Both my son and I did the AFF at FFU in May 2012 - we were treated extremely well, the emphasis is on safety and enjoyment - and you will progress as fast as is correct for you (dont rush it - learn and enjoy), do what you are instructed and you will have a real good time. We never felt unsafe! Also, staying in the student appartments is really great!
So I passed Whuffo School... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6apOFz7d6Cg
And this is my story pre-AFF....
Welcome To The Sky
The start of the freefall experience began when I was on holiday with a friend in Australia... at least that was the physical aspect... I guess the true start was when I first saw Goldeneye. The Bond film where Pierce Brosnan rides a bike off a cliff to chase down a plan. At a ripe age of 10 I may have been too young to think that I could do that but we all have dreams.
To begin, I just wanted to try it. Alot of people probably have it on their bucket list of things to do before they die or turn 30. I’ve never had a list nor a priority to my life... monkey see, monkey do... only if monkey thinks its awesome.
On Saturday the 8th July 2011 in Cairns, Australia, finds me and Aimée in a office waiting to go through a briefing on the do’s and do nots of tandem skydiving. When we booked this experience a few days before I was as excited as I have ever been. A grin split my face at the prospect of hurtling towards earth at 120mph. Aimée was apprehensive but after a very small amount of pushing she too signs up (I said she was scared, which is like slapping someone with a gauntlet). For two days my cheek muscles tried to decapitate me. Giddy was the word of the holiday and I had found something beyond giddy. Aimée, bless her, was not outwardly excited about the jump as me but I knew she would love it... much like someone who has never tried bacon, you know its good, it smells amazing but you dont truly know its good until it is a mess between your teeth. I have visualised bacon for too long and built up my own excitement and feel... this bacon, although it had no smell to it, was soon to become the greatest thing in the world.
Back to the briefing, I remember signing a form - probably something about going splat somewhere and I remember watching a bus of people unload from just completing their jump while our group was having a photo taken. I couldn’t say what else happened as I next remember being at the airport looking at a tiny plane. I’ve never been in anything smaller than a passenger jet that holds upwards of a hundred people. This thing holds 12ish on take-off and maybe two on landing. I am trembling with excited and the grin never leaves my face. My thoughts are sky high and I’m racing to catch them!
After a quick informal interview with Jez, a man soon to hold my life in his hands, we head to the aircraft and are soon rumbling across the tarmac. A new experience is added with the sidedoor fully opened to allow for ventilation. It’s quite weird to see the floor drop away from you this close but it just adds to the buzz. A ten minute climb later and we are briefed about body position and what the lights mean. My tandem master straps me to him making me feel small (I am almost 2 metres tall, so bravo!), we edge towards the exit and I watch 2 girls go before me. One second they are sitting on the edge and the next instant they vanish. It’s eerie... I wasn’t thinking about the exit at any point and suddenly its on me!
With my feet edging to the door comes the master says;
“You seem confident about all this, do you want to do a barrell roll on exit and watch the plane fly away?”
And so, when I drop, we roll and I see my sky taxi fly away. I was expecting a lurch in my guts to tell me we have jumped but nothing changed apart from the noise, scenery – unobscured by the plane. As we fall I get my arms out and legs sorta straight to allow him to control the descent.
The view is nothing short of incredible... this is a view all skydivers see and perhaps is one of the great parts of jumping if you omit the adrenaline surge. We can see The Great Barrier Reef off to one side and a patchwork farmers quilt beneath. Further inland is a haze of heat. While I am enjoying the scenery, Jez is doing his job, filming, tilting my head back to the correct position (I learnt later that when you look down, the wind buffets his face quite badly. Facing forward helps turn you into a personal windshield). I only had one question on the way up – is it difficult to breath with all the air rushing into you... silly question really, if you need to breath you will. What I should have asked is that while I perform my widsheild like imprression, so should shut my mouth? The wind whisks away any saliva you have and, if you happen to be enjoying yourself, the smile you have soon curls your lip up until I am flashing an inch of my gums.
A minute after exiting at 14,000feet we have already reached 5,000feet in a mere minute and the chute is pulled. I feel a slight jolt but nothing wrench worthy, like applying the brakes on a car, hard, while doing over a ton. You feel the seatbelt/harness squeeze or hold you in place but its not painful. The main thing you realise is that you can now hear yourself going “ohhh” or “ahhh” so you switch to nearly screaming the words “This. Is. Amazing!” - after a quick adjustment of your gums... the after video is just embarrassing.
The descent that followed was gentle and peaceful. The change from the freefall has totally changed your perception of what relaxing is.... its not sitting in a hot bath reading a book with a brew to hand, its not sitting down at the end of a hard day watching something to numb the mind while digesting some huge dinner... it is gliding through the air on a cushion of air after a safe plummet to Earth. Perhaps the freefall has just amplified the relaxing nature of canopy flight.
Once we land and give a little speech to the camera about how amazing it was. I watch Aimée descend from above and can see pure joy burning from her eyes. She bloody well loved it as much as me, though if you see her video you may think otherwise – the wind makes fools of you all, in my case I had a 90 year old face of flapping skin, Aimée had a sort of shocked fear look... it’s amazing all the same. With only the planet looking up at you, who cares what you look like?
After the landing and debussing back at the skydiving office, we are driven off to do a bungee jump. Another shot of adrenaline, albeit a little bit less that the skydive.
Since that day, almost a year ago, I have thought of nothing else but my next jump... which has also spurned this blog to document the journey, my journey from a IT Techie, to a fully fledged skydiver... the biggest entry on my bucket list is to be a professional skydiver and earn a living jumping out of perfectly good aircrafts before I turn 30. T-minus 3 years and 19 days... man am I giddy... and hungry for more bacon.
Trying to put together a 7 way one time I started pointing at the last guy trying to get down to us...
Yeah, people were like why the hell is pointing at him like he wants him to pull? lol, I was trying to tell everyone else to make more drag so he could get down but that totally was not conveyed the way I wanted.