and to put your life in a strangers hands. I am really proud of them facing that fear and conquering it so spectacularly! I however didn't feel scared at all; I am not sure whether I have faced the scariest thing in life already and therefore I am unfazed or if I have a dark sense of mortality. To explain, I heard more than one person worry"what would you do if the parachute didn't open?'' Well there are reserves and such so this is unlikely but if the worst should happen I am pretty sure that falling from 13,000ft there really isn't anything you can do. You would it the ground hard and die. Does that sound scary? It doesn't to me, I have no desire to end my life now but I am more than aware that my life is due to end within the next year or two and not in a pleasant way if this kind of agressive cancer has anything to do with it. So, that said, quick death by fall, it just doesn't seem so bad to me. I couldn't say this to people at the time; one they don't like the truth, I can see it in their eyes when I make morbid jokes and second I don't want to take away from there achievement. It was harder for them, they have more to lose.
I did feel it afterward, I was lightheaded and shaky probably because my steroid levels that deal with stress are never quite balanced and because it does physically pound you. I could also feel the strain in my core muscle and my scar has a blood blister from the pull. Would I do it again? Yes and No; it would depend how fit I was but I like to think that I wouldn't turn away from the challenge!