Recently I did something that has been on my ‘bucket list’ every since I can remember; sky diving.
I knew we were going to be spending a few nights in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland, which is reknown for adventure and extreme sports, so there had never been a better place to take the plunge.
Sarah was up for it too and as the time got closer we were impatiently counting down the days until we would get there. As soon as we arrived in Lauterbrunnen we booked and spent the next day watching as people cruised down in parachutes to the various landing sites around the town. We could not wait to go up in that plane.
The morning of the jump arrived but all of a sudden it had come around too quickly. Our alarm went off while it was still dark outside and I was instantly wide awake, and feeling like I had not slept in a week. Was I excited and pumped for what was about to happen? Not at ALL. Was I scared? More that I had ever been in my life. Had I changed my mind? Sarah definitely thought so as I laid there with my doona pulled up over my head refusing to get out of bed.
I finally managed to convince myself that somewhere deep inside, some part of me really did want to do this and I needed to get up. As I forced some breakfast down I stared at the picture perfect scenery out the window; green fields, cows in the pasture, quaint houses with slanted rooftops, step cliffs with waterfalls, dense forests, and tried not to think about the fact that I would soon be seeing all this from 13000 feet above.
As we stood shivering in the drive waiting for the bus I almost pulled the plug. It was like a tennis match in my head, back and forth, back and forth.
What are you doing? No it is okay I want to do this, being scared is normal.
You can still change your mind, just don’t get on the bus. You will regret it if you don’t get on.
This is crazy. It is going to be great, don’t be nervous.
No one has to know if you chicken out. Who are you kidding, you have told practically everyone you know, plus everyone you have met for the last two weeks.
Next second I am climbing on the bus. Game.set.match. This was happening.
As we pull away, the driver introduces himself. He is way too chirpy, it is making me feel ill. His voice sounds like it is coming from some far away muffled speaker and I am watching him talk from inside a fish tank.
I turn around as one of the other girls on the bus is trying to make conversation, she is not getting much of a reaction from anyone. It seems everyone is feeling that same way. Absolutely terrified. It turns out she has skydived before, but her reassuring comments are not making any of us feel better.
The driver seems to be attempting to beat some sort of land speed record and in no time at all we have arrived at the airfield. We are ushered into a shed next to this tiny tiny plane (are we really going up in that?) and a handful of eager looking instructors shake our hands and introduce themselves.
After several nervous wees it’s time to get suited up and hop down on the floor to practice the free fall position. Hans, the lead instructor checks everyone’s position, which involves laying on the floor with our back arched, acting like caterpillars and pronounces we are good to go.
Before the jump we did a scenic flight through the Alps which was cool but to be honest, I wasn’t really taking that much in. My instructor, Hans, and I were sitting at the front, so we were going to be first out. I figured this was good, I had been told that last out was the worst as you had to watch everyone else scream and carry on before they left the place. Poor Sarah was going to be going last.
As we approached the landing site I was started to get excited until Hans said to me ‘Right now we are just going to inch forward and you are going to help me open the door’. I am going to do what now? I don’t think so sonny jim. The whole idea is that I am strapped to you and you will push me out of the plane, there is no contribution from my side, otherwise I would never do it. Having to sit at the edge of the plane and open the door was not part of the plan.
I pretended to help by flopping my arm over near the door and just tried really hard not to vomit or faint. Once the door was up we shuffled forward, I took a deep breath, it was time to go. Or so I thought. Instead of going out of the plane we just hovered at the edge, Hans tells me we have to lean out and check that we are in the right spot to jump.
Before I can really register what he has said Hans grabbed hold of the rail above the door and next thing i know my whole body is hanging sideways out of the plane. the ground a smudge of colours so very very far below. The noise of the engine is just audible above the howl of the wind rushing past and buffeting against my face. We hung out of the door for what felt like an eternity while he scoped out the ground below. If I thought I was scared before, I was terrified now. This heart stopping manoeuvre had to be repeated another two times before the landing position was given the all clear.
I don’t even remember him telling me that it was time to jump, I was bracing myself for another terrifying lean out of the plane and next second we were out of the door and falling at over 200kms an hour.
Instaneoulsy the adrenalin kicked up a gear and the fear was gone. Just like that. This was incredible. The feeling of the freefall is like nothing I have ever felt before. The force of the wind was so strong I felt like it was going to smear my plastic goggles all over my face. I tried to let out a yell of triumph but it was lost before I even had my mouth half open. Then Hans gave the sign that meant I could put my arms out and I gave him a huge thumbs up before letting my arms go out to either side to feel the pressure and power of the wind as it rushed past.
The 45 seconds of free fall were over in a flash, all too soon it was time to hold on as the parachute was pulled. A few arial flips on the way down and some time to take in the view at a more casual pace. We touched down on the ground with a gentle slide along the grass.
I jumped up off the ground and bear hugged Hans before I turned to see Sarah landing, a huge grin on her face. That was insane! We both had the exact same thought, how long until we can save enough to do it again?