It’s been a blustery week of lifetime firsts: a helicopter ride followed by a skydiving experience. The helicopter has left me with more bruises than expected. Strong wind from the propellers and a bad footing on the shingle and rocks I was clambering over to get to the aircraft after a morning’s hike in remote terrain, meant I somewhat ungracefully clattered to the ground, and now sport a rather unattractive bruise on my arm and a fair number of cuts to my leg. Wounds aside; it was worth the experience.
The second lifetime first was skydiving…to be accurate, indoor skydiving, (hands up, it sounds like a cop out, but what sane person throws themselves from a plane with just a sheet of fabric for support, I ask you?!).
I sold the idea to a few friends and yesterday we convened in front of the large transparent wind tunnel, only to find our hearts in our throats as the reality of what we were about to do sunk in. We kitted out in rather stylish ear plugs, eye mask, helmet and a jumpsuit, and felt a sizeable amount of fear while waiting to be called up. Meanwhile I imagined I was about to jump from a plane; I’m not convinced it helped, as suddenly it was my turn.
I pulled my arms tight to my chest, lent forward as the instructor encouraged, and in a short move was horizontal with arms out and legs straight, a few feet from the wind tunnel floor. My instructor, using hand signals to direct me to keep my chin up and arms forward, after a few moments let go and I was flying on my own. Although each flight lasts around a minute, it was a freeing experience and one I couldn’t help smiling throughout. As I found out on my second flight, smiling was certainly better than dribble sliding up my face.
On the second flight the instructor took me to the top of the wind tunnel and then plummeted us down swiftly to the starting position around four times. In last few seconds, he spun us around the tunnel as we came back to the ground. Surprisingly despite my fear of heights, I enjoyed the experience and adrenaline outweighed any nausea.
Beaming, I took my place back on the bench to watch how my friends fared in the tunnel (all exceptional flyers by the way). Pumped from the flight, I announced how I’d be tempted to try a real skydive. I was met with a few groans and now with the benefit of hindsight, I admit I think it was the adrenaline talking!