After 9 months of preparation, last Friday team skydive took a leap of faith at 15,000 feet to raise money for the British Heart Foundation. An unforgettable day for all involved.
At 10 o’clock on a Friday morning I’m usually settled in the office, coffee in hand, getting stuck into some writing. That’s a normal Friday, however… last week was a little different.
Myself, Sorrel, Adam and Jon drove up to Black Knights Skydiving Centre, just south of Lancaster, to do something that goes totally against every bit of rational thinking - namely to jump out of a moving plane at over 11,000 feet! Clearly something you must have to be extremely crazy foolish brave to even consider.
We left early in order to get to the centre in time for our check-in time of 8am. As we drove north, the sun rose higher to unveil a beautiful, clear day. The view from the top was destined to be amazing.
This was much appreciated, and not only for the views - skydives are dependent on good weather. Too much cloud or too much wind and you’re likely to have to spend the day at the dropzone, waiting for the weather to settle. There’s a chance you could even pass the entire day at the centre waiting, just to have to reschedule for another day.
By the time we got to the skydive centre, my previous nerves evaporated slightly as I began to get a handle on what an amazing thing we were all about to do. We checked in and Adam and I were given a quick safety demonstration whilst the others waited, as we had decided to jump earlier.
All we had to do now was wait until our names were called, a wait which, for me at least, was a little nerve-wracking - a bit like waiting outside the headteacher’s office…
Adam’s name was called first. He emerged from the shed a few minutes later in a jumpsuit, harness and protective hat, all ready for the jump.
Alongside his tandem instructor, Adam and six other jumpers bundled into the tiny Cessna Caravan aeroplane only to be disrupted on their first take-off attempt.
From the ground it is very difficult to see the skydivers during free-fall - the plane goes so high you can barely see it, let alone any of the skydivers that jump. You can only see them when the parachutes open. They appear out of nowhere.
We saw Adam’s parachute appear about ten minutes after he took off and he fell safely to ground.
Hearing Adam say it was one of the best things he’d ever done and that the 60 seconds of freefall wasn’t long enough filled me with confidence about my jump.
I was next up - I was given a jumpsuit and protective helmet to put on and introduced to my tandem instructor, Neil, and quickly got on the plane.
The ride up was a strange experience. You sit down in front of your instructor and are strapped to them harness to harness whilst they firmly drill into you the safety procedures over and over again from the moment you take off.
As we got higher and higher, what I was about to do began to seem more and more surreal. By the time the plane stopped climbing and the door opened, jumping out seemed less like a scary thing to do and more like a bonkers thing to experience. I was less nervous than I would’ve expected, considering I was just about to freefall out of a plane.
I was last to jump on my plane of eight tandem pairs, so I watched seven couples shuffle along their seats, be pushed along the floor and then disappear instantly out the door before it was my turn.
After reaching the door, I was suspended for a bizarre moment hanging out the plane door, my legs under the plane. I could see the Lancashire coast far below me. I had barely a moment to think before my tandem instructor jumped and we fell to the ground.
The first few seconds, where you rapidly accelerate, were insane; the closest thing I can relate it to would be a roller-coaster but this doesn’t really compare - the feeling is much freer. After these first few manic seconds, I was filled with a floating feeling as I hit terminal velocity and stopped accelerating.
It honestly felt like I was flying. The incredible views, the cold wind on my face - wow! It went beyond any explanation.
The freefall seemed to last for ages, but in reality it was only 30 seconds before I felt a massive jolt as the parachute was deployed.
The parachute flight down was great, but it didn’t compare to the unrestrained sensation of free-falling. My instructor did a few sharp turns to get us in position for our landing and, before I knew it, I was back on terra firma.
Jon and Sorrel were called to jump soon after I landed and the same process followed. They came out of the preparation shed a few minutes later, in jumpsuits and helmets, all ready to skydive.
They took off and climbed all the way up to 15,000 feet. From the ground, we could hear the plane engine drop off as they skydived.
A minute or so later, their parachutes appeared and they soared back down to land safely back at the airfield, all in one piece.
I think we all agreed that the skydive was an amazing (if slightly scary) experience and a momentous achievement. It was a great thing to have done as part of the ClientsFirst team.
Most importantly, alongside our trekkers, we managed to raise over £7,000, £2,000 more than our initial target for the British Heart Foundation. This is a significant sum of money that can really make a difference, a small change albeit but a difference nonetheless, in the fight against heart disease.
A massive thank you to everyone who donated to our fundraising campaign!