I have never been good with heights but strangely have always wanted to jump out of a plane and swim through the air like they do in films and have never had the bottle to do so! So when the opportunity came up whislt we were on a Flying Kiwi Bus Tour of the North and South Island I did wonder whether I should grab it with both hands!! I didnt put my name on the list at first and used the excuse of 'I am afraid of heights' then the guy sat next to me who we had met on the bus said 'I am afraid of heights too but when in Rome do as the Romans do' and scribbled his name on the list!! I will never forget the feeling as I clambered into the plane with my partner and two instructors dressed in what looked like a giant babygrow with a hat on which made me look like I was getting ready to be fired out of a canon, thinking 'What am I doing? - have I just paid good money to plunge to my death out of an aeroplane!!' After about 10 minutes of climbing higher and higher in the plane I thought well it must be about time to jump out!! I then looked at the instructors altimeter on his wrist and it only said 3000ft - we were jumping at 12'000ft - OMG what had I let myself in for!! Higher and higher we went until we were well above the clouds and you could barely see anything below - just the fact that the fields were green!! Oh well, I thought at least I wont be dive bombing into somebody's house when my shoot fails to open!!
The plane climbed to 12'000ft and then it was time to jump out. The instructor opened the door of the plane (whilst I felt like shouting dont do THAT!!) and the cold air rushed in. He then shuffled my partner Dave right to the edge of the open plane door - they sat there for a while then he is gone and tumbling away from the plane at high speed - and it is my turn!! My instructor shuffled me onto edge and we sat there for a while whilst I screamed my loudest and my feet and body dangled 12'000ft above the Bay of Islands - the only thing stopping me from plunging to my death is the fact that I am attached to the instructor who still has hold of the wing and then on 3 we jump!
Falling at 120mph it is like nothing I have ever experienced before EVER it is soooo hard to take everything in at once and then at the same time there is a videographer filming your whole reaction so you are constantly making yourself smile and trying to look cool whilst the wind gives you a temporary facelift (not a good look)!! Imagine the windiest day ever and the feeling you get when the wind catches your breath - but your are not standing on the ground and it just all feels so wrong!! I had 42 seconds of freefall and to be honest it didn't feel like that long it is just enough time to adjust to the feeling and then they pull the parachute!! When the parachute opens it feels like you are being pulled up at 100 miles an hour which I suppose you are in a way as the parachute stops you from falling at a 120mph all of a sudden. It was at this point I thought - I'm gonna LIVE, I'm gonna LIVE!!!' You then get to take in the magnificent views the Bay of Islands has to offer - and it really is amazing. Floating down slowly (in comparison to your freefall) watching the scenes beneath you getting bigger and closer with a feeling of elation that you have survived, that there are more crazy activities to come on your bus tour around NZ and that you now probably have the bottle to try them all as nothing can be as extreme or scary as jumping out of a plane when you are afraid of heights!!!