Two things really stick out for me about
my 21st birthday; getting extremely drunk with my
friends in a bar in my local town, and jumping from an aeroplane.
My family had asked me what I wanted to do to celebrate my ‘coming of
age’. ‘I think I’ll do
a parachuting course’, I replied, much to their surprise. The course
lasted only 2 days and if
my family paid for it I would do the jump for charity and get a 30%
discount from the company.
They agreed, and I started signing up sponsors for the jump. It wasn’t
difficult. I was working
part-time in a pub and I’d become friendly with many of the regulars who
were only too pleased
to give me one or two pounds to jump out of a plane. One of the barmaids
even signed up to
do the course with me.
The airstrip was about an hour from where we lived, and the course was
held over the weekend
with the possibility of a Sunday afternoon jump, if the weather was good.
The course was fun. We learned how to push away from the plane, check
that the chute had
opened automatically, and pull the emergency chute if it hadn’t! And of
course how to hit the
ground and roll so that you didn’t break a leg or an ankle.
Sadly, it was raining on the Sunday of the course, and for 3 weeks after,
Eventually, good weather came and we were able to jump. Wow, what a rush!
The noise of the
plane fades away quickly once you jump and you’re left with silence,
peace and a birds-eye view
of green fields and English countryside.
I hit the ground a bit hard, but I was in one piece and smiling from ear
to ear. Yes, there was fear
before the jump, but that disappeared once the chute opened.
Would I do it again? Probably not. I actually had the chance to do
another jump a few years later
and I turned it down. Maybe age had made me wiser, or perhaps it had
smothered my sense of
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