Yesterday, 23rd April 2011, I did my skydive for the Lymphoma Association, along with three of my friends. I was so excited, especially seeing as I hadn’t seen two of the girls since September. It was an incredibly early morning, we were up at 6am to get there for 8.15am.
It took us forever to get registered. Rachel (in the pink shorts) got there before us and managed to get registered early, so she’d done her jump before 10am. For the other three of us, there was lots of waiting around, and eventually we were given a jump time of 1230.
We had our briefing, where we were told what to expect, what to do and how to land. We were told that sometimes, very occasionally, that the main chute doesn’t open and what would happen if they needed to use the reserve chute. I’m pretty sure all of us were sat there thinking “Oh, that won’t happen to me”, I was one of them.
We met the guys we were jumping with, got into our gear and got on the plane . All pretty uneventful, apart from the person on the plane who kept breaking wind, which was pretty gross.
While on the plane, the guy I was jumping with checked my gear, tightened up the harness etc and we went through what would happen when we jumped out. We’d walk to the door, I would tuck my legs behind me so he had all my weight (poor chap) and then he would jump out. We would free fall for 45 seconds, and then he would open the chute.
We jumped out and it was so, so cold. But wow, it was the most amazing experience to be free falling at 120 mph. Then our 45 seconds was up and it was time to open the chute and gently glide to earth.
Or at least, that’s what should have happened.
What actually happened was my instructor was going “Sh!t! Bug*er! Sh!t!” and kicking like mad. He wouldn’t answer when I asked what was wrong and just said “Sorry, but I think we’re gonna have to get rid of this. Arms back in!” and before I had chance to register what was going on, we were free falling again. I can honestly say I have never been so scared. Then he released the reserve chute, and it was nice and gentle again. We landed in a completely different field, and a little buggy had to come and pick us up (might I add, my landing was perfect!!
Neil, my father-in-law and my best friend were down on the ground, not actually having a clue what was going on. They were expecting to see me coming down attached to a purple and white parachute. What they actually saw was a purple and white parachute hurtling to the ground not sure if anyone was attached to it or not. They saw an orange and white parachute land in a different field, and heard a tannoy announcement saying that those that had landed with the orange and white chute in a different field were fine and a buggy was going to get them, but had no way of making that connection to me. So I think it’s safe to say that Neil and the others were quite relieved when he saw me in the buggy being transported back to the airfield.
I was a shaking wreck, but still smiling. Or at least I was until I got a bit tearful. I have to say I was disappointed with what happened after. In that nothing did. As soon as we got back, my instructor disappeared and I didn’t see him again. Some other guy helped me out of my gear along with a cocky comment of “Have you settled up for your extra skydive, because I heard you had two?” (referring to the second freefall). There was no debrief, there was no hot sweet drink offered. Nothing. The most I got was in the conversation with my instructor once the reserve opened where he told me that the chute did open, but the lines were twisted, so it didn’t open fully and that it was his first malfunction in three years.
I am gutted that I haven’t got any photos of my landing, or any of the chute that didn’t open.
Would I do it again? Yes.
Would Neil let me? No. I think I need to work on him a bit more!
I’m booked in to do Go Ape on Thursday. At this moment in time though, I’m not sure it’s a good idea and wondering if it would be pushing my luck!
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