Kneeling in the open door of the aircraft, wind and engine roar drowning out all other sensations, I can only tingle with a mixture of terror and anticipation. Below me, clouds swirl like disinfectant in water, and far down I glimpse a ring of prime colours which I take to be some kind of target. Viewed from ten thousand feet, a rainbow is a complete circle. I’m determined to keep my eyes open. Every second is to be relished.
“On the count of three, lean forward, dip your chin to your chest, and roll out, okay?”
We rock forwards, then back.
Forwards again, and my heart has somersaulted. The instructors cheat, in case someone yells ‘no’ at the last second.
Plummeting now at a hundred miles an hour, the noise of a thundering express train fills my head. My mouth is parched: it is gaping open. The cloud vapour dissipates. I am bathed in sunlight. The earth is hurtling upwards. Am I upside down? I can make out the peak of a mountain, directly beneath me!
I pass through layers of red, orange, and violet. I am falling through the rings of the rainbow. This is the most powerful experience ever. I have relinquished every vestige of control. Inside, I am quivering with intense pleasure.
A tap on my shoulder. Way above, I make out three black dots tumbling towards me – my children! I must be crying, but I can’t tell.
A jolt at my back, and I am floating in complete silence. Peace descends; the wings of an angel are flapping above me. I am convinced I will break my legs when we land, but I don’t care.
Spread-eagled on the grass, I scrutinise my children’s faces. Twitching from adrenaline, we scream for joy from the bottom of our lungs.
Each time I look up at the sky, I glow with the same excitement. I know how it feels to be up there, and nothing will ever be the same again.
Skydiving over Cairns, Australia, for my 50th birthday.