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T.O.T.W. (Taking Over The World)


Raising Money
'Catalogue' pose!

Saturday 14 August 2010:
0730 arrive at South Cerney Skydive Centre

Briefing – 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.

Sunday 15 August 2010:
0830 return to DZ (drop zone – getting the hang of the jargon now!)

Briefed again 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.

Waiting for 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 "What the heck am I doing??!"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.

Despite watching 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 "Why am I looking at the sky? I thought we would be going the other way!"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.

It’s quite 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.

While I’m 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.

"Hello ground, oh how I've missed you."
"I'm alive, brilliant!"
Photographs courtesy of Jeremy Cooper. www.skydivesouthcerney.co.uk


"Thumbs up if you think I look cool!"I 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.

Saturday 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.

Sunday 15 August 2010:"Is it too late to change my mind??"

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 "Out the way! I'm coming in!"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 skydiving bug!

"Hello! Fancy seeing you here!"
"I'm ready to go again!"

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