Today, I did a tandem skydive to raise money for the RNIB.
IT WAS AMAZING!!!
I was originally meant to do my skydive back in April, however a problem with volcanic ash had closed all airspace over England, meaning it had to be cancelled. So I rebooked for today, but yesterday afternoon/evening it was announced that the same ash cloud was heading back towards the UK and airspace could be closed again from 7am. Argh! This time, though, I couldn’t get through to the parachute school I was skydiving with so we set off anyway – wondering whether I’d get to jump this time or not.
As you can tell, I did get to do my skydive today – but only just! This morning the weather forecast looked bad – heavy cloud and some rain might not make the jumps possible. And then, around mid-morning, it was announced that airspace around us (covered by East Midlands Airport Air Traffic Control) would close at 1pm… all was not certain. But thankfully I was put on the second plane and so did my jump at around 11am this morning.
Here I am in my flying suit before I had to sign my life away:
Let me go through what happened…
We arrived at Skydive Langar, near Nottingham, at about 8.30am this morning. We then had to wait for everyone to arrive before we had a 20 minute briefing about the skydive, what to expect, and what we should be doing when. The different positions were explained, as were the harnesses and some safety information. It all seemed straight forward, the instructor seemed very knowledgable, and every one of the 15 or so people in the room sat and listened carefully as we were all doing this for the first time.
Then it was time to wait. By this time (about 9.30am) they had been given the ok to start jumping at 10am, and so the first three people to jump got into their flying suits. Each “cycle” (getting ready, into the aircraft, getting to 12,500 feet, jumping, landing and packing away the parachutes) takes about an hour… I was really hoping mine would be sooner rather than later! It seemed a really long time until my name was called, but when it was I dutifully put on the massive flying suit (two sizes – too big or too small!) and waited for the instructor to whom I would be strapped to land and pack away his parachute before I could get harnessed up.
My instructor was Scotty, who was great. He helped me get my harness on and explained again what would be happening. From then it all happened really quickly. We climbed into the aeroplane and sat in rows ready to take off.
It took about 20 minutes to reach 12,500 feet, which was taken up getting some more instructions, chatting about what we should expect, messing around a bit for the camera (one of the four skydivers in the group was having a DVD done of his experience), looking out the window admiring the view, and worrying about what was about to happen! It did feel like a long flight, and was the smallest aeroplane I’ve ever been in.
At 12,500 feet the door was opened and we took in it turn to jump. I was expecting to feel extremely nervous when I was at the door, but really there was no time for that. We shuffled our way to the door, I put my legs out so they were dangling outside the aircraft, crossed my arms, put my head back, and Scotty pushed us out into freefall. We were advised to scream or shout as we left the aeroplane to force us to exhale to help us to breathe in the first part of freefall – so I obliged of course!
Freefall lasted around 45-50 seconds and was totally amazing. I’m told we reached speeds of 120-130mph, and it was a total adrenaline rush. The wind was really loud and while the ground didn’t rush towards us by any means, I certainly felt like I was moving fast through the air. I made an effort to look around and was glad I did, and I think I continued to scream and shout – that’s just how I felt at the time.
After that minute or so everything suddently went quiet and we slowed down alot – the parachute had opened (yay!). Apparently we went from 120-130mph to 20mph in about 3 seconds. The change from a noisy fast Alton Towers ride to a calm and gentle floating sensation was incredible. Time to relax.
We had a really good look around – the sky was really clear and we could see a long way. The fields looked tiny, we could see towns and villages for miles around, and it was stunning. Scotty let me take hold of the parachute steering straps which gave me a real feeling of power and control over what was happening. We did a few spins which were fantastic fun. The earth looks amazing from the air.
As the ground started to get closer, and probably about 3-4 minutes into the skydive, it was time to get ready to land.
Scotty took back the controls and set us up for the landing spot at Langar airfield. Now the ground was getting close really quite quickly and it wasn’t long until I was given the instruction to lift up my knees so Scotty could execute the perfect landing.
And that was it. We waited for the others to land, sorted out the parachute and headed back into the building.
Anyone who knows me knows that I like an adventure, and this was definitely one of those. It was totally incredible, an experience I will never forget, and something I would recommend everyone doing if they get the chance – it really can’t be described. I now have my certificate to prove I’ve done it, and that is something I will cherish.
But of course I didn’t only do this for myself. I did it to raise money for a cause close to my heart – the RNIB. I am very pleased to have been able to raise £400 by doing this skydive, and must thank every single person who has sponsored me for your support.
If you have sponsored me and you haven’t already let me have the money I’m now going to need it from you within the next month please… thank you. If you haven’t sponsored me but would like to donate now you know I’ve gone through with it, I am more than happy to make that total even more!!
To read about why I did this skydive to raise money for RNIB see this post.
Wow, what a morning – what an experience – now what should I do next?!