I just had an excellent weekend.
I was down at Bridgewater drop zone in Victoria where I was the instructor for eight people intent on becoming part of a very select group – that group who find absolute bliss in falling towards the planet at high speed.
I take great delight in hearing why people want to skydive, and as part of the introduction to the course I try to get into the students heads to see how they tick. This group’s reasons for considering skydiving as a form of relaxation were as varied as they were valid.
The Power of Advertising – The cool, young dude who wore his pants down around his knees in the contemporary style and buried his head in a hoodie. He just wanted to experience something he’d seen on television.
Payback – the older lady on the course just wanted to get back into it having already experienced two tandem skydives before she completed an AFF course and did her Stage 1 jump twelve years ago. She’d gone on to have children and do the domestic thing after that first free fall jump and thought it was now time to do something for herself.
Wait For Me!– A group of three young blokes booked in together; two of them wanted to jump and eventually fly wingsuits, and the third decided he wouldn’t be able to cope if they got to that stage and he was left behind to play catch-up.
Peer Pressure – The young lady on the course who succumbed to continual badgering from two of her friends who were already accomplished skydivers.
What About Me? (perhaps a subset of the Mid Life Crisis group) – The forty-year old gentleman who decided that now was the right time to give it a go considering he’d done the “marry and have kids, get a mortgage and be a slave to The Man” part of life.
Fear No Evil (Kneivel?) – The last member of the group who said he’d never found anything in life that scared him. He was hoping skydiving might be able to unclog his adrenal gland.
Eight souls from completely different walks of life, each looking for that certain, special something.
They handled the theory part of the course well, assimilating the information with interest and enthusiasm, and in the process asking some very good questions. There was none of the “how many people die” stuff I sometimes get asked by students.
They also coped well with the practical drills, especially the emergency procedures section. When you tell someone their reserve parachute isn’t their second chance it’s their last chance it’s amazing how quickly their ears prick up and their attention becomes focussed.
The overnight break from the classroom allowed their brains to analyse and sort all of the information they’d been given, and the next day they arrived eager and for the most part totally on top of their drills.
Some intense workouts in the training harnesses proved they had reached the required standard, and it was with a great deal of pride that I watched each of them being geared-up and escorted to the aircraft.
As each one landed their parachute I experienced that feeling I hope will never disappear. It’s the reason I drive nearly two thousand kilometres on the second weekend of each month to run the AFF course.
Eight people just threw themselves at the ground from a great height and missed.
And all walked away with a smile.
Living the Dream – The guy who gets to do this every month – me.
It’s the best job in the world.