For more than 15 years I regularly jumped from aeroplanes. I was involved in competition overseas and eventually instructed first timers to make that life-changing leap.
I can still remember my first jump as if it were yesterday. The fear before the jump, the tension in the plane and the elation of falling away from the door into 100 mph slipstream and seeing that nylon flower develop above my head. I was truly hooked on the idea of human flight from that moment on.
Calling skydiving Human Flight is a bit of an exaggeration. You don’t really fly, as such, it’s more of a controlled fall. Even once you have deployed your parachute, it’s always descending and no amount of toggle input will get it flying like a true aerofoil wing.
Don’t get me wrong, I had a love affair with skydiving that lasted many years. I lived for the competitions that I took part in and once I became an instructor it gave me the most joy and fulfilment I’ve ever experienced in a sport.
Eventually, due to family commitments, I had to concede that doing such a time-consuming sport wasn’t really going to be compatible with my life. Although, all that time, I always had the desire to return to flying of some sort.
Paragliding was always on my mind and was the obvious choice as a way of enjoying un-powered flight in the mountainous environment near my home.