Man is not meant to fly. The words continued to bounce around my head as I made my way out to Mother City Sky Diving. In just over an hour I would be making my first tandem jump and it’s fair to say I was feeling a touch nervous. Okay, so I was terrified…
It is impossible to try and get your head around skydiving, because quite simply, there is nothing to compare it to. I am not a huge fan of flying and while I am not scared of heights, I do not actively seek them out. So why would I choose to leap out of a plane? I was asking myself the same question as I pulled up to the drop zone.
Part of the fear is the unknown. I was not afraid of death or severe injury, but I was scared of something. What if I froze? What if I puked? Hell, what if I soiled myself? I was wearing tan pants after all… By the time I got out of my car I had managed to generate so much self-doubt, it’s a miracle I even let them put me in the harness, let alone step onto the plane.
I decided to be honest and immediately told Mother City SkyDiving’s Drop Zone operator Mike Rumble how terrified I was. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t the first time he heard such an admission and immediately set about placating me, before handing me over to Fred, the guy who would be pulling the strings during my jump.
Fred jumped for the first time 10 years ago and has successfully completed more than 3000 since then. Yes, I asked. During that time he has also become a master of psychology, managing to read people well enough to know what to say. So no gallows humour for the guy he had strapped to him this time around. Instead, he constantly reminded me that I was just there for the ride, to enjoy the view and most of all, have fun.
“Sure, what’s the worst that could happen?” I thought morosely. Well, you are jumping out of a plane at more than 10 000 feet, so death is a very real possibility. But then every time you get in a car you are risking grave injury or worse and that doesn’t stop me getting behind the wheel.
Once I had shuffled myself into the plane, I knew there was no turning back, although that still didn’t stop me from toying with the idea of pulling out. That option was thankfully never verbalised by anybody in the plane and when the door finally sprung open at around 11 000 feet I reluctantly stepped out.
BEST. DECISION. EVER.
It is almost impossible to explain the feeling when you step out into open air, but I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I told you I had an out of body experience. Because even looking at the video (see below), I still can’t believe I am in it. The free-fall was surreal. What I can tell you is that the first three-to-four seconds was scary, but once I opened my arms, it became the most exhilarating experience of my life.
The second I realised I was literally flying through the air, I embraced the experience, exuberantly throwing out multiple thumbs-ups and any other gestures I felt would sufficiently illustrate my uncontained joy. The freefall lasts for around 40-60 seconds, but it seems like a lifetime before the chute is opened, which provides you with a thrill-ride of its own. As you manoeuvre through the air, floating from above with the world at your feet, you get to take in the view, which is unrivalled.
When I arrived in Malmesbury for my jump I was thinking of ways I could get out it. By the time I had landed, the only thing on my mind was ‘when can I do it again?’
So yes, man is not meant to fly, but that never stopped us from chasing it and nothing beats that feeling when you spread your arms and soar through the sky. Nothing.