As some of you may know, I recently did a parachute jump for Marie Cure Cancer Care. It was quite possibly one of the most surreal and exhilarating experiences I have ever had! What follows is a blow-by-blow account of the jump, looking back I still cant quite believe i did it!
And so it begins…
After an early start (7am) I arrive at the Peterlee parachute centre for the jump. It’s already been put off twice due to bad weather but now there’s no escape as the weather is spot on.
My instructor Billy straps me into the torture harness which makes you walk like a duck with a broom up it’s backside and assures me there’s nothing to worry about. Yeh right Billy, I’m throwing myself out of a perfectly good airplane at 10,000 feet, nothing to worry about at all…
At this point I’m seriously considering backing out but how can I? I mean loads of people have donated money, some even promising to double up if I forget the chute!
It’s seriously nerve wracking simply as you know that you are placing your life in the hands of these guys…
The plane starts up with seven of us crammed into a space the size of my shed. Two tandem jumpers, two cameramen and one loony who has done thousands of jumps and is enjoying telling us about the time his chute didn’t open. Yeh thanks mate, just what my brain/guts/nerves don’t need.
It takes a good 35/40 minutes to get to 10K feet, at this point we’re about 2 minutes from the drop. Looking out of the window I can see Sunderland Football stadium, the north east coast and most of Durham. It’s totally different to any other plane journey as we are bouncing all over and the windows are huge, you really can’t miss a thing.
The door opens and the first set of jumpers chuck themselves out, and then it’s my turn. Billy shuffles us over and tells me to hang out the door. My pulse is up to about 200bpm and I’m quite literally terrified. Eyes screwed shut (me that is), Billy leans forward and throws us out of the plane.
Within seconds we’re doing 120mph+ and I’m screaming like a big pansy but having the time of my life! The fear has evaporated and been replaced with total exhilaration. The sound of wind screaming past you and the ground rushing up is quite indescribable.
Now unless you’ve shoved your head out a plane or a train doing that sort of speed before, you won’t know what it feels like. Basically every inch of you is being pummelled by air, your face is doing an impression of having 1,000 slugs under your skin, you can only just about breathe because of the air rushing into your mouth and the whole thing just completely overpowers your senses.
I mean look at the picture on the left. Does this look like the face of a man in complete control?
Before I knew it though we had dropped to about 5,000 feet and it was time to open the chute. Going from 120mph to about 10mph in such a short space of time exerts up to 5G on your body and hell do you feel it!
It’s like being kicked in the guts and having you stomach pop out of your ear. Once the shock is over you float down thinking “Where’s the ground” and it honestly does feel like you’re flying.
And before you know it, you’re back on solid ground thinking Damn that was fun, can I do it again?! Would I do it again? Hell yes. I’m chuffed to bits not just about the sponsorship money which was the key to this exercise but also that I had the nerve to actually go through with it.