I am in NO WAY an expert on skydiving. But, I have done one. And I can assume that most people reading this maybe have not. And if that is that case, then I hope you may find this post helpful, and it might even persuade you to join Team Matilda Mae for #MMskydive2014!
Last week, nine of us took to the skies to raise money for the Lullaby Trust. It was everything I imagined it would be- emotional, terrifying, exhilarating, amazing! I want to do it again. Today. Tomorrow. Soon. It was an experience I will never forget and I am so glad Hayley convinced me to do it!
I had no idea what to expect at all. Yes, I knew we would be falling from 13,000 feet, but there is no way to really prepare yourself for that. So while I know that this post is no substitute for being there and actually falling through the sky, I do hope it can answer some questions at least.
Here are our tips for preparing to dive:
- Get a good night’s sleep the day before you jump. We were so lucky that Two Ten paid for us to stay at a hotel near to the airfield. Most of us did not sleep that well, but we tried. And we appreciated not having a long journey ahead of us in the morning. Thank you thank you Two Ten.
- Arrive as early as possible at the airfield. A couple of the team members left earlier than we were advised to and were still waiting around for a few hours after signing in. It never occurred to me that other people would be jumping too (!) so be prepared and try to beat the crowds.
- Be prepared for a long wait. We booked in at 8.30 and did not jump until almost 12 pm. If you’re taking children with you, make sure you bring lots of things for them to do. If you know you will need time and space to pace nervously, leave the kids with someone else. I was SO glad the kids were with my mum.
- Make the most of the short training session. Ask all the questions you want to. No question is a silly question. Make sure you make good use of the instructor at this point, because conversations are not easy to have once you’ve taken flight.
Once your name has been called, you are in your jumpsuit and you are ready to go, Team Matilda Mae recommends:
- Trust your instructor. He has done this many times. He will reassure you. He will check your parachute before you board the plane. He will run through the procedures as he kits you up and once you are in the air. BUT he will not give you much warning when he is about to throw (YES, THROW!) you from the plane. You need to trust him.
- Don’t expect to be in charge of the order in which you jump. I wanted to be second. I wanted to watch one person fall and know that it was okay, and not be the one left behind. Unfortunately, the order of jumpers is decided on weight and since I was the smallest in my plane I had to go last!
- To reiterate- don’t expect your instructor to wait for you to be okay before you jump. If he did this, chances are many will never be ok. When that plane door opens, the air rushes in to bite you and you are under no illusion of what is coming next. It is natural to think NO WAY. If the instructor was to ask you, are you ready? what do you think you might say?! In my case, I watched my plane mates fall from the door one by one and as this was happening, my instructor was pushing me along the plane, from the very back to the door. Once at the door it was a matter of seconds before I was gone.
- Be prepared to dangle at the door. This felt, at the time, like the longest 3 seconds. But it was literally 3 seconds. I was dangled from the door. I hooked my legs under the plane. I crossed my arms at my chest. I broke a nail. I put my head back. I went.
- Scream. I didn’t know this, but apparently it helps your breathing if you scream as you fall. I screamed. I had no choice- I was falling!
- Open your eyes. Your instinct will be to close your eyes and that is the last thing you should do. I forced myself to open them and to look around and I am SO GLAD I did. It is beautiful up there.
- Remember what the arm slap means. When your instructor slaps your arm, it means you can uncross and hold your arms out. I forgot, in my panic, and was slapped twice. Ow.
- Hook your hands under your knees. When you come in to land, you need to bring your knees up to your chest and then straighten them for landing. I forgot to put my hands under my knees and my legs still ache today! It’s not easy but it helps for a more dignified landing!
- Be prepared for some bruises. Chances are, you have never worn a harness like this before. Chances are you will have a few scrapes and bruises. Never mind!
- Enjoy it. Once we had finished falling (the most terrifying part) we began to float and that was when it became magical. It was amazing. You have to take a moment to remember that this is an incredible world we live in. And breathe.
Other basic tips we came up with were:
- Wear shoes that fit securely. Make sure they either tie up or stay on some other way. You don’t necessarily need them for ankle support as your instructor lands you gently, but you want them to stay on when you fall.
- If you’re wearing a logo t shirt, wear a vest underneath. This means that you can take your t shirt off and pop it over your jumpsuit so that your logo t shirt is visible from the sky.
- Employ a ground crew. I had my husband with me and it was SO lovely to also have Jennie, Lucy, Tanya and Monika (who was supposed to jump but unfortunately was poorly) there too. Their support was wonderful and it was awesome flying into their arms once we had landed!
- Bring some money for your next dive. We ALL wanted to go straight back up again when we landed!
So, do you think you’re ready to sign up for #MMskydive2014? Please let me know and we will add you to the group!