While we were staying in Airlie Beach Camilla decided to take the plunge and finally tick Skydiving off her bucket list. Below you can read her firsthand experience of throwing herself out of a plane at 15,000 ft. – because that’s a normal thing to do, right?!
Skydiving has always been on the ‘to do list’ but if I’m honest I’m not 100% sure what the attraction was. Maybe it was the idea of an adrenaline rush, the slight rebel instinct of going against my parents’ wishes or perhaps it was just the thought of those incredible views. Whatever the reason it had always been an itching ambition. However, saying that, skydiving wasn’t actually on our Australian to do list and came as a spare of the moment, unplanned, whirlwind addition.
While we were booking our day trips to the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsundays at the Mad Travel Shop my eyes started to wander and I started looking at all the activities on offer in Airlie Beach. Then one in particular took my eye. Skydive Australia offers skydiving in many areas across Australia, including Airlie Beach. I picked up the leaflet and thought to myself where else would be better to skydive than Australia? Furthermore, where would be better to skydive than over the Whitsunday Islands?! From that moment, I’d pretty much made up my mind that this was going to happen. Next, convince Natalie to join me…
After trying but failing to convince Natalie to join me I signed my name on the dotted line and was booked in to do my skydive in three day’s time – sorry Dad! It may have been a last-minute decision but I’m so happy that I finally decided to go for it. The spare of the moment vibe was maybe the only way I would ever do it!
When the day finally came around it was an early start, Skydive Australia arranged for someone to pick us up from our accommodation at 6:20am – although you can go earlier if you wish. Luckily Natalie was able to come along for the ride as a spectator, otherwise I may have changed my mind!
First, they took us to the main office where I signed the terms and conditions and watched the all-important safety video. Afterwards, we were driven to the airport to meet my instructor and get ready.
Once we’d arrived at the airport I was able to dump my bags, go for a last wee (I didn’t want anything left in me before I jump – can you imagine!?) and put on the overly attractive blue trousers and harness. This is where I’ll admit I started to get very nervous, I was faffing about changing the trousers I was wearing, untying and tying up my hair and generally talking rubbish to Natalie. At one point she even told me to go and calm myself down.
While we were waiting we could see other divers successfully completing their skydives and subsequently telling us it was ‘the best thing they’ve ever done’ while I nervously asked ‘how was it?’. Now, I’d love to say seeing and speaking to these people helped with my nerves. They made it down safely so surely that means I’ll be fine… unfortunately not, I was still very nervous and continued to repeatedly change my hairstyle and giggle like a child who has just downed two litres of Fanta Fruit Twist.
Next, I heard my name and it was time. My instructor came over to introduce himself, give a quick recap of the safety instructions and interviewed me for my video, then, in no time at all, it was time to board the plane. No turning back now…
The main question I get asked when I tell people about my skydive is ‘were you nervous’ and my answer was obviously yes, yet I’d always thought I’d calm down once I was in the plane. But, when watching my video back you can see I’m clearly not calm. Constantly smiling, laughing at every little thing and playing with my hair – telltale signs that I was definitely not calm.
I remember my instructor telling me at 5,000 ft. that we weren’t even half way there and by looking out the window we were already pretty bloody high! 5,000 ft would have been fine for me thanks, I’ll just get out here. But no, I’d decided to go from 15,000 ft. Go big or go home right? Right!?
Once we reached 15,000 ft. they opened the exit door and I felt a rush of air enter the plane, then one by one people crawled to the open door and start jumping into the sky. The nerves were pretty much at 100% right now.
Then, when my turn came around I just kept repeating the instructions they’d told me on the ground. Put your head against the instructor’s chest and feet under the plane, so your body forms a banana shape – be the banana!
Next, I was free falling through the open air. My initial reaction was to scream as if I was on a roller coaster before realising I needed to breath. We were free falling for around a minute and I have to say it was incredible. You have so much adrenaline rushing through your body it’s like nothing I’ve experienced before. Plus, once the instructor taps you on the shoulder you’re able to open your arms and fully embrace the feeling of flying.
When the parachute opened I was given a chance to calm down and collect myself before taking in the incredible views below. As I was skydiving over the Whitsundays I could see all the stunning islands spread across the sea. This moment in time was actually quite serene compared to the crazy 60 seconds beforehand.
While we were gliding through the air the instructor decided it would be a great idea to give me the reigns. Although it is pretty incredible being in control of the parachute, pulling it down on one side and spinning around, I couldn’t help but feel our lives were literally my hands. What would have happened if I’d let go?! Would we have fallen to the ground or would he have activated the second parachute? Well, I didn’t want to find out so I held on for dear life – literally!
After he took back control I was again able to appreciate my surroundings. Overlooking a stunning backdrop and Airlie Beach itself. It was truly stunning and something I’ll probably never see again.
Finally, it was time to land and this took another lot of concentration and repeating what they’d told me beforehand. Stretch your legs out in front of you and hold your legs up so you’re ready to land on your bum – this is really where my core strength (or lack of) came into play. Luckily the landing was smooth and I was safely back on the ground.
The overall jump lasted around 5/6 minutes and I have to say to was probably the best minutes of my life! It’s not until you’re back on the ground when you really start to appreciate or even realise what you’ve just done. It was a truly amazing experience which I hope to repeat one day with Natalie jumping out the plane behind me!
So, if you’re considering skydiving but something keeps holding you back i.e. will you survive? Or, it’s too expensive. Put all those thoughts in the back of your mind and forget about them, because if I’m honest, after you’ve done the skydive you won’t regret it. You’ll actually wonder why you were even questioning it in the first place.
Top tip: Go skydiving wherever you are in the world!!