She did it! You may remember that we reported a little while ago that Pendle YFC member Hannah Binns was planning a 15,000ft skydive to raise funds for R.A.B.I. After her jump was cancelled twice due to bad weather, Hannah finally took to the skies on Friday 25 March and in the process raised an impressive £551 on her JustGiving page, well above her target of £200.
Hannah chose to support R.A.B.I to raise awareness of the charity after growing up on a farm in Lancashire and witnessing first-hand the challenges farmers face. Here she tells us what it is really like to jump out of a plane at 15,000ft and why next time she’s going to stick to a charity cake bake.
Going to university is all about trying new thing; many people try out new sporting activities like canoeing or finding their voice within Acapella. But nothing could have prepared my parents for what I was getting up to. I had signed up spontaneously one night to do a 15,000ft skydive as part of Leeds RAG (Raising and Giving Society). Whilst I am not the most outgoing of people, I have always wanted to do a skydive at some point in my life, just to tick it off my bucket list, so decided that doing one whilst raising money for a charity of my choice would make it an even more incredible experience. Or that I am simply mad. Who knows.
Being brought up on a working farm in Lancashire, I have witnessed first hand the testing times farmers face, such as the Foot and Mouth epidemic back in 2001 or the recent floodings in 2015. Moreover, as a member of Pendle YFC I am aware of the challenges upcoming farmers are facing, and wanted to do something to raise awareness for the farming industry itself. Therefore, I chose to raise money for the welfare charity R.A.B.I who provide financial aid, relief workers, essential household items, disability equipment and even care homes for U.K (England and Wales) farmers struggling to make ends meet.
Originally I aimed to raise £200 for the charity through plugging a variety of social media pages, such as Instagram, and posting my link with an explanation on Facebook pages of local Young Farmers. My persistence paid over, as I managed to raise £551 – before even jumping out of the plane!
The original jump date was set for 20 February 2016. But the weather was set against us, with gale force winds making it unsafe for the jump to go ahead. Whilst I was a little bit disappointed, I was rather relieved, thinking that maybe I won’t have to jump out of the plane after all. But part of me was determined to carry out the skydive, and despite another cancellation (this time due to cloud!) which was incredibly frustrating as I was already psyched up, I finally got the go ahead on 25 March.
Before I was allowed anywhere near the plane, I had to sit through a 20-minute briefing from one of the experienced skydivers at the centre. After what felt like signing my life away on a sheet which stated my responsibility should the dive go wrong, I was then shown an adrenaline skydive promotional video which illustrated the main points talked about in the meeting alongside upbeat music. I left the briefing super excited, ready to throw myself out of the plane.
But I had to wait. For three entire hours. All there was to do was watch other people moving around and getting ready for their dives, which makes your heart race. You just want to get going. Finally, around 4:20pm I was summoned to the rigging up room, telling my mum “this is it”. Everything occurred so quickly in the room, pulling on overalls (as a farmer I have mastered this art), attaching the head wear, and then greeting my instructor whilst he puts the harness on me which squeezes the life out of me. I couldn’t even remember my instructors name as I was too distracted by all the equipment.
The plane itself was tiny, and I was the first in, meaning I was going to be the last out. There was eight of us crammed into a tiny propeller plane as well as the driver, which actually created a great feeling of togetherness. As the plane climbs, I stare out of the window, thinking surely this is high enough, but then my instructor shouts in my ear “we aren’t even a quarter of a way there yet”. With my instructor already having done 4,200 jumps in his lifetime, I felt rather safe, and his smile gave me confidence that I was going to be fine, destroying any nerves that had been brewing.
“I look at the altometer, we are at 15,000ft and the door opens. Blimey, it is cold! I watch the others vanish into thin air without a care in the world, wondering how they can be so calm. Then it’s my turn. I edge towards the door, and adopt the position. It’s all very intense and the force of the wind pushing up at you is so strong. You can’t hear anything, as it’s literally so loud, yet at the same time utterly peaceful and serene. It sounds so cliché but time simply froze, then without warning, we jumped.
It’s hard to describe what free falling feels like but personally I found it pretty horrendous. I’m completely aware that I am falling towards the ground at a hundred and something miles per hour and the wind is so strong I can barely hold myself in the correct position. I occasionally look down but the cold air hits my goggles causing them to mist up. I’m free falling and blind. Moreover, I feel unattached and something slowly registers that I don’t seem to be breathing. It was at this point I realized what I had let myself in for; and I just wanted it to be over as soon as possible!
Then the parachute opens jolting me back up into the sky. I breathe a sigh of relief. I am going to be fine. But my stomach is in knots and I feel so sick. Especially when the parachute begins swaying and turning sharply. Despite this, the view is amazing: a patchwork of fields underneath my feet. It seems to be taking forever to reach the ground, and I can feel my blood drain from my face. I seem to be missing this adrenaline feeling that everyone apparently gets.
Finally, we approach the landing zone and I get my legs as high as I can for the sitting landing. The cameraman and a spare instructor run towards us in order to make the landing as smooth as possible. Then we hit the floor. I collapse backwards onto my instructor and I can’t quite believe what I have just done. I am in a state of disbelief and shock. My hands are still shaking; I still cannot believe what I have just done. I am congratulated for my dive and given a certificate (and a high five!) and a leaflet providing information about a skydiving course that I would never in a million years consider completing. I am then reunited with my family in the café, who grab me a brew as quick as they can in order to bring me back to life as I just sit there and ponder what I have just done.
I do not regret the skydive however, as I did it for a worthwhile cause and raised an amazing amount of money for the charity which will hopefully improve farming families lives for the better. However, I think the next time I am feeling charitable, I may just hold a bake sale, where my feet can be kept firmly on the ground.
Huge congratulations Hannah. Bake sales are just fine with us next time.
If you’d like to sponsor Hannah for her amazing feat, please visit her JustGiving page.