Photo of the week 2014 – Week 12
All I could hear was the monotonous mechanical whirl of the rotator blades – their sound a constant reassurance that this tiny tin plane was even capable of staying airborne – and a middle aged man whispering quietly in to my ear. Usually this would have put me off, especially coupled with the fact that I was already sitting in his crotch, but like the whirl of the rotator blades, his presence was more than just reassurance; it was necessary. After all, if you are planning on jumping out of a plane at 14,000ft for the first time in your life it’s usually a good idea to do it with someone who knows what they are doing.
“If you look down to your left you will be able to see the Great Barrier Reef,” my skydiving instructor said to me.
With vivid greens, browns and blues, the Great Barrier Reef looks more like a giant abstract painting at 14,00ft than anything else. Its colours are mesmeric, and for a brief second I completely forgot where I was and why I was so high in the sky.
At that height reality is suspended and you completely dissociate and distance yourself to the fact you are actually going to jump out of a plane at 14,000ft.
“If you’re ready Macca, you can slide open the door of the plane.” It was only when my instructor spoke to me again that I was brought back to the present moment.
I bum-shuffled over to the door, slide it open over my head, and swung my legs round, dangling them in mid-air while my instructor spoke to the other people in the plane. Once he finished he turned back to me.
“Now, you remember your training, don’t you? Cross your arms and arch your back like a banana. When I’ve opened the parachute you can relax. Ok, you’re good to go – jump when you’re ready.”
With a thrust of the body I threw myself out of the plane into the blue and white abyss of sky and cloud, arms and legs flailing everywhere, screams taken by the rushing wind.
Hurtling towards earth and gaining more and more speed, I only had time to really process one emotion; pure exhilaration. With freefalling for only a minute, I was loving each individual second.
After too short an amount of time, my instructor pulled open our parachute.
“What happened to crossing your arms and arching your back like a banana eh!?” my instructor yelled into my ear.
Being completely caught up in the moment, I forgot all the training I had just hours before. Speaking back, I said: “Sorry mate. If you want we can go back. I’m sure I’d get it right a second time around…”