Sunday 18 August 2013

Memories of the Skydive

To view the full skydive video click here!

Two photos prior to the Skydive and I am smiling in both. Amazing how happy you can feel when you have no knowledge of what is about to happen. Well I suppose I had an inkling... however it is nothing like the real thing. You know... the reality of  falling from a plane at a great height!  

The following is a picture story of the event as it unfolded. A record of my thoughts and feelings wonderfully etched on my face for all to see.

Each participant gets "bussed" out to the runway and the sun is shining and all is well with the world. Once out on the runway, we wait for the plane to arrive and I am anticipating all that the scrambling into the small plane will entail. I have had a practise run so I know that my knees are up to the various positions and although I am aware of my heart beat, it isn't pounding excessively.  Strange to say I am eager to be up and oft. Or is that glad to be getting it over with... how does one know how to explain one's feelings in words. 
Excited just doesn't do justice to the moment! The plane arrives and in we go... hand in hand! 
I am full of confidence in my instructor. I am smiling and grateful that so far my knees are up to the scrambling and cramped seated position on the tiny plane. Steve, my instructor is reassuring and keeps the banter going and my mind fully focussed on the delights of the views and the joy of the flight. He has done this jump literally thousands of times and with many people from the whole age spectrum.

I can't stop smiling! why? to be honest I don't know why. I think nerves have a lot to do with it although there is a lot of banter going on. Chik, the photographer and Steve are past masters at putting you at ease and this is after all a once in a lifetime experience for me. I remind myself  over and over again that I am doing this to raise funds for the Canine Partners charity as otherwise I would not be risking life and limb just for the thrill.

There were other charity skydivers in our group. I had met Alicia the previous week and she was raising money for Help for Heroes. Kayleigh was raising money for a local Cancer charity. Another for the Roy Castle Lung Foundation and someone else was skydiving for  Diabetes UK. I was in good company both on and off the ground... and here is the ground we are flying over.

The view is stupendous. I can see the whole of the estuary and the river flowing through the fields. There are a few clouds in the sky but not many.  The wind is perfect ... everything is as it should be.
We have got the best of the day. Amazingly, I am still smiling, even the sun is smiling!

However as I get ready to go, as seen below, I am definitely not smiling now eh! You can tell what I am feeling by the look on my face. However I am sure you cannot read my thoughts as I realise that the door is opening, the sign that the die is cast ... Steve is still smiling though, you can tell that he loves his job. I am having to move from fear into feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Now I really don't think that Skydiving was what Susan Jeffers had in mind when she wrote the famous book! I remember reading it and as I recall it worked wonders for my public speaking events! At this moment I am having difficulty speaking at all...


And keep going!

So here we are in flight and I find myself enjoying it! Who knew that the fear would go so quickly and that exhilaration would arrive with the acceleration!

The view was amazing, the feeling of flight phenomenal, however being under the canopy was the best part for me. There was general elation going on that I had made an excellent exit from the plane. Steve's words not mine. To be honest I can't really remember the exit too clearly.

Viewed from above...
Viewed from below...

Here I am safely landed and very, very grateful. My hands are acknowledging Namaste... the sanskrit word for "I salute the divine" and you can be sure at that moment in time I was most definitely living in gratitude for all that is holy!

I made a perfect landing as in standing upright! Brilliant is how I described the experience at the time. Now I would use the words borrowed from our friends from over the pond and say "Outstanding - Awesome". These adjectives describe both my experience and the people who made the Skydive possible...

Thank you soooo much Steve and Chik! How can I ever thank you enough for the safe journey through the sky... those memories etched forever in my mind and recorded on film to be revisited whenever I want to take flight!

Our strap line of "Life's a journey - Enjoy!" has never been more apt...

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Leap of Faith

I don't think I shall forget Sunday the 11th August in a hurry. It was a 5am rise to get to the airbase early to put my name on the board to be first in the queue! Well they had put me at the coo's tail the previous week as I didn't even know that there was a board then. 7.30 am we arrived and found that the Three Muskateers from McDuff had arrived at 6.30 am and that another chappie, Colin, had arrived and 6.45 and the weather wasn't looking promising! So 5th in the queue then!

At least I had got the picnic right. New cool bag from Tescos... complete with champagne bottle and plastic champagne flutes... and a lot of scrumptious food!

It's all in the preparation and as you can see above, here I am ready and prepared for the flight. I loved the matching hat! It was around mid afternoon before this photo was taken as the clouds and rain rolled in and rolled out and sometimes even stayed. Each time they stayed, the flights were cancelled for 30 mins. Then when the wind picked up, they rolled the clouds away but the wind needed to be light so that we were safe when in midflight. It's a tricky business getting things just right. Call it the Goldilocks paradigm!
The Three Muskateers from McDuff, were called Kayleigh, Mark and Stephen and this was their third visit, as conditions weren't favourable for flight previously. I was delighted that they got to skydive as they had left McDuff at 4.30am each time. Now that's what I call commitment. Well done... it was great to share the day with you.

It had been Colin's (the 6.45 guy) fourth attempt due to the weather so I was very lucky at Sunday's go being just my second. There I am on the right in midflight. I know it could have been anyone however it wasn't... it was me! I loved being under the canopy. Didn't enjoy the stepping into the unknown quite so much and free fall at 120 miles an hour for a control freak like me was the most challenging.

So am I glad I did it? I am over the moon, well perhaps not that high, as 10,000 feet was high enough for me thanks. My thanks go to the team at the Paragon Centre at Errol who made the day happen. Especially to Steve who dealt with me and my fear professionally and kindly. Steve was my tandem partner... and a big thanks to Chic, the photographer who filmed my leap of faith and who promised to get my best side, although I am sure the grimaces of fear will be there on both sides...
Steve complimented me on my exit from the plane and as for the landing... 'twas only perfect, even to landing standing up! Who knew at 5am on the 11th of August that a happy landing was going to be the outcome of the day! Isn't that what a Leap of Faith is all about... trust the professionals' advice and do what you have to do.

A very big thank you to all the people who donated to the Canine Partners because I had decided to embrace a mega fear. I did it for you...
and I did it for you, Zoe and Remus. You do what you have to do every day!
Love and hugs to all............
p.s. the video will be coming to a computer screen near you... very, very soon!

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Setback or everything for a reason - You choose!

Sometimes life just doesn't go according to plan. Well maybe it does but just not to my plan. For instance the charity skydive for Canine Partners didn't happen as high winds interfered with my intention to fall out of a plane while firmly attached to a parachute and an expert parachutist! The cancellation although understandable caused mixed feelings of disappointment and frustration... funnily enough there was no feeling of relief as I had been psyched up for the event!

What did the delay tell me? I think first and foremost it was a lesson in patience and persistence, you know the maxim "if at first you don't succeed..."
Also it was a huge lesson in dealing with disappointment. On Saturday, I accepted that the skydive couldn't take place as the winds were fierce. However on the Sunday when the weather was braw and the wind had died down, my mood, my emotional state was flat, as I had obviously chosen the wrong date to fly... or had I?

This week has been about turning around disappointment to totally accepting that everything for a reason has to be the best approach to any set back. After all feeling disappointed about not falling out of a plane... is just plain daft! as I am sure you will agree.

I will be delighted to recount the experiences of better weather conditions on the next visit to Errol airbase... soon, very, very soon!