retirement sories

Retirement Sentiments.

"Let's Go!."

Why do some people do brave and dangerous things, putting themselves and their families through great stress?

For example, why would anybody want to throw themselves from a properly functioning aircraft at 10,000 feet?

Free-fall parachute jumping is a modern adventure sport, which carries real risk of death or serious injury if anything goes wrong.

So why would a normally cautious, somewhat conservative, middle aged business man and family man want to try it?

Let me tell you about the day when I finally did, what I am sometimes told to do - took a jump for myself!

Picture the scene as I arrived at the drop zone, accompanied by my fan club of one - my fourteen year old son, David.

We were met by the Naas Falcon’s Para Team - those daring young men and women with their flying machines. Colourful characters in jump suits and caterpillar boots, their followers in shades and baggy faded Levis.

And me? Just about to turn 50, in my navy M&S track-suit and my brand new Reebok runners!

My adventure began when five of us squeezed into a specially modified little Cessna 185 aircraft, from which the seats had been removed.

The plane looked and sounded like a bit of a banger as it bounced and shimmied down the Punchestown Racecourse.

The flight alone might have made me nervous, but at that moment as I contemplated what was to come- jumping out at 10,000 feet- the inside of that rickety little aircraft felt like the safest place in the world.

When we got to 10,000 feet the pilot cut the engine to reduce the slip-stream and in a most dramatic gesture the door was suddenly flung open. Nothing could have prepared me for that shock - I’d never flown in a plane before when someone opened the door! The noise was deafening, the wind was like a hurricane.

Two experienced sky-divers left the aircraft immediately.

“Let’s go, Greg” was the urgent shout from my instructor.

Too late now to consider if this activity invalidated my insurance policies, or think of Eileen and Deirdre worried at home, or my fourteen year old son, waiting on the ground for his hero’s return! How’s would he get home if...

In fact there was no hint of hesitation. I was totally committed, nervous of course but not at all overwhelmed by fear, satisfied that I had minimised the risk - I was going to do it.

By now I was hanging onto the wing struts to avoid being blown off by the shrieking gale, before I was ready to jump.

I pushed myself off, falling face down with arms and legs extended to prevent spinning and tumbling, which could be scary and dangerous.

Terminal velocity of about 120 miles per hour is reached within 12 seconds of exiting the aircraft, and once that speed is attained you won’t go any faster! That was reassuring! At that speed I was about 70 seconds from the ground and certain death if anything went wrong. Perhaps that’s why they call it terminal velocity!

The air rushing past had a surprisingly solid feel. I felt like I was flying, and in a way I was, except I couldn’t go back up again!

Then after about 30 exhilarating seconds the ripcord was pulled, I felt just a slight tug as the parachute opened and then I was floating, at about 5,000 feet.

The crisis was over. I had time now to enjoy the spectacular view, the beauty and the silence, the indescribable sense of freedom – I was free as a bird!

Too soon almost, it was time to prepare for the final approach and landing. I landed smoothly, close to the designated spot feeling wonderfully alive and alert.

Why do some people do brave and dangerous things putting themselves and their families through great stress?

We strive for safety and predictability in everyday living. We learn the Safe Cross Code, we take out pensions, mortgages and insurance policies, and in the process we may get bored and we die anyway! But we know that life isn’t safe and predictable and part of us doesn’t want us to be!

Deep down inside us we all long for adventure. Something to make our hearts beat faster - to feel alive yet in touch with our mortality.

What I did that day was brave, exciting and yes a bit daft. Passion and logic colliding.

Would I do it again? Definitely not! Would I recommend it to you? No ... but I would say, find your own adventure.

Do something you would love to do, really want to do, but do it soon before it’s too late.

Those of you who have the desire and courage to search for adventure will eventually find it - and when you do, how will you react when someone somewhere someday suddenly flings open a door and says “Let’s go”!

I hope you enjoyed this story. Please share your Retirement Stories and Anecdotes! Everyone loves a great story and a super anecdote or two!

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