Saturday, 4 February 2012

I did it!

After what can only be deemed a dreadful night's sleep, the day I've been anticipating finally arrived. No, not the big 3 - 0 -, but the day I promised to complete a tandem skydive in aid of the UK eating disorders charity, BEAT  (If you're new to my blog, you can find out why I chose to do this here.) With forecasts of snow for pretty much the whole of the UK, I was really quite concerned that it may be postponed, and thus all the psyching myself up I've been doing would have been in vain. But, fortunately, as you can see from my photos, the sky was as blue as blue could be, and although the temperature on the ground was hovering just below zero (degrees celcius), it was a crisp and beautiful morning, and nothing was going to stop the jump going ahead.

I was scheduled to arrive at the airfield at 8.30am, but was warned that I could be there until sunset if the centre was busy. Fortunately, it being the middle of winter, most people were still wrapped up warm in bed on a freezing cold Saturday morning, so it was very quiet and I was booked onto the first jump of the day - something of a relief since I think the longer I waited around the more nervous I would have become.

By 9.30 I'd met my tandem diver, (Dave - none other than the world record holder for the highest landing of any skydive - he apparently landed on top of a hot air balloon. Don't believe me? You-tube it!) I'd had my safety drill and was strapped tightly to Dave in a tiny plane that was swiftly ascending to 12 thousand feet with 7 or 8 other novice and experienced skydivers. 

The views from the plane were utterly breathtaking and, whilst I have never been particularly afraid of flying, it made me wonder why anyone would find this anything other than awe-inspiring. I was completely grateful for Dave's experience though, as it was a relief to feel that I was in safe hands as we made the final preparations for the jump. Instead of panicking about what might happen, I felt confident that I was well looked after and that I could (try to) concentrate on enjoying the experience. 
photo copyright Richard Wheatley, British Parachute Schools
Once at the desired altitude (about 12 thousand feet), there was no time to think, just a few last minute checks, and we were out of the plane. With no parachute and only Dave and gravity as my friend, I thought I would find it hard to concentrate on anything other than the fear of hitting the ground, but I found it surprisingly exhilarating. We fell free-fall for about a minute before the parachute was released, and I enjoyed every last second (as you can probably tell from the silly smile (no, that wasn't just  g-force, honestly) on my face in the picture above!)
photo copyright Richard Wheatley, British Parachute Schools
When the parachute was finally released, I was amazed by how serene it felt to be floating through the air: my sister had raved about this after parascending in Turkey, but I think it's got to be experienced to be believed. From way up in the sky, it's easy to believe that you're the only person alive, and that you are merely surveying the land laid out before you.
photo copyright Richard Wheatley, British Parachute Schools
I can't imagine a better way to usher in a new decade of my life. I know it's cliched but it was completely empowering: the adrenaline rush of the skydive, followed by the calm serenity of the parachute to earth was a perfect reflection of how I hope to embrace life in the future.

Here's to 30 years on earth. And here's to the next 30 being even better than the first!


(oh, and just in case you're feeling flush, and would like to donate to an EXTREMELY worthy cause, my charity sponsorship page is online for just a few more days at www.doitforcharity.com/hannahj - please consider it if you can)

3 comments:

  1. Wow your braver than I am. I'm terrified at the though of doing this!

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  2. This is AMAZING, Hannah! In so many ways. :)

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  3. Aw thanks Elizabeth and Hannah. It was amazing!

    My fundraising total is now at £800 pre-gift aid. I'm so grateful to everyone who donated - it really is an amazing cause!

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