It’s been a while since we did a blog post featuring one of the many stories we have from charity tandem skydives, so here we have Neil Buck talking about his experiences. Enjoy:
1. How did you first hear of the charity tandem skydive for St Barnabas Hospice? And did you enroll voluntarily?
I heard about it from the charity’s website and I enrolled voluntarily as I wanted something exciting to do at the same time as raising money for a very special charity. St Barnabas Hospice have done so much for my wife and my father in their final days. They do a great job offering palliative care nearby to me in Lincoln.
2. What was the minimum you have to raise to participate and did you find it easy asking friends and colleagues for money?
I had to raise a minimum of £395, but in the end, we raised over £500 and it was easy asking family and friends, as they all knew what the charity did for us as a family. I also think that the idea of doing a tandem skydive is a great way to fundraise because you have to have some bottle to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. There’s plenty of other fundraising activities, like sponsored runs and walks, but for me, this is something where I thought I could really make a difference, plus my Dad was in the Parachute Regiment himself so it was a nod to him too.
3. When you arrived at the dropzone, did you find the training brief to be confidence-building?
The training was excellent and was pitched with a relaxed but serious tone. This gave me all the confidence I needed in the jumping technique, equipment and my tandem partner. All the people who give the training session are instructors themselves, so that gives you confidence too. We learned everything we needed from how the parachute works to the body position needed in freefall.
4. Which part of the skydive did you find the scariest?
To be honest I didn’t find anything scary, surprisingly! Beforehand, I thought it would be when I was sat on the edge of the plane waiting to jump, but actually, that was one of the best bits! I just wanted to do it so much and have a thrill that I was just excited by it all. I will be honest though, I did have to go to the loo before putting the parachute on!!
5. Can you describe what the experience of freefalling is like for all those who have never done it before?
The rush of falling at 120mph is just amazing! It’s definitely an attack on all the senses and I couldn’t stop smiling! The feelings you get at all stages of the jump and the views are unforgettable. I loved the high-intensity of the freefall bit which lasts a minute and then the gently floating sensation once the instructor had opened the parachute. Both magical in their own way.
6. Is this your first extreme sports adventure?
Yes, but hopefully not the last!
7. Lastly, do you have any advice for those thinking of doing their own first skydive?
Don’t have any doubts or second thoughts, it doesn’t matter if you are 16 (the minimum age I believe) or if you are 100, JUST DO IT, You won’t regret it.
Making your first tandem skydive for charity is easier than you think. Firstly, pick a charity that means something to you. We have a big list of recognised charities here. If you want to pick your own, make sure you’ve checked with them that they are ok with that. Most charities usually ask that a minimum of 50% of the funds raised go to them which is typically around £400 total, so they would get £200. However, many of our customers raise a lot more than the minimum and in those cases, the charity takes the excess funds.
When you start fundraising, the key is to be both honest and to say why you are doing it. Start with your friends and family, then you can also ask your work colleagues. Always have your sign-up sheet with you, because you never know who you will bump into. Try to allow around 6 weeks to raise your money.
When the day finally comes, you will arrive at the dropzone and sign in. You will have to sign a disclaimer before your 20-minute training session begins. That’s where the adventure really begins! The best piece of advice we can give is to trust our instructors, they really know what they are doing and have had to pass some seriously rigorous training qualifications before becoming an instructor. Lastly, enjoy it, the feeling of freefalling at 120mph is totally amazing.