I’ve just done my first jump since the accident that nearly killed me just over a year ago. As I was lying in hospital, thinking that I would never skydive again, I wasn’t feeling glad to be alive. Instead, I was wondering how I could possibly live without it.
It all started one evening after another typical nine-to-five day. I was sitting at home thinking, ‘There has to be more to life than this,’ when an ad came on television: ‘Try skydiving,’ it said. The next day, I called my local skydiving centre and booked my first jump.
I spent a day training and then I was ready for my first jump. Or almost. First, I had to sign a document to say that I was taking part in an activity that could end in serious injury. At that moment I realised that I was about to do something voluntarily that could put my life at risk and as I signed I wondered if I was completely mad.
I will never forget my first jump. Five of us walked to the runway and got into a plane barely big enough to hold three people. I was beginning to feel nervous, but the others were chatting and joking so I started to feel more relaxed. It was a beautiful, cloudless day and the sun was just going down. It took us about 20 minutes to reach 4000 metres and then the trainer opened the plane door – the view took my breath away. Suddenly, it was time to jump and as I pushed myself away from the plane, I didn’t know what I was thinking, my mind went blank.
Words cannot describe the rush of adrenalin I experienced while I was free-falling. At 2000 metres I pulled the cord and the parachute opened immediately. Suddenly, everything was silent and peaceful. Twice I shouted, ‘This is absolutely incredible,’ though I knew there was nobody to hear me. It was the most amazing four minutes of my life.
From the first jump, I was hooked. I started spending every free moment I had skydiving. At work, I sat in front of my computer and imagined ways of making more money so that I could jump more often. It became my reason for living and nothing else mattered. I was addicted to skydiving.
Then disaster struck on my 1,040th jump. Another skydiver collided with my parachute at 25 metres. I fell and hit the ground at about 45 km/ph, face down. I broke both legs, my right foot, left elbow, right, arm my nose and my jaw. I lost 4 litres of blood, 19 teeth and 12 kilos of fat. I was lucky to survive.
People who have never experienced skydiving will find it hard to understand that my only motivation to get better was so that I could do it again. All I can say is that for me, skydiving is life and life is skydiving.
- Mike was reading a newspaper one evening when he saw an ad for skydiving.
- He phoned the skydiving centre immediately and booked a jump.
- After a day’s training, he was sure he was doing the right thing.
- His first jump was unforgettable. It was a beautiful morning and he was feeling relaxed.
- After an hour’s flight he jumped out of the plane and his parachute opened immediately.
- After his first jump he didn’t think he would do it again.
- During his free time he thought about skydiving a lot.
- On his 1,040th jump he had an accident when his parachute didn’t open.
- He nearly died and thought that his skydiving days were over.
- The only reason he wanted to get better was so that he could skydive again.