MY SKYDIVE EXPERIENCE

I FINALLY JUMPED OUT OF A PLANE!

What a flippin’ amazing experience. Today, the day I’m writing this but not the day you’re reading this, the 3rd of June 2017 I finally jumped out of a plane and did my SkyDive for Parkinson’s UK after fundraising for 15 weeks.

If you read my previous post on the subject ‘I’m SkyDiving for Parkinson’s U.K’ you’ll know that I’ve been working really hard the last few months to raise money for this charity that is really close to my heart after sadly losing my Uncle to a long battle of Parkinson’s Disease. My jump date had been scheduled months ago and ever since I’ve been counting down to today in excitement to finally tick another HUGE thing off my bucket list whilst doing something really special for charity.

I might have touched on it on my previous Parkinson’s post, but my reason for skydiving for charity was of course in memory of my Uncle. At the very beginning of February my Uncle grew his wings and after struggling for the next two weeks on the run up to his funeral and afterwards I decided that enough was enough. I was obviously feeling extremely low and sad, struggling to find the positive in anything each day. A thought popped into my head and I knew I had to pursue it. That’s when I emailed Parkinson’s UK and explained my situation and how I would love to skydive mid year for them.

The lovely team returned to my email with so much excitement, telling me that they are aiming to light the sky up with Parkinson’s fundraisers in their campaign “jump June“. It felt so right, so I booked and paid for my deposit and went ahead with the planning. The very first day I set up my JustGiving page, one of my friends donated and got me off on a great start and from there donations have come through every week from friends, family, fellow bloggers and even strangers. It’s unbelievable how generous some people can be and some of my closest friend’s have supported me more so much. Of course, you will all know who you are!

During the three months of fundraising I received plenty of emails from the sky dive team at Parkinson’s UK and also from the sky dive company itself that I would be jumping with. Since I’m in Doncaster and the main events for Jump June were taking place down South, Parkinson’s hooked me up with the most local site to me which was the Hibaldstow airfield, around forty minutes away from home.

On the run up to the event, more so in the last few weeks; friend’s and family constantly asked me how I felt. Are you Nervous? Are you scared? Will you definitely be ok? I had absolutely no nerves whatsoever which was starting to worry me myself that when someone asked, my boyfriend was more nervous than I was! Was I not supposed to feel some sort of nerve by now? I got right up to the day of my sky dive without feeling nervous! Which I guess is a fantastic thing as it left no time to talk myself out of doing this and potentially letting people down.

When it came to my Sky Dive date we were up at 5:45 so that there was plenty of time to get up, get ready, have a light breakfast and make the forty minute drive to the airfield where I would be dong my jump. We had been advised to arrive for 8am, and if you’re doing a jump too, then definitely try your best to arrive bang on time as they tend to run on a first come first served basis in terms with who goes up first. Let’s face it, waiting around all day because you arrived an hour late is not going to do anything for those nerves.

I drove us to the airfield whilst my boyfriend, Aunty and two cousins came to support me along with two of my really lovely friend’s Jess & Rowan who followed a short while afterwards. When we arrived we parked up and went up to the reception to check in where I had to sign and fill out some more forms to finalise everything, and of course book my photography package! All the staff in the reception were incredibly kind and friendly making you feel extremely comfortable and personally for me, even more excited the minute you arrive.

I only had around 15 minutes after doing all of this to go and sit down in the canteen with my guests before being called at 8:30 for the brief. Then it hit me. NERVES.

I was sat in a classroom type room, full of chairs and a TV where an instructor talked us through everything we needed to know along with a short video that we had to watch. I felt more nervous than ever at this point, like I said above; I hadn’t really felt much emotion towards doing the sky dive in terms of fear. They also briefed everyone through the seated landing position to ensure that we all landed safely without any injuries as apparently this is where its most likely to hurt yourself.

Once we left the classroom, this wave of nerves I seemed to have developed just disappeared. Once again I felt absolutely fine and excited more than anything. We were all ushered to put on our overalls and choose out helmet and gloves ready to be called to go up and do the jump.

I sat with my family outdoors whilst watching the groups of people jump before me land in front of us and before I knew it, it was time for me to go too! I was called over to meet my instructor, and my photographer who would be jumping at the same time as I would to capture my amazing experience. Two different people checked me over to make sure my harness and whatnot was all safely in place. My instructor went off to speak to my family and reassure them that he would look after me (nice touch!) and to also tell them which colour parachute we would have so that they could point me out above everyone else jumping too.

We had to drive around a quarter of a mile to the other end of the airfield away from the spectators and the buildings in an old little battered van full of seats where the short journey took us to where the plane would land and take off. We quickly jumped on the plane, which was really hard with the propellers going off at full speed and sit in the order that we would be jumping. Since I was jumping out second, my instructor and I were the second to last to get on the plane. If you’ve ever seen a sky dive video you’ll probably know that the seats inside the aircraft are like benches that you sit on with your legs on either side whilst sat in between your instructors legs ready to jump, that’s exactly what we did and then half way up they hook you up so you’re ready when they reach the exact height.

The journey to reach 15,000 feet took around 10-15 minutes, the view going up was super pretty which we were told to admire to take our mind off what was about to happen. My instructor (ahhhh I can’t remember his name!) kept light conversation flowing the whole way up whilst showing me the watch he was wearing, that shows exactly how high we were as we went further and further up.

No matter what you do, never say “you can’t do it” he said. Not that I needed the advice as I weren’t feeling half as nervous or scared as others on the same aircraft were feeling but still reassuring to hear when you’re probably about to do the most crazy experience of your life.

We hit 15,000 feet and it was time

Ellie, who I had made friends with throughout the briefing and whatnot jumped first. She was a little bit more worried about the whole thing than most people but she managed to do it, and it was so good that she got out of the way first meaning she didn’t have to watch multiple other people go first and possibly back out.

Since she went first and I went second, I got to see someone jumping from the planes point of view too which is a pretty amazing thing to witness! Before I knew it, it was my turn! The photographer jumping with me firstly exited the aircraft and hung onto the side so that he wasn’t too far down before we jumped too. We stood up together on the edge of the plane and I dropped all my weight onto my instructor so that my legs could dangle backwards and on 3, 2, 1 we all jumped.

I’m not even sure how I could possibly describe such an experience. Firstly I was thinking, I’M FINALLY DOING IT! Then I had to remind myself to admire the view and the feelings as it was happening. The overwhelming sense of not being able to breathe or control your face is quite funny but I managed to keep my mouth shut and try and breathe through my nose whilst we travelled at 120mph free falling through the sky. Mid way through free falling my helmet was trying to slip off my face, and my goggles flying up… not as snug as we originally thought. HA.. But once the parachute was pulled it was a lot easier to control.

The free falling part is probably the most intense, since I wasn’t wearing a helmet like the instructors, nothing was covering my ears meaning the wind flying through them at over 100mph speed was slightly painful but bearable. Once my instructor pulled the parachute and we started to slowly descended back to ground they settled much more and we got to enjoy the ride down.

Once the parachute had been opened we blissfully spent around 3-4 minutes in the air before landing. Whilst doing so, my instructor let me take lead and control what we were doing in the air. We did a 360 turn and went side to side whilst he pointed in the direction in which we would be going towards, he eventually took over and controlled the rest of the journey. Persuading me scream and let all my emotions out, enjoy the view and just take a deep breathe and remember why the hell I did this. Such a surreal moment. Before landing he made me practice the seating position twice in the air to ensure that I was confident before getting closer to ground, which I really appreciated him doing.

We didn’t land in front of the spectators but a short bus journey ride away (still close enough for everyone to see us though!) like when we took off. Since my family knew what colour my parachute was though they could see me from where they stood (it was bright yellow and black!) which was still exciting for everyone. We took the small journey back and I finally got to hug and scream to all my family and friends about FINALLY completing my sky dive. YESSSSSSS, YIPEEEEE, AGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. The emotions are literally unreal.

Once I had undressed out of my overalls and taken a few more photos with everybody we had to wait around 15 minutes before being called to collect my photographs and video on a USB stick. Luckily enough there was a little viewing area where you can insert your USB and watch the video with everyone and laugh about how funny your face looks whilst jumping out of a plane at 120mph, HA!

I can’t express how amazing my experience with SKY DIVE Hibaldstow was, words will never be enough to describe the feelings, the emotions I went through the last few months; fundraising, reaching targets, talking to friends and family about it, planning the big day and dreaming about it for such a long time to finally doing it and feeling on top of the world. Literally.

I know people say that doing something as big as a Sky Dive is a once in a life time experience, but it doesn’t have to be. I’ve definitely learnt that doing any type of experience is never too far out of reach if you really put everything you’ve got into it. It’s my life goal to do at least one sky dive every year at this airfield.

I want to end this post by just saying that I appreciate all the support I’ve had, from my friends and family, friends through blogging, even strangers! Thank you to everybody that sent me good luck wishes and also kindly donated. Together we raised £700 for an amazing charity in memory of an even more amazing person, my Uncle. Just today I received this email from a member of the Parkinson’s UK fundraising team:” A massive thank you for taking on the challenge and of course for all of the fundraising you are doing. This money you raise really will make a difference for people affected by Parkinson’s.”

I intend to carry on fundraising for Parkinson’s UK so please, if you have any suggestions on what my next adventure should be, comment down below!

Together WE CAN BEAT IT.

Debra-Bow xxx

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