Tuesday, 21 August 2007


I got down to the doctor's surgery this morning to get my "Declaration of Fitness to Parachute" signed. This was necessary because I'm ever so slightly over 40 and the guys organising the jump can't just take my word for it that I don't have any health problems that would compromise safety when jumping out of a plane with only a piece of silk to save me from death. The doctor had a quick look through the form, tested my blood pressure - told me to relax and tested my blood pressure again, checked my weight and height, put me through a couple of balance tests and signed the form. Quick and easy. This means there are now no obstacles standing in my way - I've got the jump fee, raised a reasonable amount of money for the charity, and transportation to and from the airstrip is organised. Not long now!

Saturday, 18 August 2007


Not long to go now. Strangely enough, I'm currently feeling fairly positive about this parachute jump. I just hope I don't have the problems this guy had!

That's the trouble with living in Britain, you just can't rely on the weather. I also thought the jump training looked a bit... basic, shall we say? I suppose I was expecting people jumping off towers and stuff, like in old WW2 paratroop training films.

The amount of sponsorship money I've raised is just nosing up towards £300 now, about 30% of my target, but at least it's an amount worth jumping for. With Gift Aid, you can add nearly a third onto that, and I've still got time to raise some more money for cancer research.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007


I have to admit my morale's been a bit low lately, what with pressures at work (I haven't sold a thing all week) and the fundraising having dried up for several days. But, it only takes a moment for something to turn my mood around sometimes. I went along to my local gun club after work last night (I do a bit of target shooting, although I'll never exactly be Olympic class). The last time I'd been there was the week before last, and I'd left a few home-printed leaflets asking for sponsorship money through my JustGiving page, as well as getting a couple of donations from committeee members - I didn't have any luck with the other members at the time, so I wasn't expecting anything last night. However, while I'm in the range reloading my carbine, one of the members came up to me and said: "Are you still doing that parachute jump?" Me having answered in the affirmative, he immediately offered to sponsor me to the tune of a tenner - very nice of him, especially as we don't even know each other that well. You never know, it just goes to show it pays to keep trying. Then when I logged on to the internet this afternoon (today being my day off from work), I found that there had been two separate donations through JustGiving, one for £25 (thanks Sis) and one for £50 (thanks a lot Shirley), meaning that the amount of sponsorship money I've collected is suddenly edging towards £300 - still a way short of my £1,000 target, but at least it's now a worthwhile amount to be risking my neck for, and the more money I raise the less likely it is that I'll chicken out at the last minute. I don't want to have to pay all that money back!

Meanwhile, my physical and mental training seems to be going a bit more slowly. I seem to be getting flabbier if anything, despite eating tons of diet food, and I still need to get more acclimatised to heights - I did mean to take a trip up Blackpool Tower a couple of weeks ago, but finances prevented me - hopefully next week, after I've been paid.

Meanwhile, anyone who's reading this, any donations would be welcome, even a couple of quid. Please click on the JustGiving widget to the left.

Saturday, 4 August 2007


Only six weeks to go now before my 3,000 foot parachute jump, and I've still got a long way to go with both my fundraising and my psychological preparations. To me 3,000 ft seems high - eight times the height of a Saturn V rocket for instance - but what would it feel like to do a free-fall skydive from 20 miles up? As it happens, someone once did just that.

In the late 50s and early 60s, the US Air Force was involved in a lot of exotic high altitude flight research, partly related to the dawning Space Age. Some of this research involved sending men up to extreme altitudes in balloons to carry out various experiments. One of these pre-astronauts was Colonel Joseph Kittinger. On 16 August 1960, as part of Project Excelsior he was required to jump out of an open balloon gondola at a height of 102,800 ft (31,334 meters) - above most of the sensible atmosphere - free fall for several minutes, then deploy his parachute and land safely in the New Mexico desert. He was so high that the sky above him was black and he needed to wear a pressure suit for the occasion. During the free-fall phase of his descent, he is also believed to be the first - and so far only - man to exceed the speed of sound without being in a vehicle at the time. Certainly he achieved a world altitude parachute jump which still stands today.

Here's a video of his historic jump:

I can't imagine how it must have felt to do that.