Cranleigh CCF enjoyed a special trip to Netheravon Airfield, The home of the Army Parachuting Association.
Both nervous and keen, we began training for our first jump. Seven hours of intensive training, essentially consisting of counting to four – complex for some, it seemed – and the effective responses to emergency situations, soon prepared us for our evening jump as the sun set over Salisbury plain with views of Stone Henge from above.
Two groups of parachutists boarded separate Cessna planes and began the ascent to 3500 feet. During the climb our minds raced with everything that could go wrong, and the protocols that needed to be carried out in order to save our lives.
We positioned ourselves in the opening as best we could and then looked to our instructors for the go ahead. A quick nod signalled it was time to disembark the shaky plane. “1000,2000,3000,4000, check canopy!”. A rapid sigh of relief came across us as our parachutes had opened and we were now gliding 3000 feet above anything in sight.
The controls we had been issued were now working to the full extent of their purpose, and a few slight adjustments set us on our course for the holding area.
Constant checks of our altimetres allowed us to know when we should start making preparations for landing. At 1000 feet, we travelled downwind, and at 400 feet we made two strict 90 degree turns upwind for a soft and controlled landing procedure.
The ground approached quickly and at ten feet we braced for impact. Our five-minute airborne adventure had come to a close.
The following day, we used our experience to better prepare ourselves for a much more skilled parachute jump. All twelve of the participants were very glad to have overcome fear to tackle a daunting extreme sport, and in turn, it looks to be a very promising future for the Cranleigh CCF parachuting Club as we work towards our parachuting licences.
It was a fantastic, life memory trip available through the CCF and I recommend Cadets to take part in these amazing opportunities available to us.