“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.” ― J.M. Barrie,
I don’t think I ever quite understood the concept of flying until I jumped out of a plane and fell 200km/hr for 30 seconds before sailing calmly down to the ground. But before I made the jump…
It took about 6 months of contemplation before I made the booking and took the plunge. It is definitely better doing something like this with your friend and having someone with you before, during and after the experience. It all started with a promise I made with a friend about eight months ago.
In the days leading up to the jump I questioned the reasons I wanted to take this leap. Skydiving is such a luxury! I can’t emphasise this enough. After doing the jump I don’t believe it is as risky as I initially thought, but before the jump you really do consider the possibility of death. People often don’t have the choice to place themselves into risky situations: war torn areas, dangerous living conditions, lack of access to food, water and shelter etc. And here I am rendering myself helpless to the fate of the wind and the hands of a stranger. I am paying money to place myself in this situation! So why?
It’s a unique experience; it’s a triumph over personal fear; the view is amazing; the adrenaline rush is intense; it subverts your mentality towards fear; it makes you stronger and unbeatable; it’s a personal challenge; it’s a popular bucket-list item; it’s surreal; because I can …
When I told this last reason to my dad, he quoted George Mallory back to me:
Why did you want to climb Mount Everest?
“Because it’s there.” – George Mallory
And hey, isn’t that what life is all about? We like to challenge ourselves, we are given the life we currently have and we do with it what we can to make it the most enjoyable, the most satisfying and I guess the most fulfilling we can. Success feels so great and to overcome a feat such a skydiving for the first time, is a success that can make you feel alive and make you feel like you’ve achieved something you thought was impossible before.
Thinking back, the lead up to the day itself was exciting. My heart was racing, my thoughts were churning and adrenaline was flowing through my blood. It is a lot worse when you’re left to your own thoughts. Maybe it’s just a girl thing, but you tend to overcomplicate the consequences and risk. (Or maybe that was just me.) The night before, it took me an hour to get to sleep, when it usually takes under a minute. However, those nerves all changed when I woke on the day of the jump and met my tandem partner, Ben.
TL;DR The Jump Experience
Our jump was scheduled for 8:00am. We arrive, fill out our forms, make our payment (including an additional insurance payment we decided to add in the case of injury or death), go to the toilet and hear our name called to the preparation area.
As soon as I meet Ben, I relax. He’s confident, assertive and well experienced. Brenda on the other hand was paired with more of a jokester, which was a little more unnerving. Ben runs over the positions I need to be in once I leave the plane, when I’m flying and when I land. We gear up and head into the plane.
Before the day of the skydive I read quite a few articles, which mostly agreed that the flight up was the most nerve wrecking. But I surprised myself with how calm I was, even at the point when my legs were out of the plane and we’re about to fall. The only time I was concerned was when the plane was still ascending and I thought we were going to jump too close to the earth and wouldn’t have enough time to fall and open the parachute.
But then we jump! Obviously I scream, but it’s calming! I don’t even know if that makes sense, but free-falling is serene. And that’s what flying is about.
You’re not rushing past buildings (so you can’t completely judge the speed you’re falling at), you’re not worrying about tomorrow, you’re barely thinking at all. You feel the wind touch your body and watch the earth below. Picton is mostly countryside, so the ground below appeared very soft and inaccurately cosy.
The parachute pulls upwards and then you float downwards. I can see the sun glistening off the water from the coast in the distance, the Nepean river flowing between the bushland and farmlands stretching out below. It reminded be of an eagle eye’s view of Sim City and it reminded Ben of Legoland. Looking down I see my converse shoes hovering in the air over the land below and I can’t quite believe that it’s real. It’s definitely a surreal experience.
Perhaps if I was more nervous on the flight up, it would have been a greater epinephrine release and I would be saying it was the biggest adrenaline rush of my life. But it was gentle, calm and relaxing!
So as J.M Barrie implied in Peter Pan, you just need to have a little belief, a little hope, the yearn for success over the improbable and I guess a little craziness, and you’ll be able to fly.
(Brenda’s flying experience)