Thursday, 20 August 2015

Skydiving - Free falling from 15,000 feet is truely awesome!

Well it was always inevitable that I would blog about my totally awesome skydive experience, It was really just about when I would find the time to sit down and write it - so from the beginning .....

I have a habit of talking myself into doing all sorts of things when I'm out having a drink with friends and around about this time last year was definitely one of them.  
Several of us were trying to come up with a special present idea for my friend Jayne's 40th birthday, and me being me, came out with "I would really have liked to have done something memorable like a parachute jump - something awesome that you would never normally do".  So after much deliberation, as non of the others were keen, we finally bought her a tandem skydive present and then guess who was instantly chosen to jump with her for moral support :)
The perfect duo 
We had a year to get the skydive done but both of us decided to wait until the summer for the warmer weather.  I think we were just trying to delay the inevitable for as long as possible, but after some gentle pressure from our other friends involved we finally got our act together and booked our jump.  
Go Skydive at Old Sarum were very helpful and easy to deal with.  Within minutes we were booked in for 2 x 10,000ft tandem skydives on Sat July 18th at 2pm and there was no going back.  Suddenly I felt impending doom and a bit panicky as the reality was starting to kick in - we were going to be throwing ourselves (with help) out of a plane!  I soon got over it though and after talking to people about skydives that they had all done; I soon realised that I really should upgrade to 15,000ft to max the whole experience because it was going to be a once in a lifetime experience lol.

After booking I started to think that maybe I should actually be doing this for a charity as it's quite a big deal in most people's eyes and about 2 months ago a friend's husband suffered a life threatening stroke which he is still slowly recovering from now, but thankfully is doing well.  Also at roughly the same time the husband of another friend was diagnosed with Epilepsy which for him is also life changing and because of this the wives of these two started to organise a village charity event to raise awareness and money for both of these lesser known charities, which is taking place this Friday 21st August at Lyndhurst Workmens Club from 11.00am - late and everyone is welcome.  
Charlie Binder x

On top of that I lost my Dad after he suffered several strokes, 
which each time robbed him and us of a bit more of him until he was just trapped inside his own body and stuck in a nursing home.  It was a horrible way for him to end up and if anything could have been done to prevent it - you certainly wouldn't think twice.  Unfortunately it was too long ago for my Dad, but with someone else close by suffering from the same horrible condition and at a much younger age, it suddenly became clear to me that I should support and help my friends raise money for their charities and I chose to dedicate my jump to the memory of my Dad x 
I had left it a bit late really but in about 2 weeks I managed to raise £165.00 for Epilepsy Research UK and £421.41 for Stroke Association - not too shabby!

The days leading up to the jump were all a bit surreal really the more I talked about it the more excited I was getting - no fear at all, but I did decide that this was probably a good time to write a will, just in case :)
Anyway that morning was a bit crazy, I got up for breakfast as usual which was fun.  The guests were almost as excited as me, and we joked about it all which was all fine, but then when they had gone I started to wobble big time.  I started to feel sick and shaky and I was wondering what the hell I was doing!

The evening before I had with the help of friends on Facebook created a play list that was fitting for the days events so as soon as we got in the car we started to play the songs and everything was cool.  We were laughing, joking and having fun.  The airfield was really easy to find and as soon as we got close you could see the other skydivers all coming down - it was a great sight.
We checked in which again was all very easy and then waited for our slot in the training room.  The facilities there are very good and the atmosphere was buzzing with people ranging from those who were waiting to jump, the spectators and those who had just jumped. 
 After about 30mins we were called up.  The initial training was a good mixture of important information, motivation, encouragement,  fun and light hearted explanations of what exactly to expect.   The next stage ordinarily is for you to go and sit around waiting for the next flight, but that didn't happen to us.  Instead one of the team came over and said that our package (Jayne, me & my photographer) was perfect to fill the current plane - if we were ok with that.  So rather than delaying the inevitable any longer we both looked at each other and said "yes, why not!?"  So off we went.  
I had asked if we could go to the toilet quick first but we were just whisked off - straight in to flight suits and final practical training; practising what we had just been told in the previous room whilst hanging from straps.  Once all the gear was on there was no way I was going toilet, luckily it was just that nervous need for a wee and not an actual need.  
Finally we moved on to the departure lounge and once I got out there I was fine, the noise of the plane was really loud but the buzz out there was great, I felt a bit special like a star or something. 
We both had our families there to watch 
My kids joining in the limelight 
and also our friends Claire and Rachel with their children.  They were all eager to film and take photographs and luckily they had realised that we had been pulled forward to the awaiting plane, as we had left them down the other end of the field when we first went in.  All was good though, they were there with us and managed to get some pictures.  I had a short interview with my camera lady because I had not only upgraded to 15,000ft but I also added on the video package. 
 I thought if I'm doing this for charity I need to have some evidence that I did actually do it.  Lee - my instructor kept chatting to me, reassuring me and making sure I was not about to panic, but I was fine, I just put all my trust in him.
He was very quietly confident which was calming, he was frequently checking/adjusting my equipment and as he'd already done something like 5,000 jumps I thought he should know what he's doing :)

No going back now 
Unfortunately for Jayne she went on the plane almost first, so that meant she was almost last jumping out, but because we had a camera lady we were near the front.  There were 3 others in front of us but for the flight we were right by the door which was amazing.  As we started off I was able to wave at all our gang on the ground but obviously for safety reasons they do have to close the door until you almost reach altitude.  For most of the ascent  my video was running, catching all the emotions and reactions all the time but because of the noise inside the plane it was a strange quiet time.  A few more equipment checks, then your straps all get seriously tightened to the point that you become part of your instructor & goggles on.  When the door opened again it was amazing - I could see everything.  I watched as each tandem pair sat on the edge of the plane then just fell out, it was incredible and in no way scary.  

Then in a flash it was our turn.  My camera lady went first and apparently clung to the side of the plane ready and waiting to film me coming out, but sadly I didn't realise, I was so intent on following my training instructions because otherwise I would have looked and waved at the camera - this is my only regret about the entire experience but it is only a tiny regret.  
Let's go!
Then we were on the edge of the plane, I had a quick look down and thought "yes that's ok", got into my position and then like in slow motion we leant forward and was out.  We tumbled a bit and then once we levelled it was just like we were floating.   
I'm not exactly sure how to begin to express in words how the next 70ish seconds of free fall felt but it was THE best thing ever, something like: awesome, exhilarating, loud, breathtaking - literally, fast, timeless, rushing, intense, extreme, amazing & fun.  
It's weird because it's only a minute of your life but it feels like 10! and you don't feel like your falling at all, it's just like your staying still but you spin around slowly and there's just this real rushing force pushing against you, distorting your skin & face, drying your mouth out and it's sooo loud.

Just as you never want this feeling to end suddenly you get yanked by the parachute deploying, which feels like someone just slammed the breaks on and suddenly turned the sound off!  It is a ride of 2 halves and total extremes.  You go from about 125mph to what feels like 5mph in seconds, but the gliding down under parachute is also amazing.  You now get the chance to take it all in - the view is stunning, the quietness is lovely and serene and you can actually chat to each other too.  I could clearly see the New Forest National Park and the Isle Of Wight which looked great - the weather was beautiful.   Lee asked if I was up for a few turns and took us on a bit of a spiral which was great fun - you do pick up a lot of speed when they do that giving you a different buzz, a bit like a roller coaster, but unfortunately you do come down quicker too.  It is all over way too quickly and before your down you just start wishing it could last forever.  Way too soon we were getting ready for our landing but I have to say even that was fun because you really pick up speed again just before you hit the ground, which is like a last buzz to finish your experience before your down, and our landing - thanks to Lee, was amazing.  I just sat on his lap and we slid in to a perfect stop - absolutely awesome. 
I am now completely hooked and if I could have, I would have got straight back in that plane and done it all over again. 
I can't find enough superlatives for this whole experience and also for my amazing instructor, all I can say is that I have a new hero :)
 I was on such a high for at least a week and I still get a buzz now when I think back and remember - it's something that will stay with me forever. 
The whole team at Go Skydive are great, friendly, helpful and a pleasure to deal with but the one that I would really like to thank for the most awesome experience of my lifetime; is Lee - Thank you so so much!  I will be back :)

Also just to add that I am so glad that I bought the video package as now I can watch it when ever I want and it's like I'm re-living the whole thing over & over again.

Everyone should give this a go, you really don't know what you are missing.  It's not scary at all.  They are very thorough and professional at Go Skydive - they do it all for you and you just get to enjoy the ride!

So go on - do it:)
Mel x