I was looking out of the window on the flight from Alice Springs to Cairns. “It doesn’t look too bad,” I thought. “And this is higher.” Two days later, crammed into a tiny plane with 14 other people, I wasn’t so confident.
I was meeting a friend to travel down the coast of Queensland. He wanted to do a skydive but the others he was travelling with weren’t so keen. He asked if I wanted to join him and for some reason I agreed. I’m not the sort of person who enjoys going to theme parks. The few times I’ve been on a roller coaster I didn’t react well. But apparently jumping out of a plane at 15,000 feet wasn’t as much of a concern.
The morning of the jump I met my friend at the airport, then it was onto the skydive. The next few hours involved briefings, checking out equipment and going through every emotion possible. The jump was delayed and I went from, “I can’t do this!” to “Let’s just get on with it!” and back again over the morning.
Eventually it was time to go and I was introduced to my instructor. He was a big, bald Australian guy and wherever he was going now so was I. We were directed into the tiny waiting plane; seven jumpers and their instructors. I was one of the last into the plane, which of course meant I would be one of the first to jump.
For me the worst part of the entire experience was just after take off. We were about a metre off the ground but at that point I realized there was only one way I was coming back. Too late to back out now!
The door was closed (which was just a flimsy, plastic shutter over a large opening) and we began to climb higher and higher. I was staring out of the window trying to gauge the height as my instructor explained everything. The view was spectacular, looking out over the thick green canopy of the rainforest.
We’d been climbing for five to ten minutes and I was thinking, “Okay. I can do this.” It was at that point I was told we were about halfway. I’m sorry… What?!
A few minutes later we were at the jump site. The door was flung open and we were instantly met by a rush of air flooding the tiny plane. The first couple of jumpers left the plane and I remember thinking ‘they’re not coming back’. Another scary thought! As we slid slowly towards the exit I began taking some deep breaths. There was no turning back now.
We reached the open doorway and I instinctively swung my legs over the edge. It looked a long way down. The last thing I heard was my friend yelling something about James Bond and then it was time to go.