Skydiving is man’s revenge on gravity. Some wheelchair skydiving quadriplegics say it is the ultimate rush. With a disability at 220 kph (140 mph) free fall it’s hard to disagree. Once lifted from our wheelchairs onboard the airplane, my tandem disability skydive instructor Sven reassured me, “I 4636 skydive zumps underz my belts.” As he clipped our harness together. “Three minutes!” came a shout from the pilot. All the instructors gave one last gear check.
Wheelchair Skydiving Quadriplegics Harness
The harness is difficult to fit. Being a quadriplegic in a power wheelchair, my arms and legs no longer have their full range of movement. Laying the harness on the floor then placing me on top, and wriggling me into it seemed to work best. With a few yoga like moves and one, “Oooh that’s gotta hurt” we had the sydiving harness on all buckled up and I was back in the wheelchair.
Heavily tape your knees and ankles together. Ask the instructors to wrap their legs around yours before pulling the rip-cord. You do not want your legs flying up knocking the instructor out. Well, at least not until you have landed haha.
The wheelchair skydiving quadriplegics headed out to the airplane on the runway. The airplane doorway was about five foot off the ground. With the assistance of a step ladder, and given the many places to grab a hold of the harness, three strong people got me onboard fairly easily. Anyone can lift a bucket full of water. Not so many can hold one five foot off the ground for a long time. That is something to think about when people have to lift you. Don’t make them have to hold you up to long. It is quite hard to do. After a quick safety drill we taxied on down the runway.
Leaving the wheelchairs far behind approaching 14500 ft. Sven shuffled me over to the open rear airplane door dropping my legs out. Strangely I felt very calm no fear or nerves at all as I sat looking out across the tops of the clouds. To my left I noticed a camera man hanging onto a handle outside the aircraft waiting to drop with us. With one last breath and a kiss goodbye to the camera man out we dropped.
A loud rush of wind smacked me in the face. Most quadriplegics have a diminished lung capacity. The 60 second free fall at 220 kph made it hard to breathe for the wheelchair skydiving quadriplegics. It’s like sticking your head out a car window on a highway only double the speed. Don’t ask me how I know that. As we near some clouds I took a big lung full of one in before punching out the other side. Now fully visible the ground seemed a whole lot closer and we were rushing toward it faster and faster.
With a hard pat on the shoulder Sven warned me the parachute was about to pop open. Bringing us to what seemed like an abrupt stop. All goes quiet and peaceful. I was glad I couldn’t feel the 220 kph harness wedgie. The guys would later confirm my joy walking to the car park cowboy style. Sven had forgotten to wrap my legs and they flung up in front of us but again I didn’t seem to suffer any harm.
For a few minutes we drifted by each other waving until it was our turn to land. Pulling down hard on one toggle we spiraled dropping altitude quickly. The big red X was in sight. We had arranged for carers to be waiting as we came in to land. I needed they could catch the legs of the wheelchair skydiving quadriplegics to avoid dragging them along the ground. It wasn’t needed with the breeze in our face, we had practically come to a complete stop when we touched down.
It was freezing cold on the free fall so rug up. We all gathered around a camp fire afterwards. Ears still popping while quadriplegic Bill in the second group of human missiles descended upon us. Only from an even higher 16500 feet (extra $40.00).
After landing Sven told me, “Zat make 4637 zumps but you da first wheelchair skydiving quadriplegia I ever skydive witt” I said, “Well I’m glad you waited until now to tell me that mate!”
After skydiving life seems boring. We sat staring out the window all week. It takes a while to actually come back to earth. If you’ve ever thought about skydiving, go for it wheelchair thrill-seekers.
Where: We skydive with Ramblers at Toogoolawah QLD. Australia.
Cost: $270 plus $70 for a video of your skydive and/or $45 for stills.
Rating: Start saving. Ramblers website: http://www.ramblers.com.au