This year I was lucky enough to receive the Murray Edwards Gateway Funding and used the funding to complete the AFF Accelerated Freefall Level 1 Skydiving Course. Since completing a charity skydive a few years ago to fundraise for a local hospice, I knew I wished to begin the process of gaining the qualifications to be a solo skydiver. The money I generously received from the funding allowed me to gain the first qualification in the extremely exciting process.
The first step of the qualification to become a licensed skydiver is the AFF Accelerated Freefall Level 1 – a two day course, with rigorous training and technical lessons before the first solo skydive from 9,000 ft at the end of the second day. The course is incredibly specialised and only taught in a few places in the UK. Fortunately, one of the centres was at Hinton-in-the-Hedges, just a short drive from where I live. At the end of the first day I was petrified of the prospect of completing the jump and completely overwhelmed with all the knowledge I’d been told. The thought that was most scary to me was the idea of having to steer myself to safety, the most technical part of the dive and also the one part you cannot really practise.
However, the next day when I jumped out of the plane it was honestly one of the most exhilarating moments of my life. The freefall was completely thrilling, the total sense of being alone and so independent was not like anything I’ve ever experienced before – being so in control and responsible for the dive. Now that I have completed the first step of the qualifications, I am hooked on the experience and the adrenaline rush from it, and cannot wait to complete the rest of the process.
I am incredibly grateful for the generous funding that enabled me to gain the qualification, and the first step in the journey to become a licensed skydiver. I really do think the course has made me a more confident and independent person and I cannot wait to bring this new determination and direction into both my academic career and my life at University as a whole.