In October 2013, purely to get some attention, I tweeted that I was thinking about doing a skydive. Turns out that you can’t really say something like that and then not do it. It’s not on. At least I think that’s what happened, I can’t really remember. But anyway, the Internet made it alarmingly easy to signup for a skydive within a few clicks and without too much thought.
I set up a virgin giving page, said that I was pooing myself etc, and then I forgot about it. Because it was October, and my jump was in February, so it probably won’t even happen.
Do you remember the UK STORMS™? Yeah, well my jump was during that, so obviously it was cancelled.
It was rebooked. March 8th 2014. I had been thinking about it a lot and was getting increasingly stressed, but not particularly about jumping from a plane, it was more not knowing about the procedure when I arrived at the airfield – people, forms, following signs, answering questions.
Now, I am an adult man, but these are always the things that get me. I don’t really like appearing foolish, and get the impression that other people just kind of understand how things are done, and that somehow I am deficient. I play on this sometimes, as a coping mechanism, but it’s there. The thought of the social interaction with the receptionist at the airfield caused more anxiety than the jump itself.
Anyway, the alarm went off at 5am and we drove to our location. Because I am an idiot, I was expecting to be greeted with a miniature version of Heathrow, instead of what was there – a shed. We waited for a few hours, in the shed, and I had three poos. That was quite tiring, especially as I had to try to make them very quiet poos as more and more people came in. No one else seemed to be pooing. What was wrong with them?
And then to the training. We were told how to jump from the plane, and how to land on the ground. And then just to make sure we had been listening, we were asked to recreate these positions on the floor, in front of everyone. I failed to nail one of the moves, and was told to put my arms out in front of me, and not in the air, and that I wasn’t “raving in Manchester” now. I laughed at this, because I was nervous.
Anyway, after that we sat around for four hours. Four hours. Just sat around. And slowly, my stress dissipated as I became acclimatised to the people around me, and their quirks. They were all good people.
And then my name was called, I got into my jump suit, we walked to the holding pen, which was a bit odd, because everyone from the shed came out to look at us.
Then my jump buddy and I got into the plane, and sat on the floor, followed by two other people, and their jump buddies.
Now I usually hate flying, because it feels like everyone is purposely blind to the fact that we could crash. It feels odd, not natural. But sitting on the floor of a plane that looked like it could fall apart as we took off didn’t seem to pose a problem for me. There was something a little bit more honest about that.
And then something a little odd happened. Just before the hatch opened, the guy in front of me attempted a fist bump, but rather than bump him, I wrapped my hand around his fist and held it tight. He sort of did a double take, and then he jumped out the plane.
When it was my turn, there was no fear. I’m not trying to suggest I am fearless. I fear things, that has been established. But I was concentrating so hard on getting the exit position right, that’s all that was on my mind. As soon as you jump, it’s very calm. It’s noisy, but you sit on a cushion of air, it doesn’t really feel like you’re falling at all.
And then the umbrella goes up and it’s incredibly peaceful. The view is – I should say it’s amazing, but after a while I got a little bored. I am still a little astounded at this reaction. Anyway, it was quite windy and we were blown off course and landed in a parsnip field.
We were picked up by a couple of lads from the shed and driven back to the airfield. As I got into the van, the driver’s mate attempted a high five, and in my confusion, I nestled my fist into the palm of his hand.
Anyway, they gave me a certificate, and then I drove home.
7/10. Would not do again.