My first skydive

My first skydive

Posted 3 Apr 2012


So I've been waiting weeks and weeks for the weekend of the 17th March to come and going on about it past few blogs, because it was when I would eventually get to fall from a plane at 13000 feet and survive. Yes this is my first skydive weekend, after over a year of planning and saving (was £1000 for training alone) I was finally ready for it, and I was seriously so nervous. I have made it clear I am terrified of two things, planes and heights, well skydiving consists of two of them at extreme levels, and now looking back I'm still scared but oh my god was it AMAZING!!!

So when I write this I've been on two weekends away at the dropzone at APA Netheravon, and done 8 jumps in total, but I shall start from the start.

Training for the jumpSo it was Friday night before my first weekend, I had to be at Kingston University at 6 A.M for a lift with the society to the dropzone, I went to sleep at 2 A.M and woke up with a COLD! Ground training commenced at 8:30 A.M and I was feeling so sluggish with my senses everywhere! After all the formal paperwork and insurance we got straight to the training aspect which lasted all Saturday with maybe a jump later on if weather permitted. Sadly I got all my kit on and gear and walked to plane only for it to be cancelled for the day as the winds had picked up. Then a bar opens and everybody drinks swapping their war stories form the day, from harsh landings to funny exits from the plane. Sleeping on the dropzone is a funny topic as they provide a basic bunkhouse which is great but on my first weekend there must have been about 40 people in a room no bigger than my bedroom I write this blog in!The bunk house is where after the bar shuts the drunken antics follow on, like people swapping clothes and a particular student skydiver who ripped up his clothes for the fun of it to be shocked in the morning that he had no clothes to wear, step in good friends!

So Sunday morning arrives, I know I will jump today, I do a quick refresher training then get told I am on a plane in 2 hours time as weather was playing havoc. I received my 20 minute call up, my body at this point was getting numb with nerves and so was my stomach doing back flips around the butterflies like the one roller-coaster in a theme park no one goes on. I walk to the flight line and meet my 2 AFF instructors, Mark and George, who instantly recognise I am petrified and do their best to calm and reassure me. Going over the drills on the flight line the plane comes and gets ready to be boarded, I am first in as I am last out. This is the most scared I have ever been in my entire life seriously, on the plane ride I was struggling to keep constant breathing patterns, then at 13000 feet they opened the door! My heart nearly stopped and I thought of telling them I'm not going, everyone jumped and then it was my turn to move to the door(the plane is really small and tightly packed). I hold onto the door with only centimetres of my foot still on the plane deck, I give the signals I am ready (which I am sure I was not) then I FELL!!!!!!

Free falling to groundWords I type can't describe that first feeling of decent from the aircraft, you use every unnatural thought and movement process to push you off then its boom falling at around 120-150 mph to the ground. At this point you have about 40 seconds before you need to pull the parachute. I had the two instructors next to me (this is not a tandem, I am attached to no one) giving me hand signals to correct my body position. Then I started to think about nothing and the feeling and shock took over, until my instructor gave me a signal which sent a warning shock to my head ..... PULL. I checked my height and I was below my pull height so I instantly waved off and pulled my parachute to deploy, 4 seconds later I was under a canopy at 4000 feet enjoying the amazing view. I could see for miles and it was a stark contrast from the adrenalin fuelled free fall. I was in euphoria ........ until I landed far away with wind into a farmer's field full of cows. This had not been my fault but the winds had been bad all day but as I lay there on the ground looking up I realised it was worth it, all the shock and nerves and adrenalin all rolled into one was such a hit, a hit I want to do again.

Now that my first was out the way I have done 7 more jumps over the past weekend and finished my training, I just need 10 solo jumps and I can get my licence. I would never have been able to do this type of experience if it was not for the Kingston University Skydiving sports club, as they simplify the whole process. There are many sports and society groups at Kingston, and you can join them all and experience new things with each, and if you want to do something new you can set your own, so the possibilities are endless.

Here is a video of me skydiving.

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About Jack James

Course: PhD Low Cost Rocket Engine Design
Level: Postgraduate
Hometown: Liverpool

Other information: I came to Kingston straight from college in 2008. I am a member of the Compact scheme and am the first person in my immediate family to attend higher education. I was part of the British Armed Forces Territorial Army and am currently in the skydiving society. I graduated with a First Class BEng in "Aerospace Engineering, Astronautics and Space Technology" from Kingston in 2013.   I was also a Kingston University Student Ambassador but am  now currently...

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