Herts Ad reporter Monique takes the plunge
- Credit: Archant
Nothing can quite prepare you for falling 13,000 feet out of a plane. Ahead of my skydive on Saturday I had asked everyone I knew that had ever made the big jump what to expect, but no advice can really get you ready for the strange feeling of tumbling towards earth.
I had to wait around four hours at Hinton Airfield in Brackley before it was my turn to don a jumpsuit and step into a harness, and sure enough, as time went by, I got progressively more nervous. Although it was hard to tell whether this was fear or excited anticipation, as I had been waiting about 10 years to do one.
The main thing keeping me calm was the fact I was in very safe hands on the day of my dive. My instructor Simon Rushton was what I would consider a ‘pro’. He had completed over 8,000 skydives, roughly half of these were tandems, and he had even jumped from the astonishing height of 30,000 feet with the army.
Scary as a skydive is, it’s the instructors themselves that have to be brave and have the chutzpah to throw you both out of a teeny, tiny plane. For all they know you could have a major freakout and screw up the landing.
Ahead of the jump Simon refreshed the training basics with me, such as where I should put my arms, and kept me from slipping in to a weird ‘I can’t believe I’m about to do a skydive’ trance.
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I also met the skydiver who was going to be filming us, Stephen. You’d be amazed at how difficult it is to remember names at that current moment in time. Considering your life is in your tandem jumper’s hands, quite literally, they are one of the most important people you’ll ever meet, so it’s probably a good idea to remember their name.
Before I knew it, at 5.20pm on the dot, it was our time to go. Having watched about 100 people jump throughout the day – it was a World Record tandem skydive attempt – I was more than ready and a strange calm determination came over me.
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We hopped into the tiny Indiana Jones plane with two other tandem skydivers, and three solo jumpers. They pretty much just had a backpack on at this point and it looked like they were going out for the day.
This intrepid trio were laughing and chatting while they sat on the floor, as if they were just on a normal car ride, and actually put me more at ease – my logic being, if they had the fearlessness to jump out of a plane on their own surely I could let a professional jump for me?
The flight time was around 10 minutes and will remain one of my favourite parts of the whole experience. Breathtaking scenery greeted us as we climbed higher and higher and once the plane was above the ‘canopy’ the sky was extraordinarily clear and there was nothing but snow-like curls and clusters of cloud gilding our view.
The higher we rose, the more determined I was to make the leap of faith. Just before the jump Simon clipped me on to him, humoured me while I asked about 50 times whether or not the straps were tight enough, and shuffled me towards the door.
With my body pretty much hanging over the edge of the plane door there was nothing left to do but jump. Nothing I write will be able to explain the feeling you experience as soon as you start falling; I felt like my heart was in my throat, I didn’t know what direction was up or down and I wanted to cry and laugh all at the same time. I’m not going to lie, this first bit was actually horrible – I went upside down – but once we stabilised ourselves and begin freefalling the real fun started. I felt that nothing else mattered – and it really didn’t – you are literally on top of the world.
Once the parachute was open my instructor let me steer and we coasted in spirals and zigzags over the landscape which now resembled a cluster of tiny Lego villages from such a great height.
In all seriousness a skydive is probably the best thing I ever done in my entire life and I would urge anyone reading this to head to their nearest computer, find a local skydiving centre, and book a jump. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith in life – even if it’s in the most literal sense.
Monique was raising money for Rennie Grove Hospice Care as part of the skydive. To sponsor her visit www.justgiving.com/MoniqueHall