....... JUST DO IT
The past four months since I took over as Marketing Manager here at Netheravon have been a bit of a whirlwind. I’ve gotten used to seeing the colourful parachutes of the military and students dropping outside my office window. The slight trepidation of the general public before they take that great leap of faith, and the total elation when they have landed back on terra firma! However, for me there’s always been that thought, ‘wonder what that would really be like’? Well last weekend I decided to put my money where my marketing mouth is – after all if I am selling parachuting to the public then I need to know what really happens after that aircraft leaves the ground! The question is, you can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk??
So last weekend found me in the clear blue and (for once) sunny skies of Wiltshire jumping out of an aircraft at 13000 feet strapped to one of the country’s most experienced instructors and experiencing the most exhilarating morning I can remember for a very long time.
OK, I am probably biased, but where else can you be trained by the country’s best military instructors, where safety is paramount and where they are truly motivated to give every single person who skydives the very best day? I can honestly say that absolutely everyone who comes here to tandem skydive gets the same care and attention as the next person. For those who maybe slightly more fearful than others, it’s reassuring to be told that just one single clip on a parachute can pull a double decker bus - and you don’t see too many of them flying around Salisbury Plain!
The thirty minutes training is worth its weight in gold! Your tandem instructor has to have at least 800 jumps under his belt before he can jump with someone else. You understand what he is carrying on his back, from the drogue that slows you on exit to the main canopy deployment and should he ever need it, the reserve.
There is also the opportunity to have your whole skydive recorded from start to finish! For instance did you know that every photographer has to have done at least 500 jumps at Netheravon before he can even attempt to film anything? I had my own Red Devil, Lee as my cameraman, as well as being an excellent skydiver he made it his mission to keep me laughing!
I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel apprehensive, but this was soon dispelled as Tony my tandem instructor gave me a guided tour of what I was seeing out of the aircraft window, although I didn’t like to tell him that as I was only 5’ tall I had a problem seeing out too far! He constantly updated me with what height we were at on the 15 minute flight to altitude. I did have an added extra, as my boss Jackie – a highly skilled skydiver herself – was going to give me a Wingsuit flypast as I jumped! I got to the stage of feeling too excited to be scared.
Your instructor shuffles you to the door, you’re strapped very tightly to him; then there is a moment when the door opens and you know the only way out is down! Lee is already outside holding onto the side of the aircraft laughing at me – one deep breath, head back and we were out, flying through the clear blue air of Wiltshire, high above the drop zone that is Netheravon. Wow, what a view: Tony is telling me to look right and left, can I see the Solent, the Isle of Wight, the White Horses of Wiltshire, Jackie is Wingsuiting below me – Lee is bobbing up in front and below me with a camera, laughing and making me grin. We free fall for 45 seconds at about 120 miles an hour and then the canopy is pulled.
Total silence greets you as you gently float back to earth. We talk all the way down about what we can see. Tony is saying lets go left and then right. In all too short a time we are landing on the drop zone. You raise your legs as you’ve been trained to do and your instructor lands on his feet and gently slides to the ground. You’re back!
Despite the fact they have seen it all before Tony and Lee are as exhilarated as you are. You catch your breath and wonder why you were ever concerned about jumping out a perfectly serviceable aircraft.
So my message is, if you have ever thought about it and wondered; “what would it be like”? Wonder no more – JUST DO IT! Our strap line is ‘One Day, One Jump, One Amazing Adventure’ – nothing could be more accurate!
“I had a truly awesome experience yesterday, in every way. I was absolutely terrified but felt totally invincible afterwards and I even fell in love with your cameraman, Mike! Cam was lovely too and if I decide to do it again it would have to be with him. It was all very professional, from start to finish. They were a great bunch and I will recommend this to anyone and everyone. I jumped for the MS Trust and secured £723 in sponsorship so far with promises of more to come. It is great to feel alive again.”
“First ever tandem skydive for worthing churches homeless project today, loved it. Special thanks to my instructor Jay and the cameraman trevor who both made me laugh a lot and really relaxed me! definately want to jump again Thanks guys for a great day!”
"First charity tandem skydive done here last Saturday. Despite being extremely scared, the instructors made me feel completely at ease and in safe hands. Highly recommend anyone doing a jump, to do it here. Would definitely consider doing another skydive off the back of this experience despite my fear of heights and flying. Brilliant day and life experience. Thank you."
"First ever tandem skydive....amazing!!! Massive thank you to my instructor Gary u were fab!!!"
"Amazing Day, looked after from start to finish, great people, very friendly, relaxed atmosphere, Pete my tandem partner.. TOP BLOKE he was very professional and experienced. HIGHLY RECOMMEND this to anyone."
"Wow first ever tandem skydive today for oakhaven. Raised over £1000, so thank you all ... with my daughter Leah lopez, amazing surreal, nothing else like it. Thank you to Gary and Jay...... Leah now wants to do more and do a single jump!! Eeek!"