I was bought a skydive for my 18th birthday, nearly 10 years ago, although I didn't actually do the skydive until a year later. The total cost of the skydive was £120. As I have had no experience of skydiving before, the only option I had, was to do a tandem, skydive, where I am strapped to a trainer who knows what they are doing. I could have taken part on a course to train me to skydive myself although this would have cost in the region of £300.
I called to book a day for my skydive several times but due to the weather I was unable to do it for a while. I basically had to keep phoning on all the days I was available to do it until the weather felt friendly enough to let me do it.
So In April, 2003, when I had a day off, I called Headcorn Aerodrome Centre and asked if it was suitable for me to do it. It was a lovely clear day and I was told to make my way over as soon as possible. Unfortunately my friend and family had to work so I had to go over alone. Headcorn is in the middle of nowhere and after a little bit of trouble with directions, I managed to get there and park up.
I went into the main reception and handed in the little pack I had been given. The lad told me to take a seat in the café and help myself to complimentary tea or coffee. Shortly after I had settled down, I was approached by a man named Michael who introduced himself as an instructor. He told me that we would be going up in the plane with a few other people and we were just waiting for them to arrive. About 10 minutes later, six lads from the army arrived and we were taken to a shed type building. In this building we were shown a video, that detailed what we would be doing that day, it showed someone being prepared for their skydive, getting their equipment ready and then going up in the plane and finally doing the skydive.
Michael then took me to another small shed and explained that I was the only person there that day doing a tandem dive as the army lads were in training and were doing their first solo dive that day so they would be undertaking different training from me. Michael found me a very fetching bright green jumpsuit which he left me to get changed into. It was awful, made of lycra and not very flattering at all, especially as I had to put it on over the clothes I was already wearing! Michael left me alone in the shed to get into my jumpsuit. Once I was ready, he came back in and found me some gloves and also a helmet. He then explained exactly what would happen. We were going to get into a plane with the other six lads and fly to a height of 3, 000 feet which is where we would jump from. He put a harness on me and showed me the clips which would attach us to each other. He then put his own harness on. Now can the technical part... he explained what positions we would be in when we jumped, basically he would be sat inside the plane while I slowly edged my way outside with my hips pointing outwards as far as I could get them. He then explained the I had to tuck my feet underneath a step on the outside of the plane as this would then allow me to be in the perfect position for jumping from the plane. Michael made me feel very at ease as asked if I had any questions. I asked him to run through the jumping position one more time just to make sure I was 100% sure of what I was doing. Michael explained that once we had jumped from the plane, we would freefall for 1, 000 feet before opening the parachute. Once in freefall we would reach a speed of 120mph. He explained that once we opened the parachute he would pass me straps and I would be able to steer us from left to right. As we were nearly the ground, he explained that I would past the steering straps to him so he could guide up to a landing point. Once I was happy that I knew what I was doing, we then went through the landing process. Michael explained that all I had to do while landing was make sure I bought my legs up to my chest as he would take the impact while we were landing. He explained that we would land in a specific spot and once we were landed, I could then bring my feet down to the floor. Michael said that I needed to make sure I screamed and enjoyed myself; he kept mentioning the fact that I should scream which annoyed me slightly as I thought he kept saying this because I am a girl and he expected me to scream. Once we had been through all the training and I was confident I knew what I was meant to do, we made out way over to the plane.
On the way over to the plane, Michael explained that I could pay for a cameraman to go up with us and take photos. I had the option of having photos taken or having the whole jump filmed. I enquired about prices and the photos would have cost £150 and the film would have cost £280 so I gave both a miss as I thought this was very expensive.
We all climbed into the plane, in total there was myself, Michael, the six army lads and their trainer. It was a bit of a tight squeeze and we were cosy to say the least. As we started to fly up to 3, 000 feet, Michael went through the basics again and clips the straps together so we were then attached to each other and ready to jump. It was very noisy in the plane because of engine noise so we had to shout to hear one another. I basically had to sit on Michael's lap at this point because we were not attached to one another, I was strapped to the front of him, both of us facing the same way.
Once we reached 3, 000 feet, Michael explained that the army lads would be jumping first, leaving us until last so we could take our time. I began to get slightly nervous at the point... not because I am scared of heights or anything; more because I wanted to make sure I got the procedure correct. We watched al the army lads jumping which was a very good experience in itself. They were just sort of throwing themselves out of the plane. After the 6th lad had jumped, it was then my turn...
Michael explained again the position I needed to be in for when we jumped and we edged our way over to the door in the plane. I looked down and was amazed not to be feeling that nervous, in all honestly, when I looked down, nothing really looked that real, where everything was so small it almost looked like one of the kiddies play mates you can get. Michael sat in the edge of the doorway and I eased myself outside the plane, with my hips sticking outwards and tucked my feet underneath the step outside the plane. Michael told me I needed to stick my hips out more so I did my best. He then tapped my shoulder and shouted the on the count of three I was top push myself forward and we would jump. It's bizarre because you don't actually jump, you just kind of fall from the plane. Michael did the count down and we fell out of the plane. We kind of tumbled and rolled a few times and then we were both falling face down to the ground. My guts kind of lurched as we jumped from the plane (like when you go on a fast ride) but I was surprised to find that this feeling soon went. So there we were falling at 120mph, the ground coming towards us very quickly and I suddenly realised that I was having trouble breathing. I think it was where the air was coming at us at 120mph, I couldn't actually get any air into my lungs. At first I decided I was going to hold my breath and soon realised that this wasn't going to be possible, I tried again, and failed to get some air into my lungs. At this point, I panicked and started hitting Michael leg to get his attention (which I'm sure he didn't appreciate) I couldn't actually talk where I couldn't breath so just kept banging his legs with one hand and pointing at my throat with the other! He shouted in my ear, and told me to scream which to me at the time seemed like a crazy idea considering I couldn't even breathe. I thought what the hell, I going to die anyway and gave screaming a shot and to my surprise a loud scream came out and my breathing kicked in! This obviously filled me with great relief! A few moments later Michael shouted that he was going to release the parachute. He pulled a few straps and out came the parachute, we were pulled sharply upwards and then everything seemed to calm down. Up until then everything had been very noisy with the wind rushing past us but once the parachute was out, everything went very peaceful. Michael started pointing out building around us and even pointed out a zoo where we could see the animals wandering around; this was really good for me as I'm a massive animal lover. Michael passed me the straps and explained me how to steer, we went left, then right and then did a full circle. I really was amazed at how peaceful everything was, we could hear each other very clearly and the feeling of being weightless was lovely. We drifted slowly towards the ground and a few moments later Michael asked me to pass him the steering straps. He explained where we would be landing and pointed at a gravel patch down below and explained that that was where we were heading. As we got nearer the ground Michael quickly an through the landing position and told me that he would give me a countdown for when we were landing and that on the count of three, I should bring my legs up to my chest. One the count f three, up came my leg and down to the ground we went, there was a slight bump as Michael's legs landed in the pit and a few moments later, I brought my own legs down. Michael unattached us from one another and asked how I felt, I said that I was shaking with the adrenalin and that it was a wonderful experience. I explained that I had banged his leg shortly after we jumped because I couldn't breathe and he explained that many people hold their breath without realising when they jump and that is why he had kept telling me to scream (I felt slightly silly at this point for thinking he was only telling me to scream because I am a girl) He said that I had probably held my breath and then when I went to breath I couldn't get the air in because of the speed we were going.
We slowly walked back over to the main reception where we met up with the six other army lads and talked about our jumps. The parachute centre gave us a beer each and we all sat and gossiped for a while. I then changed out of my lovely green jumpsuit and gave all the equipment back to Michael and thanked him for the enjoyable experience.
I would recommend skydiving to anyone not afraid of heights. Although it is quite expensive, it was a thoroughly exhilarating experience and left me with wobbly legs due to the adrenalin rush.
My one major piece of advise to anyone doing a skydive?? Make sure you scream!!!!
Back in the summer of 2007, I travelled up and sown the West coast of Australia. With three days left of my trip to go I had a big decision to make. With just 500 Australian Dollars left in my pocket should I (a) Have a few really nice days in Perth or (b) blow what I had left on a skydive and spend the last few days drinking water and eating bread and peanut butter. In the end the choice was simply. Peanut butter is tremendous after all.
With my decision made and my $500 firmly in my back pocket I set off with a few travelling companions to book our dive. The very next morning we were sitting in a minibus on our way to an airfield just outside Perth. Loads of inappropriate jokes about our current situation were flying over and back but in truth the atmosphere was relatively calm when one considers what we were about to do.
On arrival at the airfield, we were greeted by our instructors who promised to take care of us and that we would have an unbelievable experience. They brought us in to the quite spacious training area and got us suited up. This was when the nervous giggles hit us. I couldn't help but get caught up in the atmosphere of the place with so many skydive enthusiasts around.
The company then gave us a form to sign saying that if anything was to go wrong then they would not be left accountable.
On reading this form a number of points made me chuckle but none more so than, "there is an element of luck involved in every skydive." What had I just signed up to do? I could be sipping a cocktail on the beach instead. What an idiot!
Anyway I'd paid for it now so I thought, let us crack on. On purchasing my dive I had chosen the 14,000 feet jump with the option to have my jump recorded on DVD as a souvenir. The 14,000 feet dive gave me 60 seconds of freefall prior to the parachute opening.
So with training complete, we headed out to the light aircraft that was to bring us to the skies. With 8 tandem jumps taking place at the same time it was a bit snug but it just added to the experience and the banter. One of my friends is afraid of heights but conquered his fear to do the jump. Seeing his face turn white when the pilot announced that we were about half way up was one of the highlights for me.
I was the first to jump. No 1,2,3's with these Ozzie thrill seekers, it's just straight out the door. Falling through the sky like a stone. Travelling a ridiculous speed with your skin pinned back cause of the forces. With the DVD man not more that 10 feet away I felt like I had to pull a few poses for the camera. The superman pose was a particular favourite. Then without much warning the parachute was pulled and we were propelled back up into the sky. The views were amazing. You could literally see for 50 to 60 miles. My instructor told me that a small dot in the distance was Ayers Rock. At this I gave him a funny glance as if to say how can it be? He replied by saying, "damn it, it always works on the Japanese tourists."
I was lucky enough to be aloud to guide myself down for the majority of the decent using the parachute chords. It was a truly breathtaking experience. Nothing like I had every experienced or will every experience again. My legs were like jelly as soon as we hit the ground. The cost, the fear the peanut butter, it was all worth it.
For the thrill seekers among you who are contemplating doing a dive, here are a few points that you could possibly take note of.
(a) Just do it. It is a phenomenal experience that you will never forget.
(b) Do it with a group of friends. I feel to do the jump alone could possibly take away from the experience.
(c) Choose a beautiful location. The nicer the area, the more you will appreciate your decent. If you are paying that much money then you want to enjoy it fully.
(d) Finally, consider doing the jump without the optional DVD extra. I decided to get it but in hindsight I wish I hadn't. You get so caught up looking at the camera that you forget to fully enjoy the 60-second freefall.
It is the ultimate adrenaline rush. There is nothing else like it.
Skydiving is quite simply THE most exhilarating thing you will ever do.
I joined a local skydiving club for £160 and this included my training and my first jump. Prices can vary, but £160 is quite a reasonable price so you might expect to pay slightly more than this. Unlike most first jumps my first jump was a solo static-line jump; the other common first jump type is a tandem jump in which you are strapped to somebody else who does all the work for you.
Before you can jump you must go through at least eight hours of training. For me this involved a stay at the airfield with the training complete over the course of two days. This training consists of learning how to exit the plane, learning what to do afterwards, learning how to diagnose and fix problems that you might occur and learning how to land. It is quite disconcerting how quickly it is all over, and because you have been focusing on things going wrong then things can be quite scary when you are getting ready to jump. After training you will do a quick test to show your instructor that you are ready to jump.
Before jumping you will suit up. Your kit will be checked over multiple times for safety and only after this will you be given the go ahead. From this step you move into the plane where you will be organised according to height and weight. The plane will take off a climb to the correct height which for static line jumps is 3500ft or for tandem jumps 10,000ft. Following this the door will open, you will move to the edge and wait for your instructors go-ahead. When this is given, you jump.
On a static line jump you are attached to the plane by a cord which, when you jump, will pull your parachute for you. After jumping there will be about four or five seconds where you are without a canopy above you. The feeling of falling sends your stomach racing and you are left wondering just why you did this, but after a few moments of chaos everything becomes quiet and serene as you float at 3500 ft by yourself. Following this it's a case of playing up there for four minutes before landing, but the fun and good feeling lasts much longer than this thanks to the massive adrenaline rush. It literally is THE greatest feeling in the world.
I have done one tandem sky dive and have one planned for this summer. Therefore I am far from an expert but can write a review of what my first time was like.
I am, by nature, a risk taker! I like anything that involves danger and adrenaline. So, at the age of 23 I decided to do a tandem sky dive to raise money for a local hospice where I had been a volunteer during my year out from Alevels and before I went to university.
Booking the sky dive was easy. There are rules and regulations as well as medical questions in order to ensure that you are fit and healthy enough to do a sky dive. There are also weight/ height restrictions too which can be found on various websites for information.
*****Do I need to be super fit?****
No, you don't! You do need to be in good health and have a reasonable fitness though in order to do a tandem skydive.
****What is a tandem sky dive?****
It is where you have no real control over the parachute. You have an instructor strapped onto your back who is completely responsible for as and when the parachute is opened. Therefore, the instuctor is with you at all times and without any responsibility you are able to enjoy the free fall!
Takes around half an hour with the instructor on site on the day of the tandem sky dive. They will go through what will happen as well as emergency procedures and you will have the chance to ask any questions.
****Is it scary?****
You will travel upto around 25,000 - 30,0000ft in an aeroplane and while on the way up the instructor will ensure you are strapped accordingly and that all the equipment is attached properly and safely. They will often chat and reassure you especially if you are feeling a bit nervous!
Then you will sit on the edge of the door and be launched out of the plane free falling at around 115MPH for around 15-30 seconds depending on the weather and the height you are at. Remember to hold your breath as it is nearly impossible to breathe at this speed. The feeling of falling is amazing as you see a patchwork quilt of fields below with tiny dots for houses and cars etc.
Then the parachute will be opened when the instructor knows he/she has reached a certain height. Then it will take around 2 minutes to gently float back down to earth!
Around £250-400 per tandem jump and you can pay an extra £100-150 for a video to be taken of your jump at some parachute centers.
Absolutely brilliant experience for any adrenaline junkie like me!
I did I skydive back in 2001 outside Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada. I had a great view of the Rocky Mountains to top it all off!!! It is great fun! Sure it might seem dangerous but honestly the chances of anything bad happening are one in a million (and life wouldn't be so much fun if we didn't take a few risks now would it).
Having plucked up both the courage and my £80 cash (it'll be more expensive in the UK, I'm estimating between £120-150 I'm afraid) we drove to the sky diving centre and first undertook a little 'training'.
Training lasted less then ten minutes and firstly involved the selection of one of a multitude of multicoloured jump suits. Once kitted up and feeling throughougly stupid we got down to the real buisness. This mostly involved lying on a bench and learning how to shape yourself like a banana which is the position you should take as you fall. In addition we were given some basic tips such as not dragging your feet along the floor as you're landing etc but mostly it will be up to your jump partner to instruct you as and when.
Next we met our jumping buddies. If you experience is anything like mine you'll find that your buddy has something like 500 odd jumps under his belt. This definitely made me feel more confident.
So, training finished. It's time to get in the plane!!
Eleven of us crammed inside a tiny little plane, five first timers, five buddies and the pilot. It was a squeeze, no seats, with the first timers sqeezed between the legs of their buddy.
Ready for take-off and up we go. Can you feel the adrenaline pumping now????
Less then ten minutes after take-off and your time is up it's time for the jump! The doors opened right next to me, I could literally look right down to my right and see the ground swirling a long way below me. I could barely move. I was terrified.
I was third out of the five to jump and I knew this in advance. I felt my buddy clip the safety harnesses between us. The first two pairs jumped and then it was our turn. My buddy instructed me to edge forward which I did hesitantly but there was no time to think!! A sudden shove from behind and bang we were off!!!!!!!!!!!!!
WWWWWOOOAAASSSHHHH, Feel the air rush past you as you fall face down at 120mph. Make sure you adopt that banana position now!! open you eys and marvel at the ground rushing before you, little matchbox sized fields, getting closer and closer. Falling falling falling and then wwwooooaaasssshhhh, the parachute opens and you revert into an upright position floating, floating, floating and you can finally relax and enjoy the ride.
I don't know what the most intense part is, the freefall or this part. Floating down is the most serene experience in the world it is amazing. Is this what it's like to be a bird? The instructor controls the direction of movement (I don't know how) by pulling these handles, it seemed very easy and I just got to sit back and enjoy the view which in my case was particularly stunning!!! We must have floated for maybe ten minutes (no-where near enough) before the landing part came up. It's pretty simple all you have to do is remember to lift you feet up and the intructor does the rest. Sure you're going to get scraped across the field a little but believe me you won't mind.
And that ladies and gentleman was my experience of a skydive. I've never done another I guess because of the cost in this country but I certainly would!! And I recommend it to any of you thrill seekers out there as an absolute MUST.
There are loads of places you can jump from in the UK. I've had a quick look and found this website if you are interested in finding a location near you: http://www.extremesportscafe.com/skydiving_locations.html
You can jump from different height and this affects the length of time in the free fall, I jumped from about 10,000 ft which only leaves about 20 seconds of freefall.
You don't need to be particularly fit, as long as you are healthy. You can skydive in any walk of life from 18 onwards (and 16 onwards with parental consent). There is also a weight limit which I think varies between centres.
You only have to have completed seven jumps before they'll let you jump solo!!!!!
Charity jumps are a huge thing as I am sure you know and are a good way to get out of paying for the jump yourself and make some money for a good cause. The disadvantage of course being that collecting the money can be a nightmare.
I really hope that I have encouraged some of you to give this a try!!! Thanks for reading!!
I was working as a Promotions Co-ordinator for a gym about 4 years ago, which involved organising marketing and fundraising events. We were raising money to enable handicapped children to take part in sport and one of the fundraising activities was a sponsored parachute jump.
In the process of trying to persuade members of the gym to join in with this event, I inadvertently got myself talked into it too! Apparently I couldn't very well persuade people to do something I wasn't prepared to do myself!!
Once we had agreed to take part in the skydive we had to arrange for sponsorship from friends and family. The deal was that we had to raise at least £300, which would cover the cost of the skydive and then leave a minimum of £150 to go to our charity.
**Day of the jump**
The parachute jump took place at Hinton Skydiving Centre which is based in Brackley, Northants near the Silverstone racetrack, which I drove to along with my mum and sister. We were told to arrive at 9.00am, but were not told what time we would be jumping. From the gym there were about 25 of us doing a sponsored jump. At the skydiving centre there were about another 50 people who were either also doing sponsored jumps or taking part in paid for jumps or training sessions.
The weather was beautiful - bright and sunny with no wind, so we were told that unless there were any massive changes to the weather we would all be able to jump that day. British weather being what it is the skydiving centre can never guarantee a jump will be able to take place on the day booked. They advise you to call early on the day of you jump to check the weather conditions. If the weather is poor they will then book you another jump date.
We were allocated a jump slot of 3pm, and so the wait began! Hinton skydiving centre is made up of a group of training rooms set inside an airport hanger, along with a large waiting area with comfy sofas, TV's showing parachute videos, pool tables and a well stocked café with hot and cold food. There is also a large marquee type tent where you go to get kitted up.
As it was lovely weather and the middle of summer, we were able to make the most of sitting on the picnic benches outside and watching everyone else clambering into the plane and then throwing themselves out!! The more people I watched jumping and being so excited when they landed, the more I couldn't wait to try it myself. One man was trying to set a new record for the number of jumps being done in 24 hours, so was literally getting in the plane, jumping, landing, getting in the plane, jumping, landing etc - which was amazing to watch and spurred us on even more!
**Time to jump**
After several hours of waiting and watching, my group from the gym was finally called into the kitting up tent. We were split into groups of 6 and these were the people we would be in the same plane with. We were then introduced to the instructor we would be doing our tandem jump with.
For anyone who doesn't know, a tandem jump is when you are strapped by a harness to your instructor. It is the easiest form of skydiving as the instructor checks the altitude and when to release the parachute, and no previous knowledge or actual training is required. All you have to do is trust your instructor and just do whatever you're told.
My instructors name was Mike Browne, and I was pleased to hear he was also one of the owners of Hinton Skydiving Centre. Mike began skydiving in 1982 in the RAF and had completed over 4500 jumps, which reassured me that he knew what he was doing!! Mike gave me a very attractive purple and green suit to put on, which looked a bit like a clown costume. You wear this over whatever you are wearing, so make sure you have something comfy on underneath - jogging bottoms as opposed to jeans. I was also given an Ali G style pair of yellow tinted goggles and a leather cap with ear protectors. I wear contact lenses and was worried that they might fly out, but was reassured that the goggles would protect them. They also had larger goggles which were designed to fit over glasses. Last of all I put on a harness which strapped between my legs and then came up and strapped over my shoulders. This would later be attached to my instructor's harness. We all had a bit of a giggle at how stupid we looked, but were then told we had to concentrate and be sensible while we had our safety briefing with our instructors.
The safety briefing consisted of explaining what would happen during the jump and the positions we should take. To demonstrate the positions I was strapped to my instructor by the clips on my harness at the hips and shoulders. There is small strap between the clips which enabled me to hang beneath my instructor, so as he bent over I was suspended below him! He explained that we would clip together in the plane and then when it came to our turn to jump he would carry me below him to the door while he got into position. While I was hanging beneath him at the door I was told to have my arms crossed in front of me and my feet crossed behind me and try and arch my back. He then said that after we had jumped out of the plane he would tap me on the shoulder and I should bring my arms out in front of me Superman style, but to leave my feet crossed. We practised this a few times in the safety of the tent and then moved onto the landing position. The landing position was very easy - I just had to bring my knees up when we came into land and then gently plant them on the floor and run forwards a bit while the parachute came down.
After running through the positions I was then told what would happen in the event that the parachute didn't open - just the thing I didn't want to hear! I was told that my instructor would have 2 parachutes, one of which would be a reserve in-case the first one failed to open. I didn't have a parachute so just had to rely on my harness staying attached to him!
We were now set and ready to go
**The actual jump**
3.20pm came around and it was time for my group to go and get into the plane to do our jump. I said goodbye to my mum and sister - my Mum was looking rather pale at this point! We set off walking up the runway to board our plane and I kept thinking that the Topgun music should have been playing! I was told that the plane was an old Russian bomber plane, which I'm not sure was true or not but it certainly looked like it had seen better days! It seated the 6 skydivers in my group plus our instructors. We clambered in and sat in a row on either side in the order that we would jump - thankfully I'd managed to talk the others out of making me go first and was lined up to jump in 4th place.
The engines then started, along with the adrenaline pumping through me and we set off along the runway. As we were picking up speed I noticed the door was still open - I asked my instructor why and was told it was to make it quicker to exit the plane incase of an emergency!! It took us about 10 minute to reach our altitude of 12,000 feet. We spent these last few minutes going through the positions again, and my instructor pointed out his house nearby and Silverstone racetrack.
It then came to my turn, my instructor checked I was ready and then we made our way to the door with me hanging between his legs in my 'ready to jump' position. We stood at the doorway for what felt like an eternity, but most have only been a few seconds. Just as I was thinking 'I don't want to do this', we were off!!
We fell for about 30 seconds, travelling at 120 mph, which was the most amazing feeling ever! It was so loud with the wind rushing past us, and the fields below looked like a tiny map rushing up towards us! I had taken up the offer of having my jump filmed so there was another instructor who jumped at the same time as us with a video camera on his helmet to capture every moment of my jump. He was waving at me, so I tried to wave back but it was nearly impossible against the strength of the wind. After falling from 12,000 feet to 5,000 feet my instructor then released the parachute, which suddenly wrenched us both upwards. This caused the harness to pull up tightly around my thighs which hurt a bit, but can imagine it's probably a lot worse for a man!
We then drifted down for the last 5,000 feet which took about 10 minutes. I was allowed to take my goggles off at this point and truly appreciate the wonderful view below me. It was a patchwork quilt of fields and farms, and below a great big cross on the floor where we should aim to land. I was asked if I wanted to try a few tricks but before I had a chance to answer my instructor had shut down half of the parachute by pulling down on a handle and we were whizzing round in spirals! We tried this is both directions which was fantastic and it speed us up as we descended to the ground.
Slowly we came into land; we were travelling so slowly at this point that the landing was very soft. We simply planted our feet down and ran forward a little bit while the parachute came drifting down. It was such an amazing experience that after giving my instructor a huge hug, I was begging to do it again!!
**Was I scared?**
When I've told people about my jump, most people have said 'but weren't you scared?' I can honestly say I wasn't scared - spending all day watching other people do it had got me really excited and doing it with a group of friends helped and we spurred each other on. Everyone at Hinton Skydiving Centre was great and filled us with confidence and enthusiasm. The only doubt I had was when my body was hanging out of the plane ready to jump but my instructor was still holding on, but by the time I'd thought 'it's a long way down' we were off and I was loving it!! As I'm sure you can guess by reading this, a tandem parachute jump comes highly recommended from me and I would love to do it again!
**Can anyone skydive?**
Most people can skydive. The weight limit for tandem jumps is 15 stone, which needs to be in proportion to your overall height. You do not need to be in excellent health or fitness to do a tandem jump. It is also possible to take part if you are wheelchair bound. If you are over 40 you will need your doctor's approval and if you are over 16, (minimum age), and under 18, you will require parent/guardian permission. There is no maximum age for tandem skydiving.
***Skydive for Charity**
If you are interested in also doing a skydive to raise money for charity I would advise looking it up on the internet as many well-known charities offer this fundraising activity.
**Hinton Skydiving Centre**
Along with tandem skydiving, they also offer RAPS static line 2 day courses from £120 and Accelerated freefall (AFF) courses from £350. The courses are organised both midweek and weekends and the centre is open from Tuesday to Sunday for all types of jumping.
For more information on Hinton Skydiving centre visit - http://www.skydive.co.uk/res_website.asp?supplierCode=HIN100
Tel: 01295 812300
Fax: 01295 812400
**Thank you very much for reading, and I hope I've inspired some of you to give this amazing experience a go! Let me know if you do try it! Helen**
Skydiving is frankly a bit of a mental thing to do. Why would anyone voluntarily throw themselves out of a perfectly good plane 12,000 feet above land?!? Wellllll....there is that something that you quite can't put your finger on that makes thousands of perfectly sane people do it every year with only a flimsy piece of cloth tucked away in a bag, and 4 metal clips to get them back to earth safely. A few months ago, whilst in the stunning New Zealand on a Round the World trip of a lifetime, I became one of those?.who has been there, done that....and most importantly lived to tell the tale! I have often vowed that I would never engage in such silly activities as sky diving as I would be just TOO scared. I have a huge fear of heights. In the gorgeous Taupo, New Zealand however, a very very spur of the moment decision (and large amounts of peer pressure from a bus load of fellow jumpees!) convinced me otherwise. New Zealand is the adventure capital of the world where amongst the ever present backpacker brigade of visitors, skydiving and bungee jumping is about as normal as popping to your local Safeway for a pint of milk. I figured that if thousands of other people can jump...why on earth can't I!!! People jump for many different reasons, the main one being for a huge adrenaline rush and to do something they have wanted to do all their lives. For me however it was simply to prove to myself that I could do it. I am so incredibly proud of myself! I opted to do a tandem skydive (meaning I jumped attached to a trained tandem master who did everything for me) and therefore there is no safety briefing or any form of instruction before the jump. There is NO WAY you would have caught me jumping by myself but if you are that way inclined and want to go it alone, you can have a 6 hour course, but your skydive 'freefall' is for a very small amount of time as your parachute cord is pulled for you before leaving the plane. Opinions ar
e varied as to which is better, but I would definitely recommend tandem because if you are as scared as me, having someone jump with you is vital!, but on the other hand if you are a huge thrill seeker, you can jump from a lot higher and have more freefall with a tandem jump. On the morning of the jump I was absolutely terrified. I was in tears before even getting in the plane I was so so so so so so so so scared....but when you have a strapping big surfer dude attached to your back with a parachute that he claims has never failed to open, you just have to go with the flow and fall! Once you get in the plane there is absolutely no going back as your tandem master shuffles you to the plane of the door and then pushes you both out no matter what obscenities you are screaming! I freefell for 45 whole seconds at 200km an hour which was sheer craziness but such fun. The sensation could probably most closely be compared to being pushed up into the air by a super strong air vent machine whilst also thundering from a great height. Your face is stretched and so you force a smile whether you feel like it or not. I definitely did though, despite my terror, I loved every second once we had left the plane. At 3000 feet the parachute opened (thankfully no dramas to report on that front!) and it was then so slow and graceful and I sort of managed to take in the breathtaking mountains, lake, and gorgeous scenery that was around me! I would highly recommend getting a video despite its fairly extortionate cost. I paid NZ$215 for the sky dive, and an extra NZ$145 for the video (because you are basically paying a whole other person to jump) but it is worth every penny and more. They capture you before getting on the plane, the journey up (mine shows me hyperventilating, crying, shaking and shaking my head saying I could not do it!) but then the cameraman jumps at the same time as you and follows you down until your parachutes open. I could no
t believe the sensation of freefalling, and my emotions are captured forever on video. Definitely one to keep and show the grandchildren in 50 years time!! I would whole heartedly recommend doing a skydive, despite the fact that I hated the build up because I was overcome with such fear. I wouldn?t do one again for this reason, it is just not natural to put oneself through such traumas (and pay for them!), but as a once in a lifetime activity, it was sensational and definitely a highlight of my year's travelling. I skydived at the 'Freefall' Centre based in Taupo, New Zealand. This is the cheapest place in the world to do it (but don't worry, all very very safe, no cowboy outfitters!). I would recommend doing it somewhere scenic as once you have got over the amazing freefall, and opened your eyes, parachuting to earth over a lake which is bigger than Singapore, surrounded by spectacular snow capped volcanic mountains (one of which was Mount Doom to you LOTR fans!) is kinda special! Go on, if I can do it!..you certainly can!
Talking to the head of my parachuting centre, he told me that this year there have only been 4 refutes, out of 100's of first timers. This should not make you worry of the embarrassment if you are one of those few (they are very respectful of ones fear), but should strengthen your will to think that this is not such an unusual feat. So why should someone want to do a skydive you may ask? Well, obviously it is an amazing experience, and one which becomes more exhilirating the further you persue the sport, but many people, including myself, confess that they would just love the chance to show off to all their mates who havn't done it. It may also look good to employers also. So what types of jump are available, and how much do these cost? Well the basic jump which I did was the static line. This costs around £150 which includes all the training, and the jump. This jump requires a full days training (from about 9/10 am until afternoon). It involves an exit from a light aircraft alone from a height of around 3,500ft and your parachute opens as you leave (it is connected to parachute with rope, the top of your parachute comes off with the rope letting you free). You must step out onto the steps, holding onto the wing in front, and shimmy along, then let go and get in position while screaming 1-4000 counting the seconds, followed by "check canopy", but dont worry, if you have what it takes to step on the wing you can do it, just dont refuse. Do try your best to follow all instructions and training well in the jump, as the jump may not count as satisfactory in the progression ladder. This jump will start you off on your progression to becoming freefall qualified, which a tandem will not, something to consider. Once you have done this, your next static line will be only £30, as will all the others after that until you get your own kit, but thats a long way off even if you do continue. The tandem jump costs around £200 an
d entails an exit from an aircraft at 15,000ft attached to the front of a qualified instructor. Advantages are that you only need very brief training (about 30 mins) and the instructor does all the work with the parachute, also it is the quickest way to try freefall. Disadvantages are the extra cost, as the jump does not count towards your freefall license. Also, with the static line, your next jump will be only £30, with a tandem, you must then pay the £150 to start static and progress up the system. There are many different forms of the sport skydiving. There is freeflying, basically having a laugh in the sky making all sorts of weird body shapes in freefall. There's skysurfing (very new), where you fall from the sky on a surfboard (adapted for skydiving) and ride the air waves, mainly a competition event. Many people become experts in accuracy under canopy (under parachute) and can land on a 3 inch disc. However, there is no money to be made in skydiving, people just compete for the pride. Don't build your hopes up about these though, they are a long way off. My instructor has done 1,500 jumps, but there are many people who have done over 10,000. It is definitely a sport you should consider, whoever you are. Even if you're afraid of heights, this is a different kind of height, my instructor who's done 1500 jumps is afraid of heights, always has been, but has never had the same feeling up in the sky. I didn't feel nervous at all except for one part of the flight, when he opened the door. As words of advice if you DO choose to do a static line, be prepared for the sudden rush of wind when they open the door, and most of those who refuse are those who step out on the wing and climb back in. Ever stuck your hand out of a car going at 90mph, you will have twice the force all over your body, but don't climb back in, you've done the hardest part, I really feel sorry for those who refuse.
Don’t worry, it’s no worse than throwing yourself out of the back of a plane. That’s the insult really. You see, in theory, it’s one of the simplest ideas you could have. Essentially it’s exactly the same as standing on your garden wall and jumping off. Except that maybe its just that little bit higher up. In practice, however, it’s a little more difficult. For a start, that little garden wall of yours will be fifteen thousand feet below you. That’s right, fifteen thousand feet, just under three miles. For me, it all started a week or two after my brother Mark had done one. Thankfully, he’d managed to return home a lot less flatter than he could have done, so this was at least as good a start as any. Shortly afterwards (as a result of his constant raving about it) I realised that skydiving would take first-place on my ‘things I’ve just got to do before I die’ list. Now, there are a couple of options that you can choose from when it comes to throwing yourself into a state of airborne panic. You can either choose; 1) A Static Line Parachute Jump (£135 approx.) – This is where you do a days ground training, fly up to about 4000 feet and jump out of the plane on your own (the chute automatically opens on exit). All you have to do is land the thing. You can also choose the type of parachute that you want to use, either a ‘square’ (manoeuvrable) chute or a ‘round’ (old-fashioned - uncontrollable) one. 2) A Tandem Skydive (£195 approx.) – This is where you’ll fly up to 15000 feet and jump out. Well, your trusty parachute instructor will jump out with you strapped to the front of ‘em. By doing this you will have the opportunity to experience freefalling. This is the one that I chose as there’s virtually no responsibility (opening the chute and landing etc.) all yo
u have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride. 3) An Accelerated Freefall Course (£1100 approx.) – This is where you get a bank loan and learn how to skydive by going through a structured, intensive training course (ultimately to become qualified). You’ll also freefall on each jump. I initially considered this route but changed my mind at the last minute and went for the tandem (just to make sure I’d like it). After all, eleven hundred quid is quite a bit of brass. When you’ve chosen which one you want to do, your best bet will be to go along to your nearest British Parachute Association dropzone (search the web for this), have a look around and maybe watch some of the pro’s coming in to land. This will slightly reassure you if you’re worried about landing, as you’ll see that they usually land on their tiptoes at about walking speed. Jumping ahead slightly, when you’ve done your first jump they’ll give you a magazine that explains what you can do next if you want to take up the sport. Try to get hold of one of these as it goes through what to expect from jumping and how to control fear and all that (I had the benefit of reading the one my brother got and it was invaluable). For the life of me I can’t figure out why on earth they don’t give you this long before you jump. If you ask nicely they should give you a copy. Anyway, I’d paid my money and made my choice, that was it, no turning back. Truth is, don’t just do one for the sake of it though, you’ve got to actually want to do one and deep down I couldn’t wait. Like all air-sports though, in this country its ten percent doing it and ninety percent waiting for the weather to clear, so you’ll need to be patient. The first time I went to do the jump I had the half an hour training session followed by two days of staring at a windsock whilst waiting for the clou
d to clear, in the end I had to wait until the next weekend. But, like fishing, if you put the time in, you’ll get the rewards in the long run. The day arrives, perfect weather and I feel great, I can’t wait to get there. Although this feeling did slightly deteriorate when I realised that I had to wait a couple of hours until the people who’d got there earlier than me did their jumping. This is a bad time, there’s a high chance of letting your anxieties get the better of you while your waiting around to go up. To get over it I just kept thinking about how good I’d feel afterwards, it seemed to work. Well, it seemed to work perfectly up until the minute they shouted my name out and I got the jumpsuit on. This is when you realise that you are actually gonna do it and the only thing that comes into your head is ‘I must be out of my f*** mind’. Still, the instructors are nice, reassuring folk so you’ll feel OK, there’ll also be a couple of other backward fools doing their first jump aswell so you’ll not be alone. In the plane, all the way up to altitude, the instructor will be repeating the exit procedure and all that to you so make sure you concentrate (its hard to hear in the back of a small plane). I was pleased about this because when you’re listening to him you’re not left alone to worry about all that stupid stuff that could go wrong but hardly ever does. Next thing I know, the plane slows down, the door opens and I’m shaking hands with the pros/nutters as they casually chuck themselves out the door. Now it’s my turn. Just tuck your legs and head back (so as to form an arch when horizontal) and that’s all there is to it. Yeah right, no matter what they say you’ll still be glancing down at the ground a lot and f** me is it a long way down! You expect things to look small but not that goddam small
. Mind you, I was twice the height of any nearby clouds. Anyway, I’ve assumed the best take off position that I can manage and after a steady rocking motion from the instructor (needed to get some momentum) we’re out. Head first. Absolutely effin’ incredible! Bungee jumping and all that crap doesn’t even come close! This is an absolutely unbelievable feeling, there’s no sensation of falling whatsoever (most people think its like being on a roller-coaster), its more like your floating, actually its just bloody mental! It’s at this point that I keep staring at the ground (like an idiot) and finding that breathing is very difficult (like sticking your head out of a car window when it’s moving quickly). I almost totally forgot to keep my head up (where, due to the dissipated airflow, you’ll find it really easy to breathe) and consequently ended up with the sensation of someone holding my head underwated. Other than this (which was purely my fault) it went perfectly. Then there’s the ultimate contrast to all this high speed tomfoolery. The parachute opens and you’re left gracefully floating around amidst an unbelievable view. I actually had my leg straps on a bit too tight so when the chute went up I really felt it on my legs. Fortunately, it wasn't too painful. Bear in mind that when you see them doing it on the tele, it only looks like a fearsome dead end stop when they pull the chute purely because the cameraman is still falling, its an optical illusion which makes it look much more severe than it actually is. After a very gradual decent to the landing strip (where some of my relations were waiting) we touched down on good old solid ground and I finally managed to actually breath out. What an unbelievable experience, it didn’t really hit me until the day after I’d done it but now I’ll neve
r forget it. I’ll almost certainly do one again (even if it’s only to make up for this one because, by looking down a lot, I did cock up the freefall a little bit) but I’m in two minds about taking it up as a sport. Don’t get me wrong I’d love it but I need to suss out if I’d have enough time to do it. We shall see. I know my brother will take it up. All I know is that the thought I had of being in a position in the future saying to myself ‘I really wish I’d have done that’, was far more frightening than any of the emotions I felt during that entire day. I know for a fact that I just couldn’t have lived with that kind of regret. But, at the very least, I’ve done it and you haven’t, so ner ner na ner ner! Additional Information: The dropzone I went to was Target Skysports at Hibaldstow Airfield, Hibaldstow, Brigg, North Lincolnshire. This dropzone is somewhat exclusive as it’s the only one that’s got a plane that can get you to 15000 feet quickly enough without needing oxygen (everywhere else will be nearer 12000 feet). If you want an ‘in-flight’ video of your jump (with photographs) it will be about sixty quid. However, it’s worth it (especially if you’re only gonna do it as a one-off).
Become a skygod. There is a world of difference between the battery farm approach of charity jumps and real skydiving. The basic approach of raise a hundred quid, be put through a few hours ground training then get shoved out of a Cessna at 2,500 ft is turning hundreds of people away from the sport. Static line jumping IS an essential part of training, but it should be done as a progressive step towards freefall, not as an end in itself. For goodness sake they chuck bags of grain out on a static line rig, there is no skill involved beyond a good exit. The rigs (parachutes) used by these high turnover outfits are old fashioned non steerable canopies, therefore the ride down is dull. Freefall and then a ride on a real sterrable square rig should be the goal. The enjoyment is far, far superior. If you have had a poor experience of a charity style static line jump I urge you to think about giving freefall a go. Cost is a drawback but the more people that do it the cheaper it will become. Get yourself a packing qual and you'll be able to make money that way whilst you are at the airfield. Don't settle for a mediocre dope rope jumb, become a skygod.
I can see my house from here...and it's accelerating towards me at a rapid speed.