Ladies and gentlemen I have done it! I have finally skydived from 14,000 feet and (spoiler alert) I survived.
I woke up bright and early. The weatherman had said there was a slight chance of showers so as I tentatively opened my eyes I half expected it to be pouring with rain . It’s wasn’t. It was a perfect sunny spring day. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.
Somehow I had amassed an entourage and along with said entourage (dad, mum, my brother and his gorgeous girlfriend Amy), we set off for York. Traffic was light and we got there 45 minutes earlier then my designated 10 am check-in. It seemed nothing was going to prevent me from diving this time. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that either.
When I initially booked my skydive in December last year I had warned them about my disability and informed them that I would need a little bit of extra help. The skydive had been postponed twice since then and so I expected them to be slightly taken aback when I waddled in. They weren’t. Quite the opposite in fact. They bent over backwards to make me comfortable. They even found a way for me to be able to keep my hearing aid on during the jump which was a relief as I was terrified I would miss vital instructions.
There is so much to do to prepare for a skydive. There are forms to be signed (ie it’s not our fault if you die etc.) , training to do where you learn the dos and don’ts and clothes to change into. It’s a little bit like preparing for surgery only this time you hope you DON’T get knocked out.
I had my harness on (Gee that thing was heavy) and embarrassingly, head protection (that’s how I kept my hearing aid on). It was now time to meet my tandem skydiving instructor, Tom. He was very good looking, enthusiastic and sounded exactly like James Blunt when he spoke. I was very impressed with this pairing.
We slowly waddled towards the plane and in customary Nina style I awkwardly clambered aboard. By this stage I was surprisingly feeling very zen. I was already on the plane and it was making its way to our drop height. There was no backing out now.
I kept my eyes firmly fixed on the door. Any minute now it was going to open and I would have to jump out of it. There were three of us jumping, me and two other young guys. Of the three I am pleased to report that I was the only one who did not scream like a girl when I leapt out. In fact I remained completely mute for the entire 60 second freefall (part fear and part inability to breathe). This is possibly the longest time I have ever remained silent without being unconscious. And yes, I do have video evidence to prove it.
The actual exit from the plane happened very quickly. One second I was scooting on my bottom towards the door, The next my feet were dangling out of the plane and then suddenly we were free falling. This was an odd experience . At first I was struggling to breathe (until I tried closing my mouth and breathing through my nose) and I became slightly panicked. Once I had that down pat I was able to fully experience the falling. We were plummeting at approximately 200 km/h and with my eyes unable to focus it looked as though I was diving into the abyss .
Suddenly the parachute deployed. The sound of wind whizzing past me stopped and all was calm and quiet. From my sitting position I was finally able to appreciate how high up I was and thanks to it being a “good eye day”, fully appreciate the beautiful scenery. As we gently did a few spins, swooped a bit and floated serenely, I was really starting to enjoy myself and I was grinning like a Cheshire cat. But all too soon Tom call “legs up” and we softly landed on the ground.
The second I landed I wanted to go up again. It was even more fun than jet boating (which I have done three times) and that’s saying something!
I am so glad I did it but the problem now is that everything else seems so boring by comparison. Fear not though, I have already chosen my next big adventure. I’m going to do aerobatics in a fighter jet because I now have the need for speed.
I don’t know about white men but white girls definitely can jump.
Skydiving mission accomplished!