You are standing in the airstream, grasping the wing strut with white knuckles and are trying to process what it is you are about to do. Namely; let go of a perfectly serviceable aeroplane and trust the folding skills of someone you have never met. The bricking yourself part was done a while ago. The tough bit was choosing to do this. Now, being loudly exhorted by the instructor you let go, spreadeagle as shown and…..well, it was odd. Not scary, no sense of falling just a sensation of being in mid-air and watching the aircraft shrink away from you really quickly. Quiet, suddenly there is a soft jolt, the canopy opens and the sound of the aircraft recedes quickly. After all, it is moving at 100-kts and you are just there in the middle of the sky dangling from a soft round canopy. Minor problem is that when practicing the freefall count and pulling on the dummy D-ring wedged in the webbing you were rather enthusiastic – fear numbed – and grabbed it and tossed it away. Eh, you were supposed to hold onto it to demonstrate your ability to work well under pressure. Fail. That’s a $22 replacement cost and something you assured the instructor that only a fear-stricken idiot would ever do.
I had to stop writing there for a moment and go and look at an accelerated freefall course (AFF to those in the know) in Spain. Definitely a Bucket List thing, but I ain’t doing three months rent in one hit just to abandon a serviceable – you hope – aircraft solo from the word go. In the same way that Brenda must think the world smells of fresh paint then I imagine the folks that are detailed to take a firm grip on you when you jump out semi-solo at 13,000 feet for your first jump think everyone is sweetness and light. FFS, it is them that are giving you a fighting chance. I have seen a jump that lacked the essential opening of the parachute part – a small but important detail – and they required removal from the LZ in an interesting way. The paramedics shovelled them into bin liners that were then popped in a zip to the top sleeping bag style cover. Nice. Of course you are going to try and be over-pleasant. Even grumpy atheists like me will be puckering up and kissing rings like there is no tomorrow. If they are a believer in the good lord then so am I. Durrrrh.
More to the point – point, keep to the point you say? You’ll be lucky – I am moving into a flat of my own in three weeks. It is the first time in my pretty unsheltered life that I have actually had a place of my own. It feels like skydiving. All calm, the tough bit of the decision is done, and now I am just working on managing the landing. I remember feeling pleased and perplexed the first time I boshed into the ground. Yes, despite all the para-roll practise you just bosh in the first time as the sudden ground rush caught me by surprise. You get up, dust yourself off, look up for the aircraft to remind yourself what you just did and then get the shakes. I expect I’ll stand in the flat, look around and remind myself that I need to book an appointment to have my kidney removed so I can sell it to pay the rent.