Interview: Mark Richards

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

1. Tell us a bit about your first tandem please? When, where and most importantly why.

My first tandem skydive was on the 29th July 2021. For myself it’s more how and not why, I wasn’t even thinking about doing a tandem skydive. In May 2021, I did a zip wire ride in South Wales. Chatting to a couple beforehand, they asked if I’ve ever done a bungee jump, my reply was an emphatic NO. My mind started to think on my return home. One thing lead to another. I had a bungee jump in June and then booked my first tandem skydive up. If I hadn’t met the couple, there wouldn’t of been a bungee jump or tandem skydives.

2. Over the years, you have now done 17 tandems, what has made you keep coming back? And why did you not end up doing an Accelerated Freefall course?

It’s the adrenaline rush of the whole experience that brings me back. As regards the AFF course, I’m too old to start it in the UK. I’ve been told I could do the first three parts of the course abroad and complete it in the UK. Not being able to drive doesn’t help, so I’m just more than happy to book a tandem skydive up and if the weathers looking good I try and change the date.

3. Do you have a favourite tandem jump and why?

It’s got to be the first one. It was a case of what have I experienced and was the biggest adrenaline rush I’ve ever had.  My second tandem was booked the following week! What made it special was that my mind was thinking of all sorts of things on the flight to altitude, but once out of the plane it was bliss.

4. Have you ever been in a wind tunnel and what was that experience like?

I haven’t had wind tunnel experience. If I did consider going for my AFF, I would have wind tunnel time before starting it. As it stands, I don’t think wind tunnel time is necessary if I’m not going for my AFF.

5. If you had to describe what freefall actually feels like to someone who hasn’t done it before, what would you say?

It’s certainly an intense experience. With the noise of the wind and your body being buffeted my the wind. Strangely it feels like you’re floating rather than falling at 120mph. It’s seeing peoples smiles after their skydives.

6. Would you describe yourself as sporty at all? What other sports do you like to do?

The only sport I’ve competed at is lawn bowls. I reached a decent standard, represented my local area for a number of years. Sadly a number of clubs have closed due to lack of numbers. I’ve also travelled the country watching a lot of football over the years, more for the love of the game rather than one particular team. I’m tempted to watch the Magic Weekend in rugby league next year if it’s held in Newcastle. I’ll plan another tandem skydive if that happens.

7. When you are not skydiving, what do you do for work?

I was made redundant about six years ago and I’m now retired, it’s only myself so I thought why not make the most of it! I don’t have any close family, both parents have sadly passed away and I have no brothers or sisters. I worked in the steel industry for 31 years in various production roles. Since the Covid pandemic, I’ve started to walk a lot. Usually between 30-40 miles per week. I’ve lost quite a bit of weight through my walking and probably, I would of been to heavy to have a tandem skydive if I hadn’t started my walking. I do enjoy my cooking, nothing elaborate though. Mainly batch meals that I can freeze.

8. What future skydiving plans do you have?

I quite like visiting a variety of dropzones and I have some more planned later this year. I’m also hoping to come back across to Hibaldstow too. Next year there will be more of the same. Looking at visiting more locations. After that, the aim would to have 2 or 3 per year. That was the intention for this year, but I’ve already had 11. Maybe one day I’ll feel that’s it I’m done with tandem skydiving.

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