There was thick fog this morning by the time I hit the road and a heavy pall hung over the airfield when we arrived. There were queues at the registration desk, a mix up over the fees Nick had paid for both jumps… one a birthday gift to his brother… so that money raised through sponsorship could go directly to the Make a Wish Foundation. The airfield hadn’t been notified of Nick’s physical challenges and were said that they didn’t do jumps for people in wheelchairs… it wasn’t looking good.
On the other hand, the staff and instructors were incredible. The fees were sorted through a phone call. The instructor the size of a giant brought in to assess Nick’s abilities was perfectly satisfied he was capable of meeting the safety requirements and, eventually, slowly, the fog began to disperse. There was a briefing and training session… then all we had to do was wait.
The boys were on the fourth flight… so had plenty of time to watch as the first group dropped from the sky… Dots appeared, tiny black specks against the clouds…2 and a half miles high. The initial speed of up to 200 miles an hour is slowed to a ‘mere’ 130 by a tiny chute that acts as an air anchor…. Then for around 45 seconds they are in freefall, hurtling towards the earth, yet, or so they told me afterwards, feeling motionless. Then the chutes open for the last part of the flight before landing.
When they were called to the plane I ran the gamut of emotion…excitement for them, pride in what they were doing and why, and a deep gratitude that they could. Nick, after all, should not be able to even consider doing this… and on his own two feet too. Even the landing. I knew I shouldn’t have worn mascara.
Take a look at their videos when I get them uploaded… a cameraman jumped with each of them so I even get to share a little of that too. On Alex’s jump you will simply see a joy so contagious I’m willing to bet you can’t help smiling… as well as moments that had us howling with laughter. On Nick’s face there is relaxed wonder. In some ways my sons are very different, but in others they are very much the same. I am always proud of them both, but today was something special.
It just goes to show that ‘impossible’ things can happen, and do.
I want to thank everyone who supported my sons, and particularly the staff at Hinton Skydiving who were just wonderful. The in flight pictures were taken by the photographers.Nick’s words on landing said it all.
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