Between 1987 and 1999 I was a skydiver. During these years I had so many amazing experiences, it was a golden period in my life.
Even choosing to do my training was exciting, I was working a summer job at Stirling University and had read an article in the readers digest of all things, this, together with having some cash conspired to trigger a rather challenging choice.
I kept the sealed envelope in my pocket for a little while before I put it in the post box, there was a moment of disbelief while I waited to hear it drop out of reach, knowing then that I was committed.
I have always felt myself to be quiet and reserved, yet at the same time I have often found myself enjoying quite intense sometimes risky activities. Maybe this is a counterpoint to my rather interior life, enjoying to feel, be challenged, to learn the skills needed to perform well in unusual 3D environments.
In the last half of my time in the sport I was a cameraman running the operation at Weston on the Green, it was a lot of fun but by far the best summer was that of 1995 when Andy Ford and I had a friendly rivalry making tandem videos.
My sons Robert and Fergus are endlessly beautiful to me, I have never really come to terms with the fact that they are mine in that deep way a child is of you… Its nice to see them grow and change, to become young men.
I gave up skydiving in a sort of casual way at the beginning of the 1999 season, I describe why so as to focus on the boys, but really I missed Fordy and got bored competing to do the most tandem videos. Went one day and then did not return. My life was to become about the boys for a while, a beautiful time now I write this and its gone.
Now the teenage years are upon them I felt it was time to do something for me again. I was still drawn to the clouds and the sense for freedom they gave me. I was conscious too that I was still telling stories about skydiving to anyone who would listen that were now more than 10 years old so there was an ambition to find new stories to tell before I became too boring.
After this day out in 2002 an experience. After the day, as I left, John Barrett said to me that it seemed I had enjoyed it… this little exchange echoed inside me until 2009 when at last the boys were big enough and we had moved house. Now living in East Sussex so I could finally sign up for my training.
These days I can think of little else, there is a sensation when flying a hang glider that is hard to put into words. The sport is not an adrenaline rush at all, far from it, I describe it as a puzzle. If while solving this puzzle, a question of understanding the air and what is is doing and where, if while solving this riddle you get the answer right then you get to continue to fly and simply put if you get it wrong you get to land.
Some of my flights have been satisfying if only for this reason alone and my ambition is to challenge myself by striking out and trying to fly for further and longer. I find when I have a moment to think that I am imaging myself turning in a thermal – I imagine the feel of the air coming in through my fingers… the surges as you ascend the chill bright beauty of the clouds… it is like a dream….. I love it.