Interview – Ben Chigumira

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

1. How did you come up with the idea of learning to skydive in the first place and why did you choose Skydive Hibaldstow as the place to learn?
I have always wanted to do a tandem skydive ever since I was at university. It was on my list of to do things. It has taken me 10 years to get through the list, but I am glad I did. A few years I ago when I was at work, I came across one of the skydiving instructors by the name Ben (yeah what a coincidence right!). He mentioned he was a skydiving instructor at the age of 22 and I couldn’t believe it.

We got talking and he told me he worked at Hibaldstow working as a skydiver and if I ever wanted to try it, I should come by one day. Some three years later, I found myself wanting to sign up for a tandem skydive, but on the website they was a section on Accelerated Freefall course, where I could learn and get my own qualification.The difference between doing a tandem and doing AFF Level 1 was minimal, so I decided to sign up for the AFF level 1 just to get the experience of free falling and deploying a parachute myself. Four months later, here I am, jumping out of aeroplanes on my own enjoying the breathtaking views of Lincolnshire & Humberside.


2. Tell us about your ground school? Did you find it intense, did you feel properly prepared?
Ground school was very nerve wrecking, I must say. Although we got emails briefing us on what to expect on the day, the fear of the unknown always kicks in. Clair was our ground school instructor who was amazing and as much as we had fun doing the classes, she always hammered in us the importance of safety and taking everything she taught seriously, because when we up there, what we have been taught comes into practice. The training school has everything one needs to simulate actual skydiving. There are harness to help one get used to the equipment, make shift doors to simulate exiting planes, etc. It was a lot to take in but the systematic way in which the information was delivered it helped us prepare for the actual jump the next day.


3. When you were climbing to 15000ft for the first time, were you scared or nervous?
It was a set of mixed feelings, excitement, nervousness and I must admit at one point scary! Everyone on the plane was very chatty and calm, because they are used to this and it helps you feel comfortable. The instructors were constantly checking on you and going through a few drills to make sure you were ready. The most nerve wrecking part was when we reached 15000ft and the door opened and you see the other experienced divers jump out 🙈. Then you know, its your turn to jump and enjoy the ride….


4. For those who have never skydived before, please describe what freefall feels like?
It’s a feeling which is difficult to describe to be honest. From the door opening and nerves kicking in and seeing others leave the plane, to the part when it’s your turn to be stood at the door and count down… OUT IN & JUMP…..The world seems to stop for a second and your body goes into a freefall… You look around and you see yourself ‘flying’, you are not tumbling down to the ground like a stone, but you are peacefully floating…. THEN there is a lot happening – it’s like a sensory overload, since it’s the first time the body has experienced this.

During ground school, our instructor did say at one point you will forget who you are, where you are because your brain is excited and you are in disbelief that you are in this amazing place. That happened to me and the instructors where there to get me back to reality 😂. It was simply amazing!


5. You have just passed your level 7, which one of your previous jumps was your favourite?
It has to be my Level 7 without no doubt. Although I was under a lot of pressure to pass it and being marked by one of the best instructors Chris M (he is also the chief instructor). I was able to do everything I was required to do, not only did I pass the level but I really really enjoyed the whole jump, from exiting the plane to do the back flip, tracking and the controlled 360 degrees turns.

The moment I was able to shake my instructors hand during the skydive, that was the moment that brought a huge smile to my face. I have a video of that moment, I still look at it and I can’t help it but smile.


6. What is your canopy control like? Are you standing up your landings yet?
My canopy control has improved remarkably. I am yet to land on the X that marks the spot in the centre of the landing area, but I am sure I will get there soon. All the jumps I have landed within the PLA. All my consolidation jumps I have done so far, I have been able to land on my feet. I have a feeling the more I keep jumping, the more I  will get better at canopy control 😂


7. Do you have any ambitions yet in terms of your skydiving? E.g. freefly, formation skydiving, wingsuiting?
At the moment I am enjoying just jumping out and going with the flow. Perfecting my body position during freefall, doing a few different plane exits and back flips for the fun of it without worrying about being marked. I am enjoying the freedom of skydiving.

I do want to try my hand at a Formation Skydiving course next. I have spoke to a few guys I met during the AFF course and they have started towards their FS1 qualification. It’s something I will definitely want to do in the next few months.


8. When you are not skydiving, what do you do for work?
I am a Diagnostic Radiographer working in the NHS and private hospitals. I specialise in MRI scans mostly. I love and enjoy the job and that is how I met one of the instructors who works at Hibaldstow Skydiving.


9. Do you participate in any other sports or have a history of extreme sports?
I love motor sports. I own an old Yamaha Fazer 600 street bike. I’m not allowed to race motorbikes though, my wife said she would leave me if I start racing so I only take it out to enjoy the scenic Yorkshire Dales!


10. Any funny or surreal stories to tell about your skydiving?
Well, anyone who is going for their first tandem or AFF course, make sure you tie your shoes really tight. On my AFF level 2 jump, I lost one of my shoes as soon as we excited the plane. I felt it come off and I knew what had happened. It’s probably in someone’s garden or field laying around. I just hope it didn’t land on someone’s roof and they thought it was raining sports trainers! So if you live near Hibaldstow and you came across one adidas blue trainer, please return it to the dropzone. I have kept the other shoe and a reminder of what happened during my 2nd jump of my skydiving 😊.


Would You Like to Learn to Skydive?

Many of our customers start with a Tandem Skydive and then choose to do a Level One AFF Course. It’s a great route to becoming a qualified skydiver and you get to join a fantastic community of people who love adventures in the sky at high speed!

You don’t have to do a tandem course to start with, you can in fact, go straight into Accelerated Freefall and do the ground school with our instructors. In fact, many of our instructors started skydiving with us years ago and got the bug.

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