After a nail biting time waiting to see whether the rain would clear on Saturday morning, we finally took to the sky to jump from 13,000 ft; raising at least £4,000 for Canine Partners and Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day ’09 campaign!
Forecasts were bad for Saturday’s weather; casting doubts on whether the jump would be going ahead. Postponement of the jump was discussed on the Friday as a large number of people from all corners of the country were due to come and watch. However, it was decided that we should risk it and to go to the airbase on Saturday.
I got little sleep on Friday night; waking up at 0400 hrs in the morning and worrying about the success of the day ahead. On the way up to Oxfordshire, the weather looked uncertain. The sky was filled with low grey clouds with tiny hints of sun shining through.
However, on arrival, the instructors were very doubtful about the jump happening. To an extent, this served as a comfort thinking I wasn’t going to jump out of a flying plane at 13,000 ft that day! On the other hand, I was painfully aware that as the wet morning went on, more and more people were arriving with the hope of watching me and Michelle skydive.
After three hours of waiting in hope of good weather, we started thinking about postponing the jump as the chances still looked bleak. By then, my bladder was getting pretty full so I wondered off to the toilet. Suddenly, one of the instructors shouted “we’re on!” I began to quick march to the toilet where I found out that the light didn’t work. The pressure was on and I eventually decided to try to do my business with the door open to provide enough light for me to be able to see what I was doing. Going to the toilet under pressure whilst being called is not one of my stronger points!
So with only being able to squeeze a drop out, I had to rush all the way back to the briefing area to get kitted up.
My nerves started to go wild. After getting kitted up, I was rushed to the roaring plane which was going to take me up. The plane ride up was the worst stage. I had to sit on the floor of a rickety plane in between my instructors legs. I was able to see through the clear Perspex door and noticed the ground quickly disappearing from underneath the old aircraft.
I started seeing what appeared to be smoke coming from the engine! But I soon realised that this “smoke” was the start of the clouds which we were quickly flying through. I could feel pressure building up in my head which I found easy to release through doing a series of yawns.
The time quickly passed, and before I knew it, I was sitting on the edge of the plane with my feet dangling above the fluffy bed of white cloud below. It was like being in another realm where the ground appeared to be made out of “marshmellowey goodness”. I went into a state of acceptance of what was to come – I was nervous but I did not react to that feeling knowing it would be pointless and may have put our safety in jeopardy.
When we left the plane and started plunging down through the clouds, I had to maintain my cool and remember to breathe despite the blast of cold air continually blowing in my face. I saw a rush of cloud whizzing across my face as I cut through the white bed of clouds. I quickly forgot about my full bladder! After ten seconds of free fall at 9m per second, I saw the ground below as the clouds opened up.
We suddenly got jolted upwards at which point I thought something was going drastically wrong. It took me a few seconds for me to get my bearings after doing lots of twists and turns. I then realised that this jolt was the parachute opening up after which everything went silent and I found myself surveying the ground below.
It felt as if we were being suspended in the air even though I knew we were going down still – like being on the London Eye or bouncing on cling film – to tenuously make a far out comparison!
Everything on the ground appeared very small and relatively insignificant in comparison to my view of the ground from that height! I was in awe of the vast landscape below me whilst occasionally saying “oh my god – it’s amazing!”
I was surprisingly confident enough to wave at the spectators on the ground as we came into landing which went perfectly. My legs were not in any danger as they were strapped to the legs of my instructor who also put his feet under my feet during touch-down.
After doing the jump, I cannot believe that it took almost three years to get the medical consent. Doing a tandem skydive is pretty straight forward – all you have to do is relax and enjoy the jump as the tandem master operates the parachute.
I would like to say a massive thank you to Steve Scott and his colleagues at Skydive Weston who made this jump possible.
Now – the challenge is to collect the sponsorships from our amazing sponsors.
Although I haven’t calculated the total amount of money raised, I can confidently say that we’ve reach our target of £4,000!
I also eventually emptied my bladder four hours after – what a relief!