I'm still alive. :) WARNING – THE FOLLOWING PART ABOUT THE JUMP IS VERY DETAILED. IT IS MORE FOR MY OWN MEMORY OF EVENTS THAN FOR BORING THE ARSES OFF YOU LOT, SO FEEL FREE TO IGNORE IT. :)
17.05.2006 9 °C
So the next morning it was freezing and I didn’t want to get up out of bed at all. The girl had booked me in to jump earlier this morning – 9am. So I got up and dressed. Surprisingly I wasn’t nervous in the slightest. Maybe it was because it was too early for me to feel anything. I rang the company and they said that yes indeed they would be going ahead with jumps today. I said ‘hmm’ and got myself ready and waited outside.
When the bus did pull up, I had been chatting to two Danish girls who were also jumping with me. They were nervous as hell. I tried to calm them with statistics about skydiving that I’d read off the kitchen wall in the hostel…….
E.g. most of the instructors have over 3500 jumps under their belts.. The girl instructor also did tandem jumps with Ricky Martin…
It seemed to do nothing to assuage their fears. I on the other hand was really excited, no nervousness in my tummy, and had a huge stupid grin on my face continuously. We picked up another couple, the girl was bloody terrified. She spent the entire time
once we arrived at the jump center saying things like “why are we doing this?” And “we might die” etc etc.
I still maintained my grin, my excitement and ignored her, and repeated those earlier statistics in my head.
When we arrived at the jump center, it was all go go go! It was a very colourful building on the outside with things like “Feel the rush” printed above the door, whilst inside was a hive of activity. There was a big black tarpaulin cover on the floor, on which several barefooted people were jumping and squeezing things (parachutes) into backpacks, then pulling huge bundles of string together, folding more things and finally hanging the prepared backpack (i.e. chute) up a roundabout type clothesline thingy.
We all signed in, giving our next of kin details and reading all the small print and then we were handed over to this big Maori guy who pushed and pulled us into our red jumpsuits and harnesses. I had a chat about Peru with him whilst grinning like a maniac. Then I put on my bum bag, which was actually a life jacket, in case we landed in the lake. He he (yet ooherrr)
After I was kitted out in a fetching egghead style hat and goggles, I waited outside to watch the previous group of jumpers come in to land. It looked cool and I was even more excited (if possible – think Christmas eve when you’re seven years old). Me and another guy started to clap and cheer the first one into land (knob alert). They came bombing in, despite the fact that they look like they’re floating down to earth, the speed is fenomin.. phenominabl..phenomenal.. eh.. It’s really fast!
So once we were all suited up, the dvd guy (we had all chosen to get the free ground dvd that was thrown in with the offer) sidled up to us swishly and took some cheesy footage. Then a big hulk of a man came up to us (I instantly knew he was my guy) and said “Lisa?” and I go “yep!” and he goes “Hi I’m Dan, I’ll be your instructor today” and I go “Cool – great” (and in my head I go YES!! He’s humongous. ) Safety is paramount kids.)
So after 20 mins, we all trek outside to the brightly painted, perfectly good plane and one by one we climb up into the airplane, with a last scary look at the dvd guy. There were two long benches inside the plane, one beside the door and one nearer the pilot. I was one of the first in so I was squeezed all the way down the inside bench beside the pilot. The door was rolled shut and we were off. My guy started to talk about cars to another instructor so I was left to my own thoughts and devices whilst staring out the window. All I could think was “holy shit, this is definitely going ahead” and instead of vomiting right there and then, I just started smiling again.
Dan gives me the thumbs up sign, so I thumb up him back. He says “Right, when we get to the door tuck your fingers in here and dangle your legs out, then when we jump tuck your legs back between mine and push your head right back like a banana shape, then when I tap you on the shoulder put your arms out". I nod and think “WHAT??? Eh can you repeat the part about the thing”…
Then all of a sudden, the plane slows down. Some silent horn is sounded and all the instructors start clicking themselves onto us and pulling cords so tight that I think my stomach is going to pop out of my gob. We get to 13000 ft or thereabouts and the door opens, and the first guy is gone…
whoosh goes another couple (they’re all tandem jumps).
The pilot shouts “Too Fast”.
We wait a few seconds.
Another guy is gone.
We all shuffle up towards the door a bit.
I can feel the wind now.
Then the moany girl is gone, her pigtails tucked up into her hat! Then another one.
Goggles go on.
The tightest goggles in the land I may add.
I’m the only one left, we have shuffled all the way down to the door at this stage.
The pilot shouts “Too Fast” and we wait maybe 4 seconds.
We shuffle to the door and my legs are dangling out the door of the plane.
They are nearly taken off with the strength of the wind.
I peek out and Dan pushes my head back.
I peek out again and he pushes my head back again.
I can see Dan's hand against the inside of the plane and
HOLY SHIT WE’RE OUT THE DOOR!!.
Nothing can EVER prepare you for it and there is bog all words to describe the feeling. Complete fear, my insides jump right out of my mouth as I take a huge gasp in and try to catch my breath. Fucking Hell. All I can see is blue. I can’t even shout or scream for a few seconds. I try to look up to look around and all the wind rushes up my nose and into my mouth and I can’t breathe so I look back down again and try and grab some air but then Dan taps me on the shoulder and I have to put out my arms and I’m like HOOOOOLLLEEEEEEESHIIIITTTTT. And we are bombing towards the ground and there is no feeling of weightlessness or any of that bollix, there is a feeling of “I weigh a fucking tonne and Dan does too and we are fucking bombing along”.
This all happens in the space of five seconds or so. Then I start to smile my head off and try and look up and around again but the lack of breathing ability forces me to look down again.
I go ‘Jesus I Don’t know what to say.. It’s absolutely amazing.., but "bleughbleughbleugh" comes out.
I can see the blue of the lake, patches of trees and then we’re twirling around a bit and then WHOMMMPH. The parachute is released and all I can see is my legs clad in what seems like an orange prison suit and my feet dangling below me and I go
“Wow this is awesome”!
(I’m sorry, we’ve been here a bit long and everything is awesome).
Inside I’m thinking ‘Thanks be to jaysus the parachute worked, even if a bird pecked a hole in it now, we’d probably still survive.. (I know – weirdo). And then you get to look around properly and you can hear yourself talk and it’s absolutely off the fucking scale. I don’t know how to compare it to anything I’ve ever done because it doesn’t fit into the normal ‘good’ and ‘bad’ parameters of stuff.
I tell Dan he has a great job and he says ‘it’s choice alright”. Then he twirls us around a bit and my belly goes all wobbley as for a few second it feels like we’re not in control anymore (are they ever?) and the scenery is amazing. The sky is blue, there are no clouds and the sun is shining. We can see for miles around. We spin a bit more and then continue to float down for maybe a couple of minutes more (who knows?)
Then I can see some of the others and a couple of them have landed. Then the ground starts to come rushing up beneath us. Dan says “Lift up your feet until I tell you to stand up” and so the grass is nearly below us and he says “standup, standup and run” and my little legs are running before I even hit the ground and then we come in for a very good landing.
I resist the urge to bodypop Dan and instead give him a high five.
We’re instructed to form a line and jump up and down like loonies shouting - for the dvd. Which we do gladly as we’re all so feckin hepped up on goofballs, that we couldn’t care less about looking like ejits.
Although I’m unsure as to whether those images will come back to haunt us. We all blab about it together, as you do when you do something fantastic, and tell each other about how scary/exciting/windy it was and how we couldn’t breathe/fell over/landed on our arse etc etc. Then we took some pics and were all unburdened of our harnesses, jumpsuits, hats & money. We hustled into the dvd room to watch ourselves looking cheesy (one of the girls couldn’t stop getting sick outside) and then we bundled back into the Freefall Bus and were dropped off home.
I arrived back at the lodge to waffle the ears off poor Jimbob – telling him all about it whilst we had some breakfast.
Then we hopped onto a bus and head for the hills – aka Tauranga.