From flappy face to happy face ... the day I conquered my biggest fear

For 48 hours I felt like a dead woman walking.

When bad weather forced my first skydive to be cancelled on Tuesday morning I was beyond relieved.

But for the next two days my plans to leap out of a plane above Coffs Harbour were cancelled and rescheduled over and over again.

It felt like I was given a stay of execution.

I woke up in the middle of the night looking at the clock, going in and out of a dream about falling and, with a lifelong fear of heights, generally losing my mind.

This was extreme sightseeing. There's no other way to describe the feeling, except glorious and free

So when I woke up this morning to dark clouds and rain I celebrated with a breakfast of eggs, toast, coffee, fruit and juice.

Just as I swallowed my last strawberry the clouds parted, the sun began to shine and the birds began to chirp.

I began to slowly die inside.

With the skydive again rescheduled my travel companions and I drove to Skydive Coffs Harbour and I willed the clouds to move. They did - offshore.

Advertisement

Soon after we arrived we were strapped into harnesses and got in the plane to make the agonising 40-minute flight to get to 14,000 feet.

Two humpback whales were swimming in the clear water beneath us and began to look more and more like two goldfish the higher we got.

My boiled egg and toast suddenly threatened to do their own skydive but I kept quiet.

At 11,000 feet I was strapped to our skydive instructor, Julian Brunt, who must have noticed my fidgeting, hand wringing and twitching.

He told me to breathe, relax and have fun.

Soon the plane door was open. My legs were outside and Julian asked me to smile for the camera.

I wanted to cry for the camera but before I could muster the tears I was flipping around in thin air, the ocean and sky interchangeable as I hurtled towards earth.

For a few seconds I felt like I couldn't breathe and I definitely couldn't think.

Upright and freefalling, I suddenly felt incredible and amazed that I, who gets vertigo lying on a couch, was really doing this.

After about a minute of freefalling, Julian opened the parachute and we began to glide.

Below us was a maze of houses, aqua backyard pools and the beach.

This was extreme sightseeing.

There's no other way to describe the feeling, except glorious and free.

Landing on the beach, I wanted to propose to Julian if it were not for his wife standing by and the state's pesky stance against bigamy.

Still twitching with adrenaline and with a huge stupid grin on my face, we drove back to the hangar to look at photos of the skydive.

Apart from a severe and alarming case of "flappy face" - g-forces are not a girl's best friend - the photos will forever be a reminder that when I'm scared I should just leap.

Stephanie Gardiner travelled to Coffs Harbour as a guest of Destination NSW.


Comments