Saturday, June 15, its 8.30 am and a group of individuals, some sane, some not, have gathered in Peterlee. Everyone has been raising money for North East charity Cash for Kids, and now the final culmination of it all. A warm sun heats the ground, while the cloudless sky gives us a clear view of the gods above.
Everyone gets signed in, and gets shuffled into a room to begin training about how to fall out of a plane, since apparently the right way is the best away and everything else will cause death.
Once we’re back outside we watch as the first group of pros go up in a plane that looks so very ordinary. Everyone left on the ground gathers for pictures with the Iron Men, Bananaman, Supergirl and their commander-in-chief, Courage the Cat.
Once the pictures are out of the way we gaze to the skies above, point fingers as we try to spot the plan, all while being blinded by the sun. Then we see the dots hurtling towards, slowing as the parachutes open, and then gliding towards the landing field nearby. Watching our excitement builds, unknown to us that this was not to be our day. Several hours pass as we wait for the winds to die down, but eventually the day is written off.
Sunday was to be my day, I turned up early since the winds would be calm, and I just wanted to get it out the way. The excitement was no longer there, but instead frustration at spending so much time waiting.
After an hour, the PA system called our group up, and we made our way to get geared up. As we walked down the runway, the instructors told us stories to get us shaking, about people suck in trees, landing on animals, and other mishaps. We laughed and brushed it off. One by one we climbed into the cramped plane, fitting in as many as they could in a tiny space. Every now and then we caught someone saying ‘there’s too many’ and ‘there’s not enough runway’. Eventually we were speeding down the runway and climbing to 13,000ft.
Time ticked by as we watched the ground get smaller, and the clouds get bigger. ‘Green light! Green Light! Green Light! GET OUT!!’ they yelled as the solo guys weren’t paying attention. Then the cabin began to empty as I watched everyone leave the plane. Being last was fun…
My legs were hanging out the plane, my eyes gazing above with no view of the ants below, and then a push. All I could see was an amazing horizon, fluffy white clouds, and a cameraman looking directly back at me. All I could do was smile as my fear of heights failed to come into play, instead replaced by pure excitement and astonishment of the views before me. Then as we fell through the clouds, the world beneath came into view and looked like Lego. Once the parachute was pulled and the slow descent began I got a chance to see everything for miles, from Durham Cathedral, to the Tyne Bridge, a feat not possible on the ground this easily.
Once I hit the ground I couldn’t believe how quickly it was over, or what I had achieved. Now I just want to fly!