facing the fear of falling
Skydiving, jumping out of an airplane. I was super scared to do so. Actually I was scared of height in general. Jumping down three metres into the water used to be a huge challenge for me. Skydiving facing my fear and overcoming it.
Scared of height
One week, before I decided to sign up for the jump, I have been on a cliff, hiking up highly motivated but on my way to the top – the fear came out. I was looking down and the water seemed to be so far away. I could not do it. I was stuck on my way up, scared of climbing up or down. I somehow managed to reach the top of a large stone and unable to move anywhere. Just sitting there full of fear. How to come down? Why did I even climb up in the first place? I felt so stupid in that moment. I knew, jumping down would be the easiest way to get out of the situation. It was not even high, maybe three or four metres. But the fear was sitting in front of my like a tremendous bear.
My friends tried to motivate and engage me and at some point, the other people startet clapping into their hands. They shouted “jump! jump! jump!”. Oh my gosh. No pressure. But at some point, I jumped. Once in the water, the fear was gone and I was proud.
So, yeah. I decided to jump out of an airplane to overcome my fear of height once and forever. I was at the perfect place. Mission Beach, Queensland, Australia, jumping out of an airplane and landing safe on the beach.
Starting the mission
I used Couchsurfing in Mission Beach and stayed with Luke. We went to one of the bars the first evening. Mission Beach is known for skydiving and full of backpackers. The guests were chatting about the jump they did that day and Luke invited me to one of his friends – a professional skydiver. “You can jump with me”, he said. “It is my job”. And I agreed, not thinking about the fear I felt on the cliff just a few days ago.
Next morning, I went to the skydive office and signed up. When they offered me an insurance for 30 bucks in case of death (to send my body back home to Germany) I refused immediately. I would not jump if I considered the option to die. Without insurance, I had to wait for the next day. At 2pm I would finally face my fear and go skydiving.
The day of the jump
The night before the jump was not very good, but I still woke up early, tried to pass time and keep myself occupied. We had to take a bus out of Mission beach to a tiny airport. The drive was not long, but it felt like forever. I got a bit nervous when I noticed the rain starting to fall down and clouds coming up in the sky. Secretly, I hoped to avoid the jump last minute. But nope, “all good, we can jump”.
Flying into the air
We jumped out of the airplane from 15000 ft !!! Skydiving! Oh my gosh. I did not know that we would get that high! My fear of height came out. I was scared. When Alex told me that we are half way there I could not believe it because everything looked tiny already. At some point, I could not see the ground anymore, all I could see was clouds. What have I done?
Alex tied me up and I asked him a dozens of times if he had closed and tightened everything. “Hannah, you need to trust me now”, he finally said. And I did.
When the door of the airplane opened, I watched the other guys jumping out of the plane quickly like potato sacks. I felt my fear slowly coming up again. Watching the other skydivers jumping out of the airplane and feeling the air coming inside did not help to relax at all.
Jumping into the clouds
Alex pushed me to the door and while he was getting ready for the jump, my feet dangled in the air, under me a white cloud cover and behind that nothing but air for 15.000 ft. I could not see the ground, everything looked white and green like a painting. I doubt I had to wait long before we finally jumped out, but it felt like forever.
When we finally jumped, it was not jumping at all. It was just letting go of the airplane. Not holding on to anymore. The air took us and spun us around in circles. I was so surprised by the strength of the air and my smile turned into a huge grimace.
But still held the straps tight, just in case of emergency..
Fly baby, fly
The free fall lasted for around one minute. Being surrounded by air was such a new feeling for me that I barely noticed how fast we fell down to earth. The air was super loud in my ears, I hardly heard my own scream. The wind was so strong that I could not close my mouth anymore or answer to the high five Alex tried to do with me. He did make some signs with his arms and I tried to remember the instructions he gave me earlier in the plane. But my head was pretty much empty.
Opening the parachute
Alex counted to three, gave me a hand sign. I still had forgotten what the sign meant. I was super surprised when the parachute opened. From one second to the other, the straps of the parachute pulled us back and stopped us from falling. I felt the straps on my shoulders and the parachute was slowing us down rapidly.
Once the parachute was open, everything became silent and slow. I observed the ocean, the beach, the river and the forrest, thrilled by what just happened. And there was no fear anymore in my body. I made it. I was allowed to take off the glasses and just enjoyed this special moment.
The glide lasted around three to four minutes until we landed on the beach. Jumping out of an airplane with a tandem partner is an unforgettable experience and I still remember the feeling and everything that happened during these five minutes.
Will skydiving cure my fear of height?
Once you jumped out of an airplane and skydived safe to the ground, you will not be scared of height anymore. Jumping down of 4 metres will be nothing but a joke for you afterwards. I went on a boat cruise a few days later and jumped down from the deck without thinking about it. I started bouldering and climb up wherever I want to nowadays no matter the height. Skydiving will cure your fear of height but you need to challenge yourself time by time and confront yourself with the fear otherwise it might come back.