Getting hotter, sat on some guys lap I’d only just met and feeling a bit shaky sick yet excited, I was in a plane 15,000 feet above New Zealand not as you may have thought, out on the razz at 18 in the local nightclub.
My whole trip had been building up to this point. The chat on the Kiwi Experience bus for the New Zealand road trip for the last two days had been ‘Are you doing a skydive?’ ’15,000 or 12,000ft?’
I was going all out. If I’m launching myself out of a plane attached to some fabric and strings for safety, I might as well go for it good. Whether it was to be my last few minutes or just some more of plenty, I’d decided I was going to make them awesome.
So after getting suited and hatted, no boots for me, I was going for this barefoot, I was ushered onto the plane. As I write this I feel more nervous than I actually did at the time. It all happened so quickly. I was right at the front of the plane which meant I’d be last off dammit. Just wanted to do it now.
It took 20 minutes to get up to 15,000ft. My jumper tapped me on the shoulder at 2,000 feet and told me where we were. You can see on the video below my shock. 2000! Another 13,000ft to go! Barf.
We were told in the safety briefing how our minds can only comprehend heights of 2,000 feet – anything over that all feels the same. I told myself this and scolded myself for reminding myself how high we were going. I stared at the disappearing ground and had waves of fear followed by waves of definite excitement. I couldn’t believe I was actually doing this. Morbidly speaking though, I’d be in more danger leaving my house every day in London than I would jumping with Skydive Taupo – ‘We’ve never had any accidents, not even a broken toe’, they’d told me.
I thought of their tagline, written all over reception:
‘Fear is temporary, achievement is permanent’.
I was going to do this and enjoy it.
Half way up my jumper attached himself to me and reminded me to put my head back and my feet under the plane when we sat on the edge.
He put an oxygen mask on me as up at that height you can develop Hypoxia while you’re in the plane, but jumping is fine.
All too suddenly I realised that we were evening up and the first jumper was getting ready to go. Oh my god. I can’t do this. I’d only just finished thinking that and my jumper was bouncing me along the bench to the exit. This was it. We sat there for about 2 seconds, I put my head back, and off we went into the white abyss of clouds that had formed.
The freefall was so quick, around 70 seconds so I was told. Freefall speeds can be anywhere from 100 to 160mph depending on varying scenarios; over 170 feet per second! These 70 seconds consisted of…
- 1-10 Oh. My. God. I’m going to faceplant New Zealand at 100mph.
- 10-20 My feet are freezing!
- 20-30 This is awesome!
- 30-40 Open my mouth for a comedy video.
- 40-50 Arggghghhhh!
- 50-70 Does this *swearword* parachute work?
And then the parachute opened and I was jolted up. He released the pressure on me a bit – I was terrified he was dropping me out – and he directed me round in circles looking at the beautiful New Zealand countryside.
Honestly, it was absolutely incredible. I got a bit emotional, as you can see from the video, but I just couldn’t believe I’d done it and that I was in New Zealand doing this kind of cool stuff. We had a minute or two parachuting down and admiring the view, then it was time to land. A pretty smooth one I think – although you can see the relief on my face as I touch ground.
The whole skydive experience was totally liberating and definitely strengthening. Now for the next challenge, but what can possibly beat jumping out a plane at 15,000 feet in New Zealand?