Not Too Old To Sky Dive

Carol – Contributer

January 2017

Read this awe inspiring story about Carol, her first Sky Diving experience and reaching for the clouds.

I’d never wanted to do a sky dive, not through any fear, simply a disinterest, and then I’d really been put off by an old boyfriend who had skydived and was always going on about it. However, following a difficult year, I’d been pursuing activities which may just make my heart beat a little faster, purely to make me feel that I was actually living.  A sky dive was just one of those things. I woke up one morning and just decided to do a jump. I wanted the rush which I imagined throwing myself out of a plane would give me.

As I was untrained, I had to tandem jump, attached to an instructor. On the day of the dive, I can honestly say I felt no fear. The other jumpers were saying how nervous they were, but I didn’t feel the slightest nerve.  We had our briefing, which went through the basics of positioning and breathing, and dressed in our suits. Still no fear!  There was a delay in going up, as the plane wouldn’t start, something which others saw as a portent, but I saw as an annoyance, as who would believe me if I said I hadn’t done the jump due to engine failure? People would have thought I had wimped out. I was doing that dive!

Eventually the plane was fixed and ready.  For my flight, I went up with two other tandems and a number of solo divers.  Squashed in and already attached to my instructor, the flight up to jumping altitude was quite uncomfortable, especially as it became colder in the plane the higher we got. Still no fear!

When the plane reached 12,000 feet, the shutter door was opened and the solo divers readied themselves. I was to be the first tandem going after the solos. I was not ready for the speed at which the solos jumped, thinking there would be at least a minute or two between each, however, they were out literally one after the other. Then it was my turn!

Carol First Sky Dive

When my instructor tapped me on the shoulder to indicate my turn, I did experience the slightest ‘OMG, I’m going to have to do this’ moment, and at that moment, I was glad to be doing a tandem, as I doubted I could have thrown myself out. My instruction had been that when my turn came, to shuffle over to the side of the plane on my knees and to perch on the side with my legs dangling out, cross my arms over my chest and keep my head back.  However, once hanging from the plane, I found I just kept looking down. I was fascinated by the sight of the ground so far below me and amazed by seeing the curvature of the earth ahead of me.
The exit from the plane occurred seconds later.  One minute I was dangling from the instructor, off the side of the plane, the next I was upside down in mid air, hurtling towards the earth.  We had been instructed to shout out a word on leaving the plane, as this apparently regulates your breathing.  I had been trying to think of a clever word, but when the time came, all I managed was an ‘Oh’.  This was however closely followed by an ‘Oh my God’ and a scream of delight.
We remained upside down literally seconds before we assumed the traditional freefall position.  The strange thing for me was that in the freefall position I didn’t feel as if I was falling, instead, I felt that the earth was coming up to meet me.  I found it difficult to discern the speed at which we were travelling, or that we were moving at all.  I was just amazed at how the earth appeared to be getting closer to me. 
We were not in freefall for long, before the instructor pulled the parachute and we drifted the rest of the way to the ground.  At this stage, I was given the parachute control levers and was able to guide the chute for a while, which was interesting, being able to take our flight in any direction. Although enjoyable, I didn’t do this for long, it felt like a little too much responsibility for me, as I couldn’t see the point on the ground my instructor kept trying to point out as being the landing area which we should head towards.  I was worried we would end up in some random field. 
The instruction for the landing I did remember ‘hoist your feet up’! The landing was smooth, and we landed on our feet.  My first words on landing were ‘Was that it?’, as it felt the dive was over very very quickly.  I am not sure I would do another sky dive, maybe a line dive, where apparently you do get to throw yourself off the plane.  I am glad to have experienced it though.  However, I am still looking for that thing which makes my heart beat a little bit faster.

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