For part one of this post, click here.
I did it! I jumped out of a plane! It almost got postponed again. We had an unseasonable period of miserable rain for almost a week. But by some miracle, Sunday the 11th provided a short reprieve. Mitchell and I turned up at the Semaphore Surf Lifesaving Club where a large group was watching footage of a relative of theirs who had just done it. They were falling about with laughter as their relative screamed and her face got warped by the rushing wind. It didn't take too long to get ready, we met the lads we'd be jumping with and they helped us into our harnesses and away we went.
I'm not going to write too much detail, because I've got footage to show you. But there were a few details that are worth mentioning. One thing that not many people talk about is how small the plane is. Myself, Mitchell, our instructors, the two other people who were jumping and their instructors ll had to squish in together like a rowing team. One of the other jumpers was such a big boy that I wasn't sure he'd even fit in the plane. Once inside, we couldn't talk much because the rushing wind was so loud. There was a bumper sticker facing us at the end of the plane that said "I like to live on the edge of fear, but sometimes I leave it all behind and go skydiving!" I didn't quite get it. And beyond that, there were three lights - one labelled "3 minutes", one labelled "Standby" and one labelled "Jump!". As we climbed up to 14 000 feet, Mitch and I exchanged looks, laughs and jokes. We sang songs like Freefallin' and Blaze of Glory, much to the annoyance of the other two jumpers.
It took a while for us to climb all that way, I was surprised. But when the 3-minute light finally came on, the instructors sprang into action, finishing clipping themselves onto us and doing their final checks of the equipment. The 3-minute light switched off and the Standby light turned on. One of the instructors opened the side door and the noise got even louder. We felt the rush of the wind force its way into the plane and suddenly we weren't making jokes any more. The big guy went out first, followed by the other lady. Then it was my turn. Notice my face in the video just as I'm about to jump. When it comes to fear, there are two types of people in the world - screamers and freezers. I'm absolutely a freezer. Just as I'm stepping out through the door, my face seems to say "If I don't move a muscle, everyone will forgot I'm here and the danger will pass."
Have you ever been on a rollercoaster? As you start to go down a dip, your body seizes up, wanting to get itself to stable ground. This confirms that you're falling, just in case you didn't know. But your body expects you to land in less than a second. So when three seconds pass and you still aren't on the ground, your body stops screaming at you and reevaluates its situation. After those first few seconds, it becomes really enjoyable. You don't even feel like you're falling, you just feel like you're lying on a really big fan. You can probably see if you watched the video that the parachute opening was the worst part for me. It was very jarring and gave me a split-second of fear that something had gone wrong.
One thing you didn't see in the video was that Mitch got royally messed up by the fall. Mere seconds after the cameras stopped rolling, Mitchell stumbled off to the water's edge, fell to his knees and vomited. It was kinda hilarious.
So that rounds out my New Experience Challenge. I headed outside my comfort zone a few times, did some things that I fell in love with and kept doing, met some awesome people and got some great stories. I'm taking a break from any crazy stunts this year, but I could use some suggestions on what sort of project I could work on in 2015. Preferably something that can get me interviewed on TV. I have a friend who got on Sunrise (one of our Australian morning shows) for organising a "No Pants Tram Ride" which dozens of people attended. I also had another mate who was interviewed on The Project (our version of The Daily Show) for putting a night out with himself up for auction on eBay. I felt like this New Experience Challenge deserved a wider audience, but I sure am glad I got to share it with you.
Now I want to go bigger.