In 1995 I took up skydiving. I loved it. Lived it. Breathed it. In other words, I bored everybody rigid with it (I’ll try not to do the same here). When Deb fell pregnant with Ben and Catherine I decided to stop. Most people think that this decision was based on safety concerns, but that is in no way correct. It was a question of time. I used to get up at the weekend, drive two hours to the drop zone, spend all day there and then drive two hours back. I would have been an absentee father.
I went out “on a high” so to speak, travelling to Davis in California and jumping with oxygen from 30,000 feet up. I enjoyed views spanning miles in all directions and was in freefall for over two minutes. As a souvenir I was given one of the best pictures ever seen of my backside, but don’t look at that – look at the views! Those nearby hills are 14 miles away, and I could see much further than the photo shows.
My parachute rig and all my other equipment are stored safely in a cupboard at home.
Just in case.
You never know.
Something might come along.
Voss, being the adventure capital of Norway, has a small airport and drop zone. One day, after we had booked our Norway trip, I happened to mention this to my wife. She looked at me and said one word.
And that was that, or was it?
Voss also has a wind tunnel, Vossvind. Even better, children can use it. My wife looked at the videos on the Vossvind website and gave her approval. I’m not sure who was looking forward to it more – the kids or me. Actually, I do know. It was me!
Vossvind is situated to the east of the town, in a remote corner, accessed via a dirt track. How could such high adventure be so tucked away?.
And as for their dad? After 12 years I was worried I had forgotten everything I learned. I thought I might be bouncing all over the place, smashing panels of reinforced glass as I went and ejecting shards of glass into the spectators. I was terrifically happy to discover that it was like riding a bike – once you’ve learnt how to do it, it all comes back naturally. The instructor decided to hop off the floor and join me for a bit of relative work.
“What was it like?” he asked afterwards. It was fantastic, I said, and I’d love to do more of it. All the same, I missed the smell of the parachute fabric. I missed the uncomfortable feeling of having a rig on my back and the pulling of the straps as I walked to the aircraft. I missed the cramped conditions on the plane and then the complete release when jumping out into the freedom of the skies, and the feeling of absolute isolation as I plummeted downwards on my bed of air. And the views are much better 10,000 feet up. Like this, sit flying above Langar in Nottinghamshire.
Date of Visit: 20 July 2014
Points in this post (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):
- Vossvind: N 60° 38.035 E 006° 26.650
- High Altitude Jump in Davis, California: N 38° 35.070 W 121° 51.200
- Sit Fly Jump in Langar, UK: N 52° 53.390 W 000° 54.400