What’s it like to… try tandem sky diving

Fear was oddly absent as I dangled my legs out of a rickety old plane at 14,000ft ready to plunge down to Australia’s coastal town of Byron Bay and hopefully not into the jaws of a giant carcharodon carcharias.

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

I’m not an emotional concrete block; this sort of thing would usually scare the crap out of me.

Shocked, disorientated, 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 to the harness.

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 and wouldn’t be speaking much before tipping his head back and closing his eyes.

Not when we were higher than the peak of Mount Warning and then being told there was still 1500 feet to go.

Not when three minutes time was called and the final preparation began, the tandemites tied tighter to their instructors and goggles lowered.

Not when I hung outside the door, feet behind me, head back, arms under straps, ready to plunge into oblivion…

One of my favourite places, Byron Bay (Photo copyright Jo Gunston)

Shock hit as we tumbled forward, wind racing past my ears, mouth locked agape 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 signified the ’chute opening and ballooning 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 all kinds of jelly.

Like this? Well let me recommend these for you too then:
#HaveAGoJo – I try indoor skydiving
#HaveAGoJo – I try tandem hang-gliding… wasn’t entirely confident with the instructor


Author: Jo Gunston

Roving blogging superfan shares behind the scenes stories of her sports life and the best of those from like-minded souls.

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