On July 1st I was able to cross off the biggest item on my bucket list; skydiving. It’s been the item that has sat at the top of the list patiently waiting, whilst I’ve bungee jumped, swam with dolphins and accomplished so much more.
We arrived late at Hinton Skydiving Centre, Northamptonshire, after a bit of traffic on the motorway had slowed our trip, but luckily they weren’t too bothered; they just moved me to a different group of people – the last tandems of the day, so we spent four hours waiting before it was my turn, nonetheless it was totally worth it.
Our group were called to meet our instructors. I met Bryan who had been jumping since he was 17 and had done hundreds upon hundreds of jumps. He got me kitted up and gave me a quick briefing (because I somehow managed to miss it?!) Then we walked to the plane, climbed aboard and we were off! It feels strange knowing you’re going up on a plane but not coming back down on one. The flight up is surprisingly loud as well, you have to almost shout at each other – there is no pressurisation either, but it’s still easy to breathe.
As you climb near to the 13,000ft mark the instructor attaches himself to you, let’s just say that it gets cosy… I was sat on his lap while he secured me in place, it’s so close you can feel his heart beat on your back. And as they’re about to open the door you put on your goggles – apparently you do this just before because they’ll steam up otherwise, which would most certainly ruin the view.
Four or five solo jumpers had soon jumped out and it was my turn, the first tandem to go. I wasn’t at all nervous… until I found my legs dangling out of a plane. You hang there, with your head leaning on the instructors neck, arms crossed like you’re in a casket and your legs outside of the plane. At that point I realised what I was doing – no going back. A quick nod from Bryan to the cameraman and we were gone.
I found it to be very disorientating as you spin and flip round falling out of the plane. The instructor releases a little chute called the ‘pilot’ and then you’re free-falling. It’s hard to describe the feeling; it’s surreal, beautiful, literally breath-taking and boggles the mind. Falling at 120MPH is something I’ve never felt before, I don’t remember if I even breathed as we fell. I didn’t really find it to be cold, but that’s the last thing on your mind. It’s also very loud; so loud that you hear nothing. Those movies where skydivers talk to each other? Not happening. I gave a few thumbs up to the cameraman who’s alongside us and then I took a moment to take in the scenery. It looks like you’ll fall into the cushiony softness of the clouds but you fall through them which makes it quite hard to see.
As we’re inside a cloud Bryan pulled the parachute and we begin to slow down, since I wasn’t expecting it I jumped a bit. It feels unreal hanging there in mid-air, taking off your goggles and looking down at the tiny houses.
My ear had popped due to the pressure and even now I can’t hear much, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying it. Bryan moved us around a bit which makes all of your blood rush to your feet, giving them the feeling that they’ll fall off – it’s actually really fun! It made me feel dizzy for a few moments, but it soon passes.
As I began to see my family who were waiting for me, I gave them a wave and they waved back. Coming into land I lifted my legs up, gently hitting the ground I was able to walk away. That was until Bryan stopped me saying he needed to check my harness etc – which I thought was weird since we’d just landed, but who was I to question him? – next thing I found myself on the ground, as he’d pushed me over. Supposedly he hasn’t done that for a while, a sign he liked me apparently!
Watching the DVD back and seeing the pictures you can see how amazing it is, but I know that nothing will match the true experience and I recommend that you go ahead and do it too! It’s an experience that – if you can – you should definitely try!
This will definitely be the first of many, when I’ve saved enough I’d like to learn to solo dive!