Fear and adrenalin spreads slowly like hot lava deep inside my chest. My stomach churns with the uncertainty of the unknown. I sit on a rigid floor. Rough, rythemic vibrations driving up through it and into my body. The heat is building up. It’s hard to focus or concentrate. Perspiration is running down the side of my cheek. The straps are pulled tightly around my legs, shoulders and chest.
A helmeted figure indicates for me to get onto my knees. Three men are yelling at each other in some foreign language, possibly of Balkan origin. The door is opened and the wind whips in, an incredulous drop outside is revealed. The figure indicates, forcing me out, I cling desperately to the edge of the door before taking one last breath and stepping out into the abyss. Hands grab me roughly and in less than three seconds I’m flung out.
My mind goes blank for the briefest of moments as I try to quantify what has just happened and then I’m falling, falling, hips arched out as we gain speed, arms and legs splayed out almost gently as if accepting the fate, finality and finiteness of the situation. My mind clears, the tension is gone and a feeling of complete euphoria washes over me as we fall from 3500m in the air. The two figures each side of me hold on tight, keeping me stable as we continue to fall. I run through a series of routines, following a series of instructions from each instructor. The wind presses hard into my face as we “fly” at around 200km/hr backdown towards earth. The view of the Black Sea is absolutely breathtaking, the ground appears almost frozen as we rush towards it.
I take furtive glances of the scenery while keeping a sceptical eye on the altimeter strapped to my wrist, at 1500m I wave my arms to convey my next actions, move my left hand across in line with my right shoulder to keep my body stable while simultaneously reaching back behind me with my right hand to deploy my parachute…. nothing, I find nothing, just my hip and the base of the pack on my back. My heart skips a beat and my right hand starts to search frantically… eventually finding and grabbing hold of the soft leather ball of the deployment chute. I pull it out, throwing it as far out as possible, moments later my feet are swung hard below me as I pendulum at my shoulders while the parachute starts to unfold and deploy.
My leg straps tighten hard and my shoulders are pressed firmly into the back pack as the parachute opens completely and it feels like everything stops, like time frozzen for a moment, no wind, no movement, just the parachute, the view, the clouds, and a beating heart.