Bryan's SkyDive for GWAAC

“It was two days after my seventy-eighth birthday,” said Bryan, “and a bright June Sunday morning, when we trekked up the M4 to Wanborough Farm Airfield near Swindon.  We arrived early . . . I suppose I was over-keen.

“We met up with Simon Williams and his wife Jo.  Simon had booked to do the jump too and, like me, in aid of Great Western Air Ambulance.

“Although supporting a common cause, however, our reasons were somewhat different.  For me, it was something I had always wanted to do.  For Simon, it was a way of saying thank you to GWAAC for attending his young son, Taran, when he was involved in a road traffic accident.

“Simon and Jo recounted their difficult story. Despite sustaining a fractured skull, Taran has made a full recovery and now doing what other three -year -old s do, but had it not been for the prompt attendance and actions of the GWAAC Team, things may well have been different.

(Read Taran’s story at https://www.greatwesternairambulance.com/2015/10/we-truly-thank-the-team-for-everything-they-have-done-for-us/ )

“Others began to arrive and we signed in.  Being the first there, Simon and I didn’t want to hang about.  We wanted to get it done and dusted.

“Next was the briefing.  The instructors were excellent and explained everything that would happen and everything we were expected to do.  We were told that we would forget 90% of what they told us but not to worry as they would go over it again and again.  I had to admire their professionalism.  I soon realised I was not as supple as I was in my youth when practicing some of the actions on the floor.

“Overalls were next and visually estimating someone’s size can be a challenge in itself . . . . there’s not a lot movement in zips!  Anyway, the third set of overalls, bright red, made me feel like a true Red Devil.  I would certainly be noticed!  I guess my days with the amateur drama group “The Court Players” and wearing a silly hat helped me to get into character.  Skydiving would be no different and I soon felt at home.  I was then secured into my harness.

“The instructor (my tandem partner) and I walked to the aircraft.  Once on board, the engine started and we commenced our take -off roll down the grassy runway strip.  We were airborne!  During the climb there were more briefings . . . . yes, we had forgotten most of it!  Checks and more checks of the harness; retightening of the straps.  Fifteen minutes later we were at our jumping altitude.  It was supposed to be 10 ,000ft, but it was probably nearer 15 ,000.  The count -down began. 

“We moved into position along the seat.  More briefings.  The first person jumped . . . . he was the pathfinder and camera man.  We moved along the seat.  Simon was next.  Off he went.  I moved up.  I wouldn’t say I was nervous; probably more apprehensive.  I was sitting in the doorway of a perfectly serviceable plane with my legs dangling out.  Then it was our turn . . . . head-first.

“The freefall lasted for about 30 seconds until the jerk of the parachute being deployed was felt.  A tap on the shoulder by the instructor meant I had to put my arms in one position.  A second tap meant putting them in another position.  The view of the Wiltshire countryside was absolutely stunning.  We could pick out various landmarks including the Princess Margaret Hospital, (hoping that we wouldn’t need it), as well as our landing site and friends on the ground.  After a few turns we gently floated to the ground.

“It all seemed so simple.  Simon agreed that he had the easier challenge compared to his wife’s Jo endeavours in the Battle of Lansdown a couple of months earlier.  She hasn’t even felt like doing a run since!”

“That was the end of my little adventure.  I haven’t stopped talking about it since.  Did I enjoy it?  Yes.  Would I do it again?  Absolutely!”