I grew up at the back of Doncaster Airport which was home to the Doncaster Parachute club, which over the past 25 years has evolved in to what we now know as Skydive Hibaldstow. My school was right next to the parachute club too so from a young age I was memorized by all things skydiving. I can remember getting told off many time whilst in class staring out wishing I was in that plane rather than sat learning algebra.
Aged 12 I decided to actually go and “hang around” the club at the weekend to get more of a feel for this crazy sport. Now what was very obvious immediately was the warmth, friendliness and good fun nature of all the people there. Before I knew it I was helping collect gear from static line students and laying it out for Kim Newton to pack, helping Jean in the cafe and “hanging out” with the cool kids such as Scott Wileman, Tim Atty and Jim Critchley. I think Scott was about 18 at the time and between him and Kim, they got me absolutely hooked on both the lifestyle and the actual skydiving itself. That said at 12 I had a long wait before I could jump in the U.K.
Aged 14 the worst possible news arrived DONCASTER PARACHUTE CLUB WAS LEAVING!! The council decided a far better use for the land would be a lake?
When I was 15, my Mum and Dad let me do a tandem jump at Royan, south of France. I can remember the feeling now as if it
was yesterday. The slight fear on the journey up, looking into the other folks eyes as they jumped out and then it was my turn!! My stomach was left behind in the Platius Porter and caught up with me a few seconds later. What, for a second, was fear
soon turned into the most exhilarating experience of my life.
With total calm and soaking up each milli-second I flew through the air. The canopy opened to reveal a new type of calm under the canvas. The view and the feeling of been so alive was incredible. I could hardly speak when I landed but I knew tat I had just done something both incredible and life changing.
So why didn’t I carry on at 16 in the U.K. Well GCSE’s got in the way, then a-levels, then going out, then cars, university, kids, wife, house….. life!!!
I then got into racing drones, fixed wing ones, and took these all over basically flying them like the wingsuit guys down glaciers and cliffs. A pretty geeky yet awesome hobby that immerses you in flight via video goggles. However with every flight, I knew that it would be so much better to see the view first hand….
With life finally calming down and actually being able to afford it, plus some pressure from Kris Cavil, I finally bit the bullet and started my AFF course.
So much has changed since the days of round static line, but AFF is pretty much still the same and I could remember the very basics. What hasn’t changed is the passion of which the instructors have for the sport. You know you are going to be doing something amazing when the people teaching you are so hyped about it.
The AFF L1 was incredible. It was like an awakening and something I had been missing for so many years had just clicked back in to place.
Now the skydiving is one small part of the whole picture of this sport. The most enjoyable part besides throwing myself out of an aircraft has to be the great friends I’ve already made on this journey. The community, the smiles, the help and the good fun of being part of the bigger pictures makes this something to special to explain. I feel I’m not doing this on my own but am surrounded by great people who are on the same journey and connected together in the sky as one.
One of my main aims was to take up sky surfing in memory of my good friend Scott (Wileman) who sadly took his own life a good few years ago. A shiver went down my spine and nearly brought a tear to my eye when Noel (Skydive Hibaldstow’s rigger) said he still had one of his boards in the rigging room. It was a special thing to see that again.
Even after people saying I’ll probably end up dead trying skysurfing and there’s no people to coach anymore, it is still a dream to fly a board and even more so if I can fly Scott’s!! Maybe, just maybe in a few years and lots of training, I’ll get there.