IS THE LIMIT FOR SUNSHINE'S DYNAMIC DUO,
MIKE PARKER & LAURA TREMELLING!
14 August 2010:
at South Cerney Skydive Centre
– we’re told about the harness and I’m pleased
to learn that there is a backup system if the instructor I’m
strapped to goes to sleep on the way down. We also learn the drill
for exiting the aircraft, the body position to adopt for the ‘freefall’
section and technique for landing (we land on our backsides –
shame I had to lose weight to do this, the extra padding on the
gluteus maximus might have been useful!).
Told we won’t
be going up for at least a couple of hours while waiting for a break
in the weather. It brightened up around lunchtime but the weather
fronts are too close together, it would be difficult to ‘hit
the gap’ and apparently going through rainclouds isn’t
fun so we stay on the ground. Weather deteriorates even more during
the afternoon so by 4pm we’re on our way home again.
to DZ (drop zone – getting the hang of the jargon now!)
and things are looking good as the first batch of jumpers are told
to get ready immediately. Outside it looks too cloudy to me but
they go up and we can see the plane against the cloudy backdrop
as they exit and all come down safely.
my turn, Laura (also from Sunshine Radio, the charity we’re
raising money for) is allocated a place on ‘lift 5’.
Watch her go up and then wait for her at the gate to the landing
area, hear her talking to the instructor as she nears the ground.
Does nothing make this woman speechless?!
I get a place
on ‘lift 8’ and get kitted up. While I’m doing
this one of the instructors says there may be a delay on the lift
as a pigeon has struck the aircraft and it has to be checked before
we can go. All checked and we can go (pigeon pie anyone?). Ash,
my instructor says we need to get into the minibus
to take us to the plane. We’re sitting there for a few minutes
when I spot the pilot having his lunch so another delay (not that
I begrudge him his break). Ten minutes later and we’re on
our way to the plane. Some repairs to the aircraft are carried out
and as we have the wrong size screws for the job gaffer tape is
used (confidence inspiring – not).
All aboard –
we’re the first ones out so get in last, sitting on the floor
next to the door. Climb ever higher and I start to get nervous as
the people on the ground become invisible to the naked eye and cars
diminish to tiny dots as they make their way along the roads beneath
us. So that’s what it looks like from 12,000 feet up! Red
light on means door is about to open and when it does Jeremy the
photographer climbs past me to get ready to go, I swing my legs
out the door and once I’ve got my body position right we’re
on our way.
lots of other people come down safely and knowing that statistically
I’m more likely to get hurt on the journey home the primitive
part of my brain takes over and fear overwhelms me for a few seconds.
This makes me freeze up and as we leave the plane we spin around
so that instead of looking
at the ground we’re facing the sky. The instructor opens the
‘drogue’ chute which rectifies this and also slows our
speed to match that of the cameraman. Eventually get my body position
sorted out again and begin to have fun waving at the camera.
a shock to watch Jeremy fall away rapidly when Ash deploys the main
parachute but he has to get a move on to meet us when we land to
record our return to terra firma. The physics of the situation mean
that due to the leg straps my thighs are taking most of the load
which is slightly uncomfortable (Laura found it very painful, maybe
my muscle tone is better than hers?!) The rest of the descent is
quite peaceful and I’m able to enjoy the view for a few minutes.
With just a few slight turns we come in to the landing area perfectly,
in a sitting position with legs out in front so we come to rest
on our behinds more gently than I’d expected. I did it!
Time for one
final photo with Ash to celebrate my first jump then a short walk
back to meet Laura at the gate. While I’ve been quite calm
on the descent I now feel the effect of that adrenaline through
my body, slightly shaky but I guess this is a perfectly normal reaction
to what I’ve done.
pleased to have done it I’m not sure if I’d do it again
and I certainly wouldn’t take it up as a hobby.
of Jeremy Cooper. www.skydivesouthcerney.co.uk
have wanted to do a skydive since 2007, when I watched friends do
it while travelling in Africa. As my holiday insurance did not cover
me for ‘dangerous sports’ I couldn’t take part
with them. Since then my new years resolution every year has been
to do a jump, and this year I stuck to it, along with fellow daredevil
(?!) presenter Mike.
14 August 2010:
We turn up
at the airfield at 8am and after a short wait are bought into the
briefing room for our training. Here we were told exactly what would
be happening and shown the equipment we would be wearing. While
not exactly the height of fashion (does anyone look good in a jumpsuit
and rubber helmet?!) it provided warm against the cold, and would
protect us on landing. We were also shown the position we had to
adopt for free falling and landing. I nicknamed the free falling
position the banana, as we were bent in the shape of the fruit.
On landing we were told to lift our legs, so the instructor would
touch the ground first. After rolling around on the floor practising
we all seemed to get the hang of it.
However the training was in vain, as the low clouds had not lifted,
and we were sent home with our feet firmly on the ground.
Back at the
airfield hoping it would be second time lucky! Once again we are
sent into the training session, but this time I knew what I was
doing! Chanting banana, lift feet, banana, lift feet, in my head
I felt confident!
Despite there still being some clouds the first jumps were kitted
up and in the sky in around 20minutes, so we knew we would be jumping.
I was allocated
a place in life 5, with my instructor Paul, and was kitted up in
a fetching jumpsuit, hat and goggles.
Sitting in the
small plane and watching the ground get further away it suddenly
sunk in that I wouldn’t be taking a return flight down. The
height that we were jumping from felt a lot more daunting when I
asked Paul if we were almost ready to go, and he told me that we
were only at 4,000 feet. Bearing in mind that we were jumping from
12,000 feet we still had a long way to go!
Sitting on the
edge of the door getting ready to jump I felt slightly nervous,
but that didn’t last long, as Paul launched us off. The exhilaration
of free falling soon took over, and it felt amazing.
Once the parachute
was opened Paul passed me the controls and
I was allowed to spin us. I did this three times, until Paul gently
explained that he needed to land us so would have to take the controls
back! I enjoyed a nice chat most of the way down with him (as people
may know I am very rarely speechless!)
The landing went smoothly,
and was controlled. I couldn’t believe how fast it had gone,
with my descent to the ground lasting around 3 minutes. The experience
was amazing, and I could not stop smiling after.
Mike was on lift 8, so
after a brief delay (when the plane hit a pigeon) he was away. I
stood by the gate to offer him moral support when he landed (whether
he wanted it or not!) He arrived safely, and did not seem too traumatised
by the whole event
All in all it
was an experience of a lifetime, and I have definitely caught the