After months of planning,fundraising and building their nerve,six Mixed Fleet Crew took to theskies on Saturday 23 February totandem skydive for Dreamflight, acharity supported by British Airways.
Dreamflight was started by Patricia Pearce (MBE) 27 years ago to give seriously ill and disabledchildren between the ages of 8 and14 a life-changing holiday toDisneyworld Orlando. Since then, the charity relies on dedicatedvolunteers to raise much neededfunds. It costs £3500 per child togo on the 10 day holiday and there are 192 children so it’s a lot to raise! Every October, Dreamflight charters a British Airways Boeing 747 and the aim is to bring some joy into the lives of children whose conditions have brought them pain, distress and disruption.
There are 20 crew on the trip, whose time is kindly donated by BA and for the first time this year will be a mixture of both Worldwide and Mixed Fleet. The crew spent months gaining sponsorship for this event, asking family, friends and colleagues to support them in something that was a first for all and required a lot of bravery! We all met at the airfield in Hinton on Hedges at 0800. It was bitterly cold, overcast and snowing, but that didn't put off our determined jumpers. After bacon sandwiches and cups of tea the excitement started to build. First up was me, CSM Katherine Elliot then FTCSM Christopher Kelly, crewmember Nigel Partridge and crewmember Leighanne Templman’s dad Mark (as he was jumping for her.) Crewmembers Sarah Cobbing and Carina Heiford were on the second flight. After a brief on how to exit the plane and land safely we were strapped up and off up into the skies above. The professional parachutists that we were attached to shared many airline jokes to distract us from any fear, including the classic, ‘point out the emergency exits to us then!’ After 10 minutes, we reached 12500ft and a traffic light system directed us when to jump...it was getting cold and quiet, until Nigel shouted, ‘Good-luck.’ Chris and I had started to breathe heavier as it went to Amber which meant, don your goggles and move to thedoor. On green, the door opened and before I knew it, I was on my way down, plummeting to earth at 150mph. I honestly can't describe the feeling, other than complete exhilaration, mixed with fear of the unknown and wondering what it will be like inside the clouds below. I also wondered how all my colleagues and fellow fundraisers were doing above me, as I was first so couldn't see them! Despite my fear I felt perfectly safe; the guys taking us down were professionals who supported us with verbal and hand commands on what to do throughout. I could see all the support of family and friends. Below and one by one, we all landed safely, greeted with cheers and support of the crowd, which included Pat Pearce and Jenny Hillam (Dreamflight’s newly appointed fundraising manager who has led the Bedford Fundraising Group for many years.) After we all thawed out and got back to the hanger we presented Pat Pearce with a cheque for a total of £3845 that we, Mixed Fleet, had fundraised. This amount would pay for one child to go on the trip and ice cream for all the 192 children. There are many more events planned in the coming year, such as the Dreamflight summer ball on 29 June at Wentworth golf club and another sky dive on the 24 August. If you are interested in either event or have fundraising ideas of you own, please contact me at Katherine.email@example.com
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