As a skydiver, a question I often get asked is, why? Why would you jump out of an aeroplane?
For years I used the standard response, “well, because the door was open”, but it’s such a cop-out answer. The real truth is far deeper and is something I use when I use skydiving as an example in some of my talks.
Why then, do I jump out of aeroplanes?
Most people assume it’s because I’m a reckless adrenaline junkie yahoo, hell-bent on living the Red Bull life, risking my life every single jump. The truth, however, couldn’t be further away. In fact, like most skydivers, I’m incredibly risk adverse. Every choice I make in skydiving is based on the learnings and experiences I’ve had in the last 15 years of skydiving, the education I have and continue to receive from others, and a solid foundation of absolutely not wanting to get hurt. Because if I did get hurt, I couldn’t jump, and that would be catastrophic. I’m a dad, husband and son, I’m very happy with being alive.
I know every millimetre of my equipment and regularly check it. I listen to others and learn from their experiences. I judge every single jump on a risk vs reward basis, and have been known to walk away from the plane if it just didn’t ‘feel right’.
What is it then, about skydiving that makes it so worthwhile?
It must be the adrenaline, surely? Actually, no. Sure, there’s a real buzz the first 50 or so jumps, but after that, everything changes. For me, skydiving offers the ultimate feeling of escapism and there’s nothing that compares.
It’s a horrible thought, but if you leave the aircraft and did absolutely nothing (ignoring the fact we have AADs), there’s only one way it ends. So, while you’re in the air, absolutely nothing else in the world, at all, matters. Whatever you had been thinking on the ground, doesn’t even remotely appear in your mind. Money problems, troubles at work, none of your worries can remotely bother you in the air. For that time between leaving the aircraft and your feet touching back down on the ground, you are truly free.
Your mind, body and soul are in a place very few people in the world will ever experience, and nothing else in the world can offer the same feeling of pure euphoria.
I always jump with other people, be that students, friends, or first-timers strapped to the front of me. I get to share this incredible playground in the sky with people that mean something to me, and no matter how the jump goes, it’s always positive. There’s always something to learn, and I always come down with a huge smile on my face.
There’s an electricity in the air that cannot be described in words. The sky is our home, and it’s where our souls feed on the good stuff. It’s why I love taking people tandem skydiving so much. Sure, most will just see it as a one time tick on a bucket list, but when I get someone that feels it and gets why we go up there, the feeling for me is magical.
Most importantly though to me, is the family. Skydivers are family. We don’t care about each other’s backgrounds. We look out for each other, and it doesn’t matter which DZ I visit in the world, I know I will either meet or make new friends. The sport is an incredible leveller. I know people with millions of pounds in the bank that jump, and I know people that have to make a packet of ramen noodles last 3 days, but we all jump together. Race, religion, gender, age, none of these things matter. All that we care about is that we can hang out and have fun. If you are or have ever been a skydiver and you’re reading this, I consider you family.
Speaking of family, without skydiving, I wouldn’t have met my wife, and we wouldn’t have our amazing daughter.
Do you golf? If you do, have you ever turned up to a course and been able to play a round with Tiger Woods? No? Well in skydiving, the lowest of the experience can easily turn up to a DZ and jump with world champions. It’s no big deal, it’s just what we do in the sport.
We celebrate each other’s successes and learn from our failures. Did someone say beer? We poke fun at each other, but care deeply more than anyone else. We step up when someone needs help, and look out for each other in ways you couldn’t imagine.
So, why do I jump? That’s why.
How about you?