Monday, 11 April 2011

Up, up and away!

Way back in 1987, I found myself out in Belize keeping the Guatemalan hordes at bay (well that was what we were told we were doing).  During my time there I had the opportunity to undergo some sports-parachute training.  I had always wanted to jump out of an aircraft at great height and hurtle towards Earth at a vast rate of knots, before pulling the rip-cord and gently landing safely somewhere near a drinking establishment, where I could celebrate my survival. 

Unfortunately, the course that I attended was the last of several being run out there and when it came to the ‘jump’ day the winds were too strong for the Belizian Defence Force Islander aircraft and ‘jump’ I did not!  The training team duly packed up and returned to the UK leaving several of us with an unfulfilled feeling.

Over the years since then, I have often had a longing to complete that episode of my life and experience what it is like to fall through the air.  However, over the years I have also developed a fear of landing!  I’m not particularly scared of heights and I’m not worried by the falling bit either; it’s what happens when I make contact with the ground speed.  I can stand at the edge of a precipice and look down to the ground below, but the thing that makes my stomach knot and my head spin is the thought of stepping over the edge and then the feeling of whacking into the ground below.  So I have to admit it, I am unlikely to parachute anytime soon........I have too many other things I want to do with my life.

Yesterday, whilst driving along, in the distance I could see a balloon and as I got closer I realised it was on of the ‘Virgin’ balloons with a basket full of punters below.  I stopped and took a few shots with my camera and thought that this was probably a suitable substitute for parachuting - far more relaxing, lasts longer and (with luck) the landing would be softer!

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