We love sharing stories of our newer skydiving members. So welcome to Kerry Clark who is midway through her Accelerated Freefall course. She comes from an unlikely skydiving background but has bags of progression, and enthusiasm.
1. You started your skydiving career with a tandem skydive? How did that come about – present, work do, charity event?
My husband had bought me the tandem skydive for a Christmas present last year as I have always said I would love to do one and honestly it was such an incredible experience (Noel was my instructor for the jump, made me feel so at ease). I knew as soon as we touched the ground I wanted to learn how to skydive not only for the rush of the freefall but the stunning views too.
2. After completing your tandem, was it an instant desire to go for the Accelerated Freefall qualification?
I knew straight away I wanted to do the AFF course, all I can remember thinking is I wanted to go straight back up it was that incredible.
3. How did your initial training go? What did you learn about? What were your instructors like?
I must admit the initial training was very good, there is so much to learn and practice from learning from body positioning, hand signals, learning our kit and how to deploy our parachute at 6000ft. We also learned about how to exit the plane correctly and locate designated landing area (dropzone).
My instructor Clair was absolutely amazing, she was so patient with questions and every time I forgot a maneuver. But most of all, she kept telling us all to relax and smile and enjoy ourselves.
4. Tell us about that first AFF level? Were you nervous?
When the day came to do my AFF level 1 I was so nervous, the whole day I remember thinking I’m really going to do this I’m actually going to throw myself out of a plane, what happens if I mess up and forget everything I have been taught! But once I was in the plane I knew I was going to do just fine and I did, once I jumped I remembered everything I had to do.
The two instructors were fantastic and the communication they gave me was good. In freefall, they gave me a few different hand signals to get a better body position and also gave me a big thumbs up when I responded. Once my canopy opened and I was just flying through the air, I knew I had made the right choice doing the course.
I felt so alive, and once I landed which unfortunately was on my bum, I was looking forward to completing the rest of the levels.
5. It’s common for Level 1 AFF jumpers to feel a bit overwhelmed by what is going on in freefall. Did you find this was the same for you?
Yes I certainly did, no matter how ready you think you are, trust me you are not! My first reaction was how the hell do I breathe! But with the amount of practice you do, I quickly came to my senses and knew what I had to do and level 2 went much more better as you know what to expect a little bit better.
6. Have you ever done anything else that you would class as adventurous or extreme sport related?
Before I ventured the world of skydiving I’ve never done anything classed as extreme sport, my friends and family thought I had gone mad!
7. Have you had to repeat any levels yet and how many do you have left to go?
I did have to repeat my level 5 which I was gutted about as I felt so confident as my level 4 was fantastic. When I fluffed my level 5, Clair was like what happened ? because in the plane, I was so relaxed and happy, I couldn’t wait. I think what happened was that I was over eager which caused me to over-rush the exit and I ended up tumbling. Clair released me and I managed to get stable and I did a little turn to the right but stopped as I didn’t put enough input into it.
My position was slightly wrong, but I deployed fine and even landed in the rapeseed field with a mouth full! Safe to say it was an epic fail!??. But Clair was fantastic in the debrief and after going over what I did wrong, she gave me loads of positives of what I did right ?. I then went up and nailed it!
I only have my level 7 and 8 to go this is booked in this week!
8. If you had to describe what the actual sensation of freefall is like to someone who has never done it before, what would you say?
I honestly think I’m starting to drive people nuts banging on about how amazing the freefall is, it’s so hard to describe as there’s no feeling like it. It doesn’t feel like I’m falling, but the wind hitting you at that speed certainly reminds me that I am. If anything I’d say it’s a little like floating.
9. What disciplines in skydiving would you like to get into right now? Formation Skydiving, freeflying, wingsuiting, etc.
I would absolutely love to do formation skydiving, I watch all the guys practicing on the ground, they make it look so easy.
10. You job is a nanny / housekeeper, so you work with kids. Have you shown them photos of your skydiving yet?
The youngest girl I look after (she is 4) absolutely loves looking at my photos and videos from my jumps. She keeps asking if she can come with me – she is a little dare devil herself, and the two older children think I’m crazy .
11. When you are not throwing yourself out of airplanes, what other sports or interests do you have?
When I’m not throwing myself out of planes I like to go running. I got into running last year as I wanted to get fit for when I did my tandem and I’ve never looked back, I also absolutely love going to theme parks with the kids they love the big rides as much as me.
Check out this gallery featuring Martin Skrbel’s shots!
If you want to have a go at Accelerated Freefall, you have two options – you can try a level 1 course, or you can do the full 8 levels and get qualified!