Jo tries… tandem sky diving

Hurtling towards Queensland’s Byron Bay from 14,000 feet, strapped to a complete stranger, zillions of miles from home, you’d think you’d be scared, right?

I’m not an emotional concrete block; this sort of thing would usually scare the crap out of me. Shocked, disoriented, nauseous, pained, surprised and relieved were all felt during the jump, yet somehow, not scared.

I was not scared when asked whether the harness was comfortable or not; nor when John, my tandem partner, had to go and speak to a student about a lesson leaving someone else to finish strapping me in; nor when John returned and his replacement asked if she’d strapped me in correctly; not when 10 of us, attached in pairs, were stuffed into the back of plane, its insides ripped out and corrugated sheeting fitted as the ‘door’.

Not when John said he wasn’t ignoring me he just had sinus problems as he tipped his head back and closed his eyes; not when we were higher than the peak of Mount Warning and then being told there were still 1500 feet to go; not when three minutes time was called and the final preparation began as the tandemites were tied tighter to their tandem partners and goggles were lowered; not when I hung outside the door, feet behind me, head back, arms under straps, ready to plunge into oblivion…

Shock hit as we tumbled forward, wind racing past my ears, mouth open and dry as a dusty plain; disorientation grew as the world spun around me, a blur of aqua marine, lush green and cobalt blue; nausea drained my stomach.

‘Stop the ride I want to get off’ flitted briefly through my G-force addled brain; pain hit when my right ear sparked with pressure, dissipating after clamping hand to ear to relieve the wind rush; surprise as a jerk on the shoulders (no, not the instructor) signified the ’chute opening and filling with air, abruptly halting our rapid descent; relief as quiet descends and I’m floating 12,000 feet above the earth’s surface in awe of coastal seas, raging surf and inland forests; I’m not even scared when I’m asked to hook my hands under my knees, raise my feet and prepare to land, in a seated position, on the grassy airfield.

As John gathers up the canvas and signs my certificate, my thumping heart tells me that while my head may have been fearless, my body is in all kinds of holy hell.

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