I remember, as a very young expectant mum, there were people who seemed to delight in sharing stories about child birth that did not exactly leave me panting for the experience, but I wanted above all to be a mother so waited with dread for the moment that I would enter into the horrors of ‘labour’! Over 50 years later I can certainly attest that it was worth every contraction, every stitch, every leaky nipple and every effort made to reduce my stretched belly back to its almost original size.
I know that jumping out of a plane can in no way equate to the birthing experience but it has been for me the birth of an expectation. I always wanted to know what it would feel like to fly and I always said that I wanted to die doing something exciting. These two factors made it easier for me to accept when I won a Red Balloon experience. Having survived two threats to my longevity which necessitated too much bed rest, I am really enjoying my present health which allows me to take some risks that I may not have been able to do when I was younger. Well it may take me a little longer to get out of a chair these days, but once I have got everything in motion, I can go like the clappers and I am so thankful.
But when people heard about my willingness to jump from a plane, the horror stories emerged. Everyone I talked to seemed to know of someone who’d had a negative experience – broken bones, leaky bladders, unexpected diarrhoea and one instance where someone had actually been killed doing exactly what I was planning to do. Adding to all of this unsolicited information I decided to buy a paper for the first time in the three week period I have been here on holiday. Emblazoned on the front page was a large photo of several people who had ‘jumped’ at the St Kilda site and had been blown off course by a sudden unexpected gust of wind which resulted in a very frightening experience. On page eight there was another story about a sky diving accident in the UK.
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Now I am someone who cannot even look over the balcony in a seven storey building without feeling decidedly queasy, and although I was a tree climbing monkey when I was a child, I am badly affected by heights, but I figure that once I leave the confines of that plane, I cannot go back and I will pretend I am a bird and hopefully enjoy the rush of adrenaline and weightlessness.
At 73 I can no longer comfort myself with the mantra, “Only the good die young”, but those who know me understand if I say I am going to do something I will not back out. This has not always been to my benefit but I guess I’m too old to change now.
I have been feeling rather calm about my upcoming adventure and even when last night I heard the wind howling around the house where I am staying, I didn’t allow myself to be concerned. I felt disappointed when Sky Dive rang me at 8.00am to say that I should delay arriving at the Barwon Heads Airport as they were waiting for the weather to improve.
This gave my two ‘fans’ and I time to have coffee and croissants at a sweet little place called Peppercorn before making our way to the airport just after 11.00am. The sky was now blue but the trees seemed to be eerily dancing to the tune of a strong wind, however the delightful young staff were still optimistic that I would get to jump.
I filled in all of the paper work which was carefully worded to absolve Sky Dive of any negligence if I should not survive this experience and there was no attempt to disguise that what I was about to attempt was a risky adventure. Still I felt undeterred. There were quite a few other hopefuls waiting anxiously for the weather to change – but alas it did not happen!
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So with tail between my legs I must return to the Gold Coast tomorrow without my experience of simulating a bird and enjoying the view of The Great Ocean Road from a great height. I was asked if I would be willing to return in the next few weeks.
My answer? YOU BET I WILL! Next exciting chapter coming up.
Have you ever sky dived? Or done something else amazing and extreme? Tell us about it below!