On 15th July a very brave Rotarian, namely Steve Maidment (a member of the Rotary Club of Bournemouth North) took to the skies. Yes, he went up in an aeroplane like most people do but unlike most people he didn’t come back in the plane. No, when it got up to 10,000 ft. strapped to a complete stranger they jumped and the only way was down.
This is Steve’s Story –
Having had 2 previous dates cancelled due to bad weather Jill and I arrived 0745 hours on Thursday the 15th – hopefully 3rd time lucky.. I was booked onto the fourth string jump team, three gone…we’re next at 1100 hours. Enter heavy cloud. Jump postponed.
Finally got to jump with seven others at about 1400 hours. Little bit nervous when it was announced and more nervous still when boarding the small aircraft.
Packed in like sardines, I worried about getting leg cramp, or heart twinges, or claustrophobia, or unconsciousness, or cowardice or any other embarrassing ailment. This was due to there being not an inch to spare amidst the eight jumpers and eight instructors, average age about 21. God, I felt old. Where’s Stan when you need him?
Even more nervous on take-off, screaming engine and loud rattles, fuselage shaking and through open door saw the ground disappearing into the distance. What am I doing here?
Onwards through the clouds and ever upwards. Cringingly nervous by this time but trying to appear stoical and in command of my fears as I sat strapped to my instructor. My jump was third in line.
“Move across to the door now Steve” said the reassuring voice in my ear. So I slid across and sat on the floor at the door, legs hanging out, head back but daring to peep down – once. Wished I hadn’t.
There followed the most terrifying ten seconds of my life as I was thrust tumbling into the strong winds of the open sky, peeping down through breaks in the clouds at the earth which by this time was about 140 miles away. OK two miles, but it was traumatic, frightening and exhilarating all at the same time. I did, however, at some point somehow manage to pose with a forced V sign, a thumbs up and an unconvincing smile for the hand-held camera.
For a full thirty seconds we were in free-fall. “Nothing quite like it is there Steve?” a voice shouted in my ear as without notice, the main parachute was activated and I immediately shot back up about half a mile. “No, awesome” I replied. He was right, there is nothing quite like it.
Then came the swirling gyrations. It was quite surreal, hanging there by a few straps, probably made in China, looking down between my feet from this great height onto the distant fields and buildings now clearly visible, but oh so far away. Strangely, as we swept down, I was conjuring up odd words every now and then to convey to Brad, my excellent and reassuring instructor, that I was in control of my fear.
As we broke through the final clouds, we swung sharply first one way then the other to lose height more quickly. It was like being at the loose end of a kite’s tail. I thought I was going to throw up but the descent ended with a dramatically steep, sweeping, stomach-wrenching figure of eight as we landed softly and safely on terra firma.
The GoSkydive company is excellent. The staff were very professional, reassuring and friendly and I would recommend them to anyone. Jumping from that plane was quite the most terrifying, life-questioning, inspiring and wonderful thing I have ever done. I wouldn’t have missed it……now.
I am so pleased to have completed the appeal. At the last count it has raised a total of £3599.71 (or £4342.14 including Gift Aid) for two great local charities, the Dorset Children’s Foundation and the My Time Young Carers charity. I wish them well.
I would like to thank all of you who donated so generously to this appeal and for your support over the past few months. It is very much appreciated by the charities, and by me.
Thank you all so much.