Well, the jump day was fast approaching and it had got to Friday the 13th of May, the jump day being the Saturday the 14th of May. All the Team members were psyched up and ready, everything was going to plan and all the team were set to meet at the hotels as planned on the Friday afternoon.
I am not superstitious or should I say I didn’t used to be until at 11 am on Friday the 13th I received a phone call from my son who was the tandem instructor who would be assisting us. The Sky diving for the Friday had been cancelled due to high winds and low cloud and there was at this point only a 50/50 chance of the team being able to jump the next day. The Skydive St George drop zone at Durham Tees valley Airport would monitor the weather forecast for us and would get back to us at 1.30 pm to give us a decision as to whether we would be jumping or not. I have to say after all the planning which had been done the only thing we could not foresee was the weather on the day and must admit my heart did sink a bit.
I did manage to contact all the participants and told them to hang fire from setting off to Durham until I got more information, but 1.30 passed and still no call, and then at 2.45 the call to say the jump would take place the next day but at what time we didn’t know, we would have to be on standby at the Drop Zone from 08.30 on the Saturday morning.
The Team Geronimo along with a host of loyal family and friends headed up to Durham where we managed to get to our hotels and premier inns.
Those staying at the Spa Hotel which is approximately 500yds from the drop zone all met up in the bar/dining room where an excellent meal was had by all but I can’t remember seeing much alcohol being consumed for some reason.
07.30 am Saturday morning in the Hotel and it was a light breakfast and you could have heard a pin drop as I think reality had started to kick in about what was now maybe inevitable and they were going to be dropping out of the aeroplane.
8.30 am and the team were all assembled in the reception area of the drop zone giving the information required to the very friendly staff there. From there they were taken to a quiet area where an intense safety lecture was given to them on what they could and could not do when the time come to do the drop.
The wait then began all eyes on the wind sock on the runway. The high winds were still a problem and it may be lunch time before the wind dropped enough for the plane to take off and land safely.
All of a sudden at around 11am all hands on deck as the first of our team Mrs Julie Ward was told to get kitted up in her jump suit, her time had come and she would be securely strapped to my son Jim Coupe.
Due to the location of the drop zone we were able to see the parachutes come down but not able to witness the landing.
As the plane took off we all waved and then we had to wait another 20 minutes for the plane to get to the altitude which it could safely drop the people on board off.
Due to the wind and the cloud the plane had to look for breaks in the wind speed and cloud. All eyes were to the sky and ears listening for the drone of the plane which resembled a ford Transit with wings. Then we could hear the engine noise change as the pilot prepared to drop his very nervous passengers. A few seconds later the parachutes could be seen floating down twisting and turning until unfortunately disappearing behind the airport building to their landing zone.
A nervous few minutes past as the mini bus was sent out to collect our team member.
On her return all we had from her was how good it had been and yes she would do it again.
Over the next three hours we managed to get the rest of our team kitted up and out of the plane. All I can say is the looks on the Team faces when they came back was worth all the planning and do you know the best part…….this Team Geronimo have raised over £15,000 doing this for the East Lancashire Masonic Charities..
We would like to thank everyone and all the Lodges for their sponsorship and donations and the tandem instructor Jim Coupe for giving his donation of time to us because we could not have done it without him could we?