- 4.5 hours of waiting –
- 1 plane –
- 6 nervous skydivers strapped to 6 experienced tandem instructors –
- 15,000 feet/3 miles above the ground –
- 60 seconds/2 miles of freefall –
- 6,000 feet parachute deployed –
- 1 smooth landing –
- 1 ecstatic Shelle –
I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a bit of an adrenalin junkie.
I spent a year backpacking around Australia when I turned 30, and I made sure I tried as many fun activities as I possibly could then. Paragliding, a helicopter ride, boogie boarding, wind surfing (I was spectacularly hopeless at this), hang gliding; if it took me out of my comfort zone, I tried it. I also did a skydive, where I landed on the beach on the North East coast. I think I jumped from a height of 14,000 feet.
Fast forward 20 years and, as I’m embarking on 50 challenges to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK, it seemed inevitable that a skydive would feature. So, when my lovely fundraising coordinator, Lucy, told me of an ARUK skydive day, I had to get involved.
I chose to complete my jump at Old Sarum airfield in Salisbury. My friends Sarah and Nick live nearby and they donated to my fund in exchange for setting me this challenge. Of course, I dragged Sarah down to support me, along with some other local friends (thank you to Sarah, Steph, Louise, Colin, Shane and Pepper the dog).
A familiar flutter of nerves
I was taking the whole thing in my stride until I woke up on the Sunday morning and the magnitude of what I was about to do hit me. I may have done it before, but that was a long time ago. I felt that familiar flutter of nerves!
I’d been given the option to upgrade to a higher jump – 15,000 feet instead of 10,000, which I went for, and I’m really glad I did.
I arrived bright and early at 8am and was chuffed to meet a fellow jumper who was also raising money for Alzheimer’s Research UK (hi Becca!) We kept each other company while waiting for the weather to improve. Gradually, the sun burned off the mist, and our friends trickled in to sit out the wait with us. It turned into a lovely, social affair in the sunshine.
Then, suddenly, all the waiting was over and it was my turn to get kitted out, receive my training, and take to the skies. My instructor, Mack, was very thorough and looked after me well. The anxiety kicked in as the plane took off, but mostly I was excited.
That moment that you leave the plane is definitely a little tense, but there’s not much time to think about it, really. And, with an instructor strapped to your back, there’s no option than to just go for it!
60 second freefall
I found I was glad I’d done it before, because I knew what to expect and could really focus on the experience, and the view. Jumping from 15,000 feet – that’s three miles up, by the way – meant a 60 second freefall. So, falling through the air for two miles at 125 mile per hour with no parachute up… Incredible! The wind in your face literally takes your breath away and the noise is phenomenal.
Mack deployed the parachute at 6,000 feet and then the whole world went quiet. We floated gracefully down to a smooth landing on the airfield.
One of the highlights of the view was Old Sarum, an iron age fortification on the edge of Salisbury plain, high above the city of Salisbury.
Unfortunately, the mist blocked the view of the coast but, apparently, on a clear day, you can see all the way to the Isle of Wight. Wow!
So, was it worth the wait? Absolutely. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat!
Click here to watch a video of my landing – and give me a follow on Instagram while you’re there 🙂 Thanks.