In order to tick another item off my bucket list I asked OH for a skydive for my birthday (it’s the 9th – I like wine). Reluctantly he agreed, arguing he didn’t want to watch the love of his life launch herself out of a perfectly working plane and plummet towards earth, nevermind paying for the privilege.
I did attempt to do it a couple of weeks ago but low clouds and the normal dreich Scottish weather prevented me. However, yesterday saw blue skies over the grass runway of Strathallan Airfield so things were looking good for me to do a tandem skydive.
First off, I had to practice the stance to leave the Cesna – head back, legs tucked under the plane and arms folded. Then the position for landing – hands under knees and legs up. I then had loads of disclaimer forms to fill in.
After that the morning dragged as I watched others go up in the little doorless plane and jump out. There was a small flurry of activity when a tandem jumper landed in a faraway field instead of the airfield and the emergency rescue vehicle had to dash off to pick them up. Apparently they had been let out at the wrong point and blown off course.
Eventually, it was my turn and I had to go get kitted up in a ski-suit, harness and very fetching helmet and have another practice doing the landing position, this time whilst suspended from a platform.
As we waited for the plane to land I watched another tandem land and boy did they come down with a thump.
“Will we land like that?”
“I hope not,” replied Eddie, the guy I was going to be secured to as I did my free fall. By the time the plane came back into land the other guy was still on the ground and a quad was heading out to pick him up. Prior to this I hadn’t been that nervous but seeing their sudden landing did shake me.
I then sat on the edge of the plane whilst Eddie hooked me up to him. We then edged our way back into the plane sliding backwards on our bums. The cameraman, George, joined us and another 2 parachutists who were going to be jumping out before us.
Sandy explained he had to lean over me as we took off so his weight would be at the front of the plane. As he pushed his knee between my legs, Eddie held on to his harness to stop him falling out the plane too early. So like sardines, the five of us all squashed up into the front of the plane to allow it to taxi along the runway and take off.
The views were amazing as we flew higher and higher. Green fields and orange trees got smaller and smaller as we climbed to an altitude where the 2 parachutists were going to jump out. They got into position and suddenly they were out and falling fast. My stomach lurched as I tried to lean out the plane to watch them fall.
It didn’t take long for us to get to 10,000 ft and for it to be our turn to jump. Eddie urged me forwards and before I knew it I was dangling right out of the airplane as he sat on the edge. George was half in half out. Ready, Steady Go. Suddenly I was out and screaming as we hurtled downward. The ear-piercing shriek was completely involuntary and I had no idea I was even capable of making that noise. The ground spiraled below and the air rushed past me. Thankfully I managed to stop yelling and take in the exhilarating feeling. What a rush. Eddie tapped my arm and (I like to think) made the classic skydiving arched back arms out pose. I looked for the cameraman but couldn’t see him as we plunged downward. On one hand it felt like we were in freefall for an age but it also felt like it was hardly any time at all before our chute opened and I was upright once more looking over the countryside below. I looked down and saw George having a great time spinning out below me.
On the way down Eddie asked me if I wanted to do a spin. Oh yes please. He whipped us round in a sweeping circle. The ground rapidly rotated beneath me as we sped round. It was incredible!
I could see the airfield beneath me getting closer and Eddie got me to lift my legs up. Then thump. We landed. On our bums. I’d like to say it was a soft landing but it wasn’t.
Unhooked from one another we got up and started to gather the chute. George landed behind us and the 3 of us walked back to the hangar where OH, Mini-him and Teeny-Me were waiting.
After getting out of the ski-suit and harness I headed into the office to finish off the paperwork. A bloke there asked if I had enjoyed it. When I replied I loved it he offered me a £1 if I could tell him what was so great about it. I couldn’t answer then but I have been thinking about it since and now I think it’s having the feeling you’re surely about to die but then realising you’re actually completely and utterly alive.
I know you want to ask if I would do it again. Oh hell yeah!