I jumped out a plane this morning. Why? I asked myself the same thing as my legs dangled out the door. The wind rushing past me. My head resting back on Macca’s shoulder. My life, literally, in his hands.
A few friends bought me a Red Balloon voucher for my 40th. I chose sky-diving. 14,000 ft over St Kilda Marina, Melbourne. 60 second freefall. No problem. Easy. I’m not the first and I won’t be the last. Plenty of people do it every day.
Like Fonzy I strolled to the plane. I wasn’t nervous. I’m far too cool for that.
Of the 4 people jumping this morning. I was first. Good I suppose. Get it out the way. Over with quickly.
It wasn’t till the plane thundered down the runway that the nerves sneaked up on me. And the questions began. What am I doing? Why am I doing this? What am I trying to prove? Is this normal?
Higher and higher we went. Bouncing through the clouds. The landmarks getting smaller and smaller. The 8 of us rattling around like marbles in your pocket.
I played it cool though. Thumbs up and nods of mateship to the other 3 mugs on the plane. It was a 20min trip to the drop zone. Then a further 10 as air traffic control made us circle.
“Right Rob, sit on my lap, put your goggles on”.
I felt my insides loosen. The Fonze had deserted me. I was now, internally, a screaming girly boy wanting to go home to my mum. The altitude and thick smell of petrol doing nothing to help my nausea….I could see the instructors indicating to each other. Pointing. What the fuck are they pointing at? What’s wrong? Hang on are they worried about something?
The automatic sliding door to my left slowly opened. The howling wind raced in. My head started to spin.
“ok Rob, like we talked about. Dangle your legs off and under the plane. Head back on my shoulder.”
Fuck off. No. Way.
He couldn’t hear me. It was too late for that anyway.
I was so close to the door that my legs shuffled themselves outwards. A beautiful clear spring morning was, at that point, totally ruined by my insanity. I really must think these things through in future. If I have a future.
I wish I could say I thought about my family at this point. I didn’t. I remember concentrating on my breathing. Sucking in gulps. Trying not to vomit. Or pass out. Or both.
Ok here it comes. I’m dangling. Wind is ferocious. The sun in my eyes. My eyes are frying. I can’t see anything. Head back. Waiting…..waiting…..waiting…..what is going on. It must have only been 20 seconds it felt like forever.
Wait. STOP. Did you check the buckles??!!!
And then I tumble forward. My eyes are wide open. I am screaming at the top of my lungs. I can hear nothing but wind.
I catch my breath. I breathe. I am fucking Superman. Well, I’m not ‘fucking’ Superman….I’m flying like Superman. Ok, I’m dropping like a stone. But this is A W E S O M E!!
I remember how cold it felt. And how much my face was being pulled. The G-force doing all kinds of weird things to my ears, cheeks and neck.
There was about 60 seconds of freefall. Macca spun me around like a contestant on Dancing with the Stars. That was fun for the first few seconds. Then I thought he had lost control. He hadn’t. Then more free fall. Then more spinning. Ok Macca. Enough of the spinning son.
And then just like that I felt the tug of the chute. The noise stopped instantly. It was silent. Peaceful.
I repositioned my cheeks and took some more deep breaths. Looked up at the parachute and had a wee sigh.
“ how was that mate?” said Macca
“ Incredible. Amazing. Awesome. Wow.” Was all I could say. He laughed and I took in the view. I repeated myself like a nutcase. “wow, amazing….incredible…wow…..awesome”
The beautiful spring morning was back. Now I loved it. I took it all in. I could see my house, the local park, the MCG, Albert Park – all the sights.
My boys took an hour off school to come and watch me. I waved to them as I came in to land. Landing apparently is when all the accidents happen. Lift those legs high Macca tells me. Your coming in arse first.
And so I did. Smooth and ungraceful. Macca had my back the whole way. My boys running over to congratulate me. I was still repeating myself. “ wow, awesome, amazing….”
It has taken quite a few hours to settle down. I am still on a high. I went for breakfast as I waited for the DVD and photos. I felt exhausted. My mind wired.
It was an incredible experience. Something else to tick off the bucket list.
Would I recommend it. Absolutely. And get the video too.