Sunday, 2 September 2012

To Infinity and Beyond

Didn't know if I would even get to write this blog post this weekend at all after all the delays yesterday.

After getting up at 7am, waking up my husband and son Ryan, my dad and friend Fiona arrived and we all left for the Skydive centre an hour away.

Nerves were ok, more excitement than nerves. Get to the skydive centre after what seemed like forever, and nerves kicked in a bit. Got to meet the rest of the MCC crew including Aud and her hubby Joe. I have known Aud online for several years but never meeting her before then. There were a few of the MCC dogs around as well as loads of kids.

We all went in to the reception together and signed up and we were given the forms to fill in. I don’t think I've signed my name so many times on one form before!! I think the form said SKYDIVING CAN RESULT IN DEATH OR SERIOUS INJURY and YOU ARE NOT COVERED BY ANY INSURANCE about 10 times!! We wearily signed them and went back outside to watch the first divers. It was a mild day but very windy, which we later found out wasn't good. The first divers who were probably student divers took off, 8 in a plane and we watched as they seemed VERY far away.... ehhhh are we sure we want to do this??? It only served to make the blood pump faster...we all wanted to just get up there!!

 So we waited, and waited......eventually 4 of our names were called, I wasn’t one of them, we all went outside to watch as Eleanor B got into her plane and off she went! We couldn’t figure out which dot she was until she landed!! She was smiling ear to ear when she got over to us!! Couldn’t be that bad then, could it??
Eleanor with Cliona after her dive
Next was the other 3, and by this stage it had gotten really windy, so off they went in the tiny plane, and about 10 mins later we heard an announcement that the weather had changed too much and it was too dangerous to dive and they just brought back the plane without letting anyone jump....bummer, but I suppose its better to be bored waiting than to do something too dangerous. Jumping out of the plane is dangerous enough!!

 We all waited till about 6 when Paul the main guy there told us the rain was coming and the wind was just getting worse so to just come back the next day if we could. So a little tired and disheartened we all headed our separate ways.

Sunday morning and the alarm went off at 8. I took a peek out the window...No wind!! Bits a blue sky...looking good!
Rang the dive centre around 9am and they advised to wait till lunch time as it was raining there, damn it, that didn’t sound good. We made our way out there anyway in the highest of hopes. There were lots of people there again today, but we didn’t have to sign the forms again and just had to wait, the sun was shining by about 1pm and our hopes were lifted, there was hardly any wind either!! Then we were told we would be what they called load 7!  It would be about another hour, in that time they let Andrea’s husband Lee go up alone, and we got to watch as Andrea nearly lost her life worrying about Lee, who didn’t have a bother on him, he was as cool as a cucumber.
Lee the cool dude
 We all watched in horror as we could actually see him free falling...they were going soooo fast...oh sweet jebus that’s going to be us I thought as I watched him tumble toward earth....When he landed we could see him Hi5 his instructor, true skydiver style! Andrea will get great mileage out of teasing him about his Hi5ing skydiving buddies!!

Painting Auds face
 We sat around waiting our turn getting some photos of the gang with Shannon the assistance dog. My husband Peter came up with the bright idea of me face painting the divers including me as dogs!! – I’m a face painter and had my kit in the boot of the car. I had finished painting Aud's face when my name was called out to go get set up...eeeek...
I ran into the hangar and met Tony my instructor and he got my suit on and I put my MCC t-shirt over it and he rigged up the harness. I was almost set to go, getting excited now! Once ready I went back outside to paint Eleanor’s face and then painted my own. Then Aud and Eleanor were called to get their suits along with Joy. I was getting worried I was going to be going on my own after thinking I was going up with the other 3 all day, but thank god my instructor was just over eager to get me ready early and I would be jumping with the other three girls.
Me with Ellie, Joy and Aud just before our jump
Tony called me back in to give me a little bit of instruction and to tighten everything. I was really relieved when he said he would run through it all when we were in the plane again cos it all went in one ear and out the other! My husband had organised a DVD and photos, which were really worth it, so while we were waiting to board, the camera guy was filming us...its getting real now!!

 Then the plane arrived at the gate and we were called over the intercom. As soon as we were in the plane and the door closed, I could feel the butterflies, mixture of nerves and excitement!! Everyone was so calm it was kind of surreal!!

 Watching out the window and Tony tells me we are at 5000 feet and briefly runs through my instructions again, having to shout over the loud engine and wind noises! He explained I would be diving second after Aud. I had to remember to keep my head up was all that was running through my head...we were nearly there!!
You don't jump out you fall out!
All of a sudden Tony shouted "DOOR"!! And the door was slid open....HOLY CRAP!!!! Within seconds I could see Aud falling out the door, that’s the only way to describe it; they don’t jump, they just fall out!

Then it was my turn, I don’t think I was nervous now, I was just looking forward to getting to the ground!! Tony shuffled across the floor with me strapped to his lap, told me to put my head and legs back and ...WOOOOOOSSSSSSSHHHHHHH

 Holding tight to the harness, the rumble of the air past my ears was like nothing I’ve ever heard before. I could feel the speed, but it doesn’t feel like falling. It’s actually an indescribable feeling. Tony tapped me on the head to let me know I could let go of the harness and put my arms out, I could see the camera guy on front of me and I knew I was smiling from ear to ear and gave him the thumbs up, well I think I did, with the velocity it might not have looked like I was! The loud rumbling continued forever, then I got a little frightened when the pressure on my chest made it hard for me to breathe and I was probably panicking a little then. You couldn't see anything but blue and white at this stage we were too far away from the ground and there were clouds beneath us so there was nothing to see below us.
Then just as we reached the clouds I could feel us slowing down, at first I thought I was imagining it, I thought it was the clouds cushioning us! No, it was just the parachute. We couldn't see a thing while we were in the cloud, was like a really heavy fog, for those few minutes it felt like myself and Tony were the only ones in the sky!


Then we found a gap in the cloud and headed out. He showed me Dublin in the distance and showed me how to make the parachute move around and twirl around. It was amazing, just gliding down; I could just see the dive centre coming up and as we got closer I could see my husbands blue t-shirt waving...

Then it hit me! I had just done a skydive!! I had actually jumped out of a plane at 10,000 feet!!!

Coming in to land
 We landed perfectly and made our way across the field back to the hanger. My son Ryan ran to hug me followed closely by my husband Peter. The families of the other girls also came running over to greet them. We were all speechless! We couldn’t describe what had just happened, it was just amazing. My parents had just arrived as we were landing along with my Granddad and my brother who brought my niece Katelynn with him, the very reason for me doing the jump in the first place.

We each got our cert’s. and a few more photos for the road.
After 2 days and a lot of laughs and new friends, it was all over. We all packed up our gear and headed off with our heads still in the clouds over Offaly somewhere!!

It was an amazing experience and one I would defiantly do again, I was so happy to do something for My Canine Companion, and even happier to spend the weekend with some amazing people!! Hopefully will meet them again soon!!

To Infinity and Beyond!!!!