Well it finally happened, after years of procrastinating I went and jumped out of a plane!
For my birthday a couple of years back Sally bought me a voucher from Skydive Australia for a tandem skydive at Barwon Heads. When I opened the envelope I was rapt, I’d wanted to do it forever but as with all expensive activities like this I just didn’t get around to organizing it. There was one small hurdle though, as our regular readers know, Sally likes to save money wherever she can and in this case she booked a midweek jump. For a normal person not really a problem, just take a leave day from work and get into it, right? We’re not normal people though are we, with all the holidays and weekends away that Sally books and the fact that I have to take enforced leave at Christmas, I never have enough leave. The last two Christmases I’ve had to take leave without pay, much to the displeasure of my boss! Luckily the voucher was valid for 18 months so I had plenty of time, so I thought, I ended up jumping 1 week before it expired.
I had booked it for the Monday before Christmas the year I got it but it was cancelled due to weather before I even left home. Last year was very busy for us with travel and activities as regular readers would know, so it wasn’t until the same Monday before Christmas last year that I booked in again. This time we actually got down to Barwon Heads which is on Victoria’s Surf Coast and Sally’s Brother-in-Law decided to join me. Unfortunately, after spending 4 hours trying to entertain the kids, we were cancelled again due to lingering low cloud. I was starting to worry now, the voucher was expiring in the coming February, we had Christmas holidays coming up and I had no more leave. Was this going to cost Sally more than what she’d saved?
I booked again for the week before the voucher expired and bang, 30 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. Finally the day was here and I was very excited. I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie and this is probably about as intense as it will get for me. I arrived at the airport, checked in and waited for the B-I-L to arrive. We were going on the third flight for the morning, so we watched the obligatory safety video and kicked back to wait our turn. At this point I was pretty relaxed and a bit excited at the same time. Sally had to drop the kids at school before she came down to watch, it’s about a 80 min drive from our place to Barwon Heads and with my check in at 10 she thought she would have plenty of time before I actually jumped. Once we knew what time roughly we were going to jump I gave her a call to see how far away she was. Traffic! She was stuck in traffic and was still an hour away, oh well she’ll just have to watch the video.
We went out to watch the first group jump and it was a bit of an appetiser to what was to come. We heard the drone of the plane as it approached the airfield, then almost silence as the pilot backed off for everyone to jump out. Then little black dots started dropping from the plane one by one and as they got closer we could start to hear the screams of excitement. The parachutes opened and they swooped in to the landing zone one at a time. The smiles and thumbs up from the first group got me even more excited. As the second group boarded the plane it was time for us to get into our harnesses and get briefed from our dive partners.
As we waited for the second group to land our cameramen interviewed us for our video (it was an extra $189 for the cameraman to jump with you and film it), we had another quick go over the procedure and had our harnesses rechecked. Now it was our turn to board the plane and I have to admit that I was starting to get a few butterflies. It’s nice and cosy on the plane, there’s two bench seats running up the centre that we straddled facing the back. Because you have to get your harness attached to your partner I felt like I was almost sitting on Kras’s lap, a bit weird. So everyone’s loaded on, off we go and as we taxi to the end of the runway there is a slight increase in the butterfly action.
We take off and start our climb to 14,000 feet (a bit over 4200 metres) out over 13th Beach, about half way up the cameraman films another interview. Now I’m really getting nervous and at the same time really excited as well, it really is a weird feeling. The pilot calls 5 minutes to the jump zone and Kras hooks up my harness to his, now we’re really cosy. I notice my breathing getting deeper but there are no doubts, I’m actually about to jump out of a plane and free fall for about 60 seconds at around 200 km an hour!! It’s time, the engine’s revs drop, the door is opened and the first couple of jumpers go, they are going on their own. We scootch down towards the open door, my heart’s beating faster and I watch my B-I-L slide to the doorway and in a split second he’s gone. There’s one more before me and now I just want to get out, not get it over with as such, I just want to do it. Poof, the bloke in front of me is gone, finally it’s my turn and we slide into position.
It’s pretty hairy now, because I’m strapped to the front of Kras and he is sitting in the doorway, so I feel like I’m hanging outside the plane It’s a similar feeling to the moment just before you jump from a bungy tower when the bungy cord feels like it’s going to pull you over the edge, just way more intense. There’s no counting or anything like that, Kras just puts his hand on my forehead to keep my head back and we just fall forwards. I think I said this in my Macau bungy post but, Oh My God! We did a bit of a tumble as we fell out, yes you don’t actually jump, you fall. Kras got us up the right way and it was on, down we went, what an amazing feeling. The wind is really loud in my ears and I don’t think I even thought to look down to try and appreciate how fast we were falling but it was a huge rush. I did make sure I took in the views though, I could almost see what felt like the entire southern coast of Victoria. My cameraman was in my face snapping away, I gave him two thumbs up and I think I forgot to take them down in the excitement, the control they have is amazing, he stayed with us and even circled us a couple of times and got some really amazing pics.
Kras gave me a tap on the shoulder to let me know he was about to open the chute and then bang we pulled up and the cameraman disappeared. Now I could really appreciate the views and they were spectacular, as I said before it was about 30 degrees Celsius and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I asked Kras to do a couple of spins and he pulled down hard on one of the ropes and around we went, then what seemed like out of nowhere there was the ground coming at us fast. Even with the chute you still come down really quick, I lifted my legs like we were instructed and bang we were down on our butts.
The grin on my face was from ear to ear and once I stood up I couldn’t keep still, the cameraman asked me a few more questions and then there were high fives all around. Once I settled down a bit I could hear someone calling out from the distance, it was Sal, she made it just in time to see us land and was screaming out to us from amongst the trees. She ran over to us and I think her grin was just as big as mine, now she reckons she’s going to do it when we go to Airlie Beach in March, I’d like to see that.
Thanks Sal for a great experience, one more thing off my non-existent Bucket List, Sal keeps telling me to write one. This is something I highly recommend all adrenaline junkies and thrill seekers do at least once, I’m hoping to do it again one day, they reckon you’re able to take in a lot more second time around.
Until Sally books me in for something else, bye for now. Have you ever sky dived? Tell me about your experience in the comments below.
Craig & Co
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