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Beyond the Horizon!

A Brief Look at Life as a Skydiver

Two years ago I would never have imagined my life ending up this way... Hanging onto the outside of a moving aircraft at 15,000ft and looking happy about it but somehow it did.

I did my first freefall skydive when I was 18 years old, two instructors latched either side of me and my very own parachute mounted to my back. It was a navigator 200, I knew nothing about it but it was on me now and I had to put my full faith in it to work. This was my AFF level 1, the first step to achieving my skydiving licence and had put me £300 out of pocket. Now for some £300 might seem an insignificant amount of money but for 18-year-old me who had just failed to get into university, worked long hours for little money, and had no real plan for the year ahead, it may as well have been my mortgage. Think how many times you've punched your pin number into the keypad of a card reader or ATM and tell me, how many times did that change your life? That one transaction, that £300 was perhaps the best decision I've ever made. Right here, in this moment, nothing was going to be the same again and as I sat on that aircraft with the door about to open, my life supposedly about to be revolutionised, all I was ready to do was sh*t my pants. The only thing that would be changing that day would be my underwear.

Okay, so I know that doesn't sound too appealing and believe me, the feeling inside that plane really isn't something you'd pay big money for, in fact, it isn't something you'd pay for at all. The feeling outside the plane though was entirely different altogether. We, as skydivers, call it going over the edge and the only people who know where that edge is are those who have gone over it. If you haven't, no words can explain this feeling to you and if you have, no words are necessary. 

Early Student Days

Myself pictured here on the left of the photo in my early days as a parachutist.

I'd sum up myself up as a pretty terrible skydiving student. I found it difficult to get the hang of basic techniques and, as a result of several failures, ended up spending a lot more money than I had originally planned to. Needless to say, for a while, things didn't get any less scary (if anything, they got worse) which makes people wonder why you would do such a thing. I spent the entire night before my first solo jump absolutely terrified but I kept it up and I've no idea why. I'm not the adventurous type of person. I can't backflip, I don't know any cool skateboard tricks, I can't surf or ride BMX. On top of this, I'm useless at sports and basically have no outstanding talents to speak of. And yet there I was, hurtling towards the Earth at 120 MPH and was achieving something that none of my friends or family or anyone I had ever known had accomplished. I was freefalling by myself!

Doing It for Fun

On a return trip to the dropzone I first learnt to skydive at; it feels like home every time I go back.

So a few weekends ago, sat on the flight-line, there was a nervous first timer. She was a tandem student and quite clearly from the expression on her face, she was ready to bolt out the front door and never look back. But something was keeping her here, willing her on to see this through and it reminded me of the times when I was in the same position she was in. How easy it would be to say just walk away, to back down from what scares us. It's so much harder to see through with something like skydiving, especially when it frightens you so, to whoever that woman was, fair play. Anyway, she was extremely shocked to realise that myself and all the other qualified skydivers are there because they enjoy it. That they work normal jobs like everybody else but have this almost secret life. I feel it was best summed up in her own words "I didn't know people actually did this for fun!" I think that's the point nowadays, it's no longer a scary challenge, instead, it's something I relish and get excited about doing.

Got My Licence... Now What?

Myself on a Recent Hop and Pop at 6000ft

To finish off, how about a quick look at some of the things I've done since getting my licence? It really has been quite an experience and even if you think it's not quite for you, I encourage to try it once, because believe me, it's for everyone. I've found more than just skydiving in this sport, I've found a totally unique culture and lifestyle unheard of in the real world.

I've Made Friends

Survived 100 Jumps

At the time of writing, I had 121 jumps.

Made Even More Friends!

I've Improved My Flying

I remember this jump in particular because before this I was useless at keeping up with people.

Jumped with people I've only just met (best way to make friends)

I've got up close and personal

I've made big rings in the sky (this is just a little one)

Had some brilliant parties

Not stopped smiling

Some weekends I come home from the drop zone and wonder why my cheeks hurt so much... Its the smiling that does it

In flight selfies are a must

I hope you've noticed that I'm not alone in many of these photos. I think its important to remember that without the friends I've made skydiving would be the loneliest sport in the world and I would have given up as soon as I started. The people make it special and when you jump with lots of different people every jump is different. Its why there are some who have made 1000s of jumps and never been bored by it.

I'll end this piece with my favourite and most inspiring quote about skydiving from Dave Stein:

"If I could stand in an open airplane doorway 2 and a half miles above the ground and will myself to step into empty space then, I could do anything"

Thank you


Eoin

Thumbs up after a safe landing... the goal of every skydive

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