By Beth Enderwick (University of Queensland, Australia)
My weekend trip to Byron Bay is one I’ll never forget, largely because I conquered my first Skydive (I’m saying first because there will be more). I can honestly say it was one of the best things I’ve ever done; there’s no feeling that compares! Skydiving has been number one on my bucket list since I can remember but it had to be somewhere with amazing views. Where better than Australia!?
After arriving at the site at 9am, we had five hours of waiting. This only added to the suspense but soon enough I was so eager to get in the plane that the nerves had turned to excitement. I finally met my tandem partner, Marc, who tried countless times to get a reaction from me. He told me he’d only just started the job (he’d been there 5 years) and then tried to convince me that Julian Rocks was New Zealand. Although his intention was to scare me, I was laughing so much that I felt at ease.
I thought getting into the rickety little plane and ascending 14,000 feet into the sky would be when I started to freak out but this was not the case. Even though the only thing between me and the huge drop was a sheet of plastic they call a door, I couldn’t help but feel content looking out over the views of Byron Bay: Australia’s most easterly point. I even saw whales splashing about in the sea on the way up. Soon after this, the door opened and all the cold air came rushing in. Here, I realised I had never been in a plane with the door open.
I was one of the first to go. I sat on the edge of the plane in the shape of a banana as instructed: head back, arms grasped tightly to the harness and legs tucked under. This was the most frightening part of all as I knew I was escaping safety but it only lasted a few seconds. Next thing I knew, I was whirling out of the plane and everything was happening so fast. These first few seconds were a huge blur to me due to a sensory overload but after the initial turbulence, the motion became smooth. In the midst of it all, my ears popped and I couldn’t hear a thing but this only made it more serene; I was undergoing the most blissful experience of my life.
Marc then tapped me on the shoulder as a signal to open my arms and it no longer felt like I was falling, rather floating. I could clearly see the vast openness below in all its glory. Not once did I think about anything going wrong and any sense of fear I had before had completely vanished; I felt scared in safety and fearless in danger. Then, after sixty seconds had passed, the parachute opened. Everything slowed right down and I found myself drifting peacefully back to the drop zone. My ability to hear returned and Marc reached out his hand for a high five. The sense of freedom was incredible and I did not stop smiling from start to finish.
Will smith said “God placed the best things in life on the other side of terror” which could not be more true. I already can’t wait for my next skydive. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll do it solo!