I was more than half way through my round the world trip when the day came where I jumped out of a plane.
It was St Patrick’s day and I was in a little town called Taupo in New Zealand. I know the date exactly because during my travels I kept a hand written diary. I often take a look back at what I was up to on certain days and I am amazed at some of the things I forgot I did – I am so glad I kept a diary.
However, I didn’t forget my sky dive.
I was on a bus tour of the two islands and on that morning we visited some hot mud pools and geysers to watch them blow water 20 feet in the air as well as another stop at Huka falls. New Zealand is such a beautiful country, my memories of the place are of complete awe and utter excitement due to the various ‘Lord of the Rings’ sites I visited during my trip.
I hadn’t planned on doing a sky dive but when we pulled up at the place, I thought ‘why not?’ – as you do!
It just so happens that I was the last to get off the bus, which meant I was the last to put my name on the list. I then had to wait as 21 other people got in line and in groups of about four or five went up in a small by-plane to then do tandem-jumps with their instructors. I was waiting 2 hours in total.
Now 2 hours is a pretty long time to wait in line for anything, let alone something that sounded like a good idea at the time and then with every passing minute you begin to doubt whether you have the guts to do it.
My nerves started getting jittery and just as I thought it was my turn, the plan had to be refuelled, meaning an even longer wait. I was all kitted out in my jump suit and twitching as my adrenaline went into overdrive. For me, this kind of nervous energy just kind of builds. And builds. Until there is only one way to let it go – and that is to cry.
So there I was crying my eyes out. A nearly thirty year old who had travelled solo round South East Asia and Asutralia, sobbing because I didn’t want to jump. But I did!!!! I really did, I was just nervous.
The instructors kept saying I didn’t have to go, but it was a mix of being scared and being excited. I told them in no uncertain terms I was doing it.
Finally it was my turn to get on the plane. Twenty minutes and 12,000 feet later I was being strapped to quite a nice Kiwi man in the most inelegant way, his groin against my buttocks, in the back of the plane. The door was flung open and the cold frigid air whipped at my face. Because I was the last on the plane, meant I was the first out the door.
No turning back.
And there I was, looking down at an expansive aerial view over Taupo, seeing the ‘Lonely Mountain’ in the distance and the tiny spec that was the flight school below. A count of one, two, three and I was airborne.
It is indescribable the feeling of free falling through the air. I thought my tummy would flip but it was so quick, the initial plunge out of the plane, that all I could feel and hear was the cold wind rushing past me and supporting my body as I plummeted. The view was incredible and the few minutes it took to get to parachute deployment seemed like forever.
The cord was pulled by my instructor and it felt like someone had jolted me out of a dream as I suddenly decreased in velocity and the harness felt like someone was giving me a wedgie.
As the ground raced towards me, I had the same feeling as I always do when I’m in a plane coming in for landing – the split second where I think ‘that’s it, it’s all over for me now’. The landing cords were pulled and I scooped my legs up as instructed and we came into a skidded landing on the grass.
Exhilarated, I could barely move, but the realisation that I was sitting on my instructors lap, gave me enough momentum to roll off him once we were unclipped.
Now that, was one of those memories that is burned into my brain. I find it incredible that the wait I had to go through created such an intense reaction. I wasn’t exactly thinking of all the bad things that could happen but it was the unknown that scared AND excited me.
I recently saw a video where Will Smith talks about this very thing. I want to share that with you here….