Wednesday, July 04, 2007


WOW it’s nearly been a year! Looking back the past years’ entry and a lot has happened, not all good but I do hope we have all matured (in mind only though!) and I hope we have entertained you somewhat ;-)

I am so sorry it took so long to write up the final entry, so in my way of apology, I’ll try and give you a detailed rendition of our 10,000 (puh, a mere 10,000 and not the 15,000 I did before!) feet plummet to the Earth’s crust!

The jump was scheduled for 17th June, Father’s Day but the weather the week leading up to the jump was quite temperamental and we weren’t sure if the jump was going to go ahead until 9pm Saturday evening when we made a call up to the jump site in Oxfordshire.

One of my colleagues from my office asked me what it was like actually doing the jump and I gave her 3 advice: 1) do not chew gum during freefall (I nearly choked on mine on my first jump); 2) get plenty of sleep; and 3) just enjoy yourself and scream like mad!

Well… I don’t actually practice what I preach…! Not sure if we were going to do our jump until the day before meant I was pretty unprepared – had to look for my BHF t-shirt (it shouldn’t be that hard to locate as it was bright red… it was neatly folded away at the bottom of my wardrobe), dig out some baggy jeans, bright red ski socks for my plaster cast, pack food supply (consists of chocolates and fruit juices) for our 2 hour car journey up north.

I was tucked up in bed by 11pm on Saturday but of course when you really want to sleep, your mind just goes into overdrive and I didn’t manage to fall asleep until 2ish and had to get up again at 4am!!! We had to get to the jump site by 9 which meant I needed to meet Shirin at North Greenwich station around 7ish. I wasn’t the only one sleep deprived, Shirin barely slept the night before too and managed to wake up late so when I saw her, her hair was still damp from her morning shower.

Throughout the drive Shirin and I couldn’t believe how nice the weather was, the sun was shining, barely any clouds in the sky, not a drop of rain in sight… this was all to the dismay of Shirin! She kept chanting, ‘we are going to die, we are going to die…’ every so often! LOL

The drive besides from Shirin’s chanting was pretty uneventful, we only managed to get ‘lost’ twice… took the wrong turning off the big roundabout near Heathrow Airport and not being able to find the jump site so we picked up a fellow para jumper down the ‘Vicar of Dibley’ esque lane! That’s another thing we can both tick off our list of stupid things to do before we are 50… jump to our death and pick up a hitch hiker (of sorts)!

Drove down a narrow, muddy lane, strolled/rolled along damp grass to sign away our life with the parachute school and then basically lay about watching the professionals enjoy a few jumps themselves whilst we waited for more people to turn up. One of the ‘professionals’ managed to go off course and landed in an adjacent field! Hehehe

Thinking we shouldn’t eat before our jump in case the altitude and sleep deprivation didn’t agree with our tummy we held out until 11ish until the smell of fried burgers and sausages drew us in! Which tasted fabulous, may not make have made it as something I would request for my final meal but just for a normal day out in an open field with the sun shining, children and dog running about, it was perfect ;-)

In this picture it looks like Shirin was really concentrating on the training given by Dan here with the parachute… personally I think she was just concentrating on his nice perk bum! Hahaha

We got chatting to the guy frying up our food, he told us he had done about 50 jumps himself, and our instructor had amazingly done over thousands of jumps! Shirin’s guy (and what a ‘guy’ he was, ex-RAF and muscles all in the right places ;-)), Ian was half naked when we were first told who we were going to jump with by one of the girls handling our forms and payments. My guy, Ralph had done over 3,000 jumps and only slightly saner than all the other instructors/staff working there! Whilst they (3 strong men, one on each side lifting me up whilst the third was trying to try a ribbon between my legs!) were helping to get me geared up, we had the normal conversation: What am I feeling? Why I am doing the jump? And so on. This gave me the chance to flash them my BHF t-shirt and somehow lead to the conversation to computer games… this was were I disclosed I am hooked on ‘Final Fantasy III’ on the DS Lite – things got decidedly rude from then on, by the time Shirin joined us to get geared up (she was changing into her jogging pants in the car), she was thrown into the deep end of the conversation about role playing games! LOL

This is my favourite photo of Shirin getting very close to Ian ;-)

Shirin was saying, if she sat down on the ground, she wouldn’t be able to stand back up again as it was quite heavy – this was nothing compared to the parachute packs which weighed in excess of 20kilos which the instructors had to carry. All geared up and nowhere to go but up, up and away!

Our light aircraft for the day was called, Islander. She is only a small aircraft, the inside of the cabin was held together mainly by duct tape! Confined space with 8 jumpers (3 novices, 3 instructors and 2 video guys), pilot and co-pilot. Throughout our ascend the video guys were doing acrobatics trying to excite/scare us into pulling silly faces into the camera… we were even offered to join the mile high club! Hahaha

I was the first to jump out of the plane with Ralph once we arrived at our location and got the go ahead from air traffic control that the area was free from other aircrafts. We wiggled our way to the door (did I forget to mention, I have been strapped to Ralph and was basically laying on top of him during the ascend?!), dangled our legs out… the first thing I noticed wasn’t the lovely white clouds but the wheel of the aircraft just feets away from us! My mind was definitely working over time – I am going to hit my head on the wheel, pass out from the impact, fall to the ground and miss the whole experience! In reality that didn’t happen – as I was strapped to the front of my instructor, all he had to do was lean forward and we are off… freefall was exactly the same as I remembered, can’t make out Heaven and Earth, wind rushing by and time doesn’t mean anything (freefall with the speed of 120mph was due to last 30 seconds but even though I dislike it, it did not feel that long), you just try to remember your training and not grab your instructor in your panic! I wisely got rid of my gum when I was eating my sausage burger so I only had to contend with my dribbling when Ralph deployed our parachute! This is definitely not a sport trying to impress guys – dribbling during freefall, stupid leather hats that give you hat hair, bubble bee goggles which leaves marks on your face and then the straps all tightly bounded in all the wrong places! Hahaha

I believe Shirin and Ian was the next to jump with their camera guy. Shirin and Ian were showing off, doing all these turns in the sky and reaching the ground long before us – we just gently floated down and enjoyed the beautiful view beneath us, we saw a few Red Kites (the bird variety) which Ralph pointed out as I had no idea!

We were coming up to landing after about 5 minutes descending (it felt so much longer though), there was another member of staff on the ground waiting to catch me but we ended up landing on our bums instead, as my instructor leaned backwards, I was still strapped to him so again I was laying literally on top of him when the camera guy and the member of staff who were suppose to catch me came running up and unhooked us and help me out of the straps and into my chair again! Phew! That’s it, all done, got our certificate and back to normal speed and life!

That’s it, that was our jump and this is the final entry but the donations doesn’t stop, the sponsor page is still up so please feel free to donate to a fabulous charity – thank you for reading ;-)

Lots and lots of love Helen & Shirin xxx


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