When you think of things that man was not meant to do, hurling yourself out of a flying object from 14,000ft is high on the list. The adrenalin rush of doing something that you know you shouldn’t do is the reason that activities like skydiving and bungy jumping are so popular.

My mind the night before was flicking over the possibilities of what could go wrong… parachute not opening, breaking your legs on landing, hitting a tree, being blown out to sea before being savaged by a pack of hungry sharks…The fact I’m now writing this means you will know that none of this happened, but that didn’t stop me from worrying.

I met the bus around 7am and we soon left Sydney and made our way south. After a nervous morning waiting for the windy weather to clear, we were given the all clear to go up at 1pm.

For something as dangerous as skydiving, the safety briefing is surprisingly short, just a quick 10 minute chat about what to do when you leap out of the plane and hurtle towards the ground at 10,000 odd miles an hour.

It was then time to head to the plane. It had no seatbelts. In fact, there were not really any seats, just a few places to perch until it was time to throw ourselves out. On the plane itself there was a big shutter door that we climbed into. After we started moving down the runway this was loosely shut and we took off. Now I don’t consider myself to have a fear of flying, but this was different, bumpier. Seriously bumpy. More like being on a rollercoaster than a plane.

Once up high, we were warned we were just minutes from jumping, a warning that inflicted some serious nerves in half of the plane’s passengers. I’ll tell people that I was completely calm at this point, but in truth this wasn’t really the case at all.

Once the green light in the plane went on it was time. The roller door slid open, the wind rushed in and the first pair shuffled towards the opening. I could clearly see the girl about to jump muttering profanities as she knelt on the ledge with nothing but 14,000 feet of air between her and the ground. And then they were gone.

Drop Next up it was my turn. We pulled our way to the door, where I was told to sit with my legs dangling out of the plane. And before I knew what was happening, I’d been forced out…

The Fall Guy

The strange thing about the freefall is that at first it really doesn’t feel like you’re falling at first. There is a strong wind in your face as you hurtle towards the ground, and you feel disorientated as you’re tumbling all over the place. It’s only when the instructor gets you in position and you’re falling, face down, that you get the feeling of the ground rushing towards you.

It’s a great mix of being absolutely, bone-numbingly scared and OMG-this-is-incredible excited at the same time. The first thoughts I had were, “oh shit what have I done here!?” Then, after a few seconds, you realise how much fun it is.

Not long after I got a tap on the shoulder, a warning that my chute was about to be opened. As soon as the jerk came, I found myself sitting up, floating gently towards the ground, feeling completely safe. 

It was then that I first had the chance to admire the view. There were beaches as far as I could see and, in the distance, Sydney’s skyscrapers. There were no noises of plane engines or people talking, just the air rushing past. It felt as though I was completely alone and just dangling in the air, well, except for having a burly bloke strapped to my back of course.

After a few minutes of enjoying the sights I was told to take control of the parachute. It was a pretty simple thing to control, there are just two handles above your shoulders which you pull to change your direction. Best of all was pulling really hard on one side, sending us into a stomach-churning spin.

Rush Hour

After a while of steering ourselves about and looking at the other skydivers, my man pointed out our landing site, a cricket oval about 1,000ft below us.

One thing I found odd is that everything seems so slow once the parachute had been deployed, the earth does get closer, but it seems to do so at a leisurely pace. That is until you get to the final stage. At that point it feels as though you’re falling at an incredibly fast rate and you are never going to make the landing.

Thoughts of broken ankles and shattered knees started to flash though my mind. Luckily, as we lined up to land I could see the girl who jumped before me just getting detached and she seemed okay. Fingers crossed that I would be too.

We hit the ground really gently and were soon on our feet. The experience was fantastic. Now, when’s that next plane going up… 

The damage & the details: A tandem skydive with Skydive the Beach Sydney (Freephone: 1300 663 634, www.skydivethebeach.com.au) costs from $265 with a backpacker card.