Kaye Thumpston and Rebecca Mawdsley complete Princes Trust Skydive.
Saturday 16th October had finally arrived, the day that Kaye Thumpston and I would complete a 13,500ft skydive in aid of the Prince’s Trust. Following a last minute change of venue, we began our 1 hour 30 mins journey to south of Cirencester. With an arrival time of 7.45am we had an early start but filled with adrenalin and excitement we were keen to get on the road. As the sun came up and the morning mist cleared we arrived at the Duke of Gloucester Barracks in South Cerney, Gloucestershire.
After showing our Photographic ID at the Guardhouse we followed the Drop-Zone Skydive Van to the Parachute Centre at Hanger 1. Mari-Anne greeted us and once we had checked in we were designated to “Drop 7”. “Drop 1” took off at 9am with a 20 minute turnaround, taking into account the refuelling slots, we began the rather long wait.
At 8am, we were given a safety briefing by Paul, the most experienced Skydive Instructor on site with more than 20 years and thousands of skydives under his wing! Paul was keen to keep matters light-hearted and when asked if anyone hadn’t enjoyed the skydive experience, his response was “no - although I can’t speak for the ones I lost”!!
By 11 am were in our Skydive suits and by 11.30am had been kitted up with harness, helmet and goggles – “Drop 7” was next. The next 45 mins literally flew by as we were ushered from kit room to mini-bus, from mini-bus to runway, from runway to plane! Kaye had been teamed up with comical Paul, whilst I had been assigned friendly South African, George.
With 3 tandem teams in the plane, we took off and began the climb. The instructors took the 15 min journey to run through last minute checks and instructions, “head back, legs crossed, back arched”, “arms out when I tap you on the shoulder”…”once the chute opens I will pass you the steering lines”.
All of a sudden we had reached optimum height and the plane door opened, Kaye was first to go… 3,2, gone. Unfortunately, I was unable to hear the high-pitched 40 second scream from Kaye as she plummeted 7000ft in free fall. I was quickly shuffled to the open space 3, 2, 1, ahhhhhhhhh! At 5000ft the chute opens as George and I slow to a calm and peaceful flight. As we approach the clouds, George shouts “shall we run on the clouds”, he steers our descent so that we are flying over the balls of cotton wool, so we start running and laughing at the truly magical sense of freedom – an amazing experience that I will never forget.
Before long we are coming into land, Kaye and Paul are already heading back to Hanger 1, so George and I quickly follow carrying the chute back to base. Kaye is waiting with a big smile and commits to do it again, again, again!
So just one disappointment – it was over too quickly!!
By Rebecca Mawdsley
Kaye and Paul get the kit ready.
Rebecca Mawdsley ready in her jump suit.