I was tightly strapped to a professional instructor who trains parachutists for Royal Air Force at Brize Norton. For braver souls, you could do it on your own, called a static line jump, but you start at a lower altitude, so not as much fun.
In training on the ground before the jump, we were told about how the harnesses ensure maximum safety. There are 4 separate harnesses, any 1 of which on its own would have been adequate, held by big metal clasps. They are attached to the instructor and the parachute. Everyone has three parachutes, a drag chute, a main chute and the reserve. The reserve has never been used by this school in over 20 years. It costs the airfield over £1,000 for single use.
Skydiving is safer than crossing the road. I’m not a daredevil. I loathe funfair rides and roller coasters. Skydiving is safer than ballooning and para-gliding as there is no element of chance or freak weather during the event because we waited for optimum conditions before jumping.
I felt supported in every way by my professional guide who talked to me throughout the skydive and explained things very well and reassured me. There is a feeling of a tummy wobble during the initial drop which lasts just seconds. When the drag chute opened we floated on air currents- it’s like being in a swimming pool. After the main chute opened there was a small jolt and then we floated very gently towards the ground enjoying the magnificent vistas. My instructor had two toggles that he could pull to turn us left or right so that we could see the whole area.
My last jump was 12 years ago. My initial trepidation was followed by a thorough enjoyment of the experience – quiet, beautiful scenes, views of River Thames, roads, cars and amazing scenery. It was wonderful and exhilarating.