‘Embrace the fear’…

Written by Stuart Revnell No Gravatar

…is the slogan of NZone, the Queenstown-based skydiving company which has been on our radar for about seven months.  Way back when we were planning this trip, we decided that a skydive would be a cool thing to do, if terrifying.  Frankly, though, it’s not that scary when you’re just sitting there in the pub talking about it, seven months in advance of it happening.

We first got to Queenstown about a week ago, and saw that NZone had a prominent office here, and lots of advertising – there was no way we could pretend to forget we’d planned to do one.  We didn’t sign up on our first visit though, and instead headed down to Milford Sound for a rather more sedate kayaking trip.  When we came back through Queenstown though, we decided that we should go to have a chat with them at least, explaining my fear of heights to them (my friend James could attest to this, having sat through a two hour coach journey through the Austrian alps once, where I had my head in my hands for the whole journey and was almost shaking with fear) and seeing if it was really our thing or not.  No pressure – then we could head back to the van and have a chat over a glass of wine over whether it was something we wanted to do or not.

I wrote a couple of emails yesterday morning to friends, explaining that we might give it a go, and when we logged off, we headed over to NZone to have our no pressure, no obligation chat.

“Hey there, can I help you?”

“Hi there, yeah…we’re interesting in having a chat about doing a skydive, and were wondering what the availability’s like too.”

“Cool, man – well we’ve got a van leaving in ten minutes.  Weather’s perfect today too – looks like it’s going downhill from tomorrow.”

And so it was that we found ourselves, an hour later, in our skydiving suits, walking towards a small propeller plane with a shark’s face painted on the nose, about to fly to 12,000 feet and jump out.

Everything went so quickly, it seemed unreal.  The roar of the propellers increased, the plane started bumping along the grass runway as it accelerated, and we were off.  We sat on the floor in the back, climbing steeply, and suddenly it started to get very real.  As we climbed, the ground dropped away in front of us, and the office building where ten minutes ago, we’d been sitting drinking tea, seemed impossibly small.  “We’re just about 4,000 feet now,” my instructor told me.  Jesus Christ, I thought…only 4,000?  Do we seriously have another 8,000 to go?

Four minutes to go, my instructor told me, and he strapped all my clips to his and did the final safety checks.  The plane levelled off, and the red light went on.  One minute to go.  The side door slid open, and my instructor shunted us both forward.  I barely had time to think, and before I knew it, he had slid forward, and I was hanging over the edge of the plane, legs back, and head up.  The mountains spread out to the horizon in all directions, underneath a clear, blue sky, and the ground was very, very far away.

And then the plane was gone.  I have never, ever experienced anything quite like what happened next.  Suddenly the noise of the air was deafening, and it felt like my stomach had just been slammed up into my mouth.  We dropped like a stone in freefall for forty five seconds, plummeting faster and faster towards terminal velocity, and I think I uttered quite a few expletives throughout this time.

Then suddenly, the velocity slowed in a heartbeat, and it felt like we were yanked upwards abruptly.  And then…well, it was time to relax and take in the amazing views.  The beautiful landscape, visible for who knows how many miles in each direction, was breathtaking, and down we floated gently, albeit with the occasional twinge of fear when my instructor would turn the ‘chute to ensure an on-target landing.  Five minutes later, I lifted my legs up as instructed, and we came to a very gentle landing, right back by where we’d started.

Absolutely incredible.

One Response to “‘Embrace the fear’…”

  1. SarahNo Gravatar says:

    Well done!! Pictures are amazing!! xx

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