Skydive Vancouver Island photo PQB NEWS reporter Lauren Collins free-falls during her tandem skydive over Vancouver Island with Skydive Vancouver Island owner Gord Gauvin this past Saturday.

Reporter steps out of comfort zone – and airplane

NEWS reporter Lauren Collins jumps 12,500 feet during a skydive over Vancouver Island

I wouldn’t say I’m an outgoing person, or even impulsive, but sometimes I surprise myself.

This past Saturday, I quite literally jumped out of my comfort zone.

After stopping by Skydive Vancouver Island to write an article on the Island Fever Skydive Festival this past weekend, owner Gord Gauvin asked me if I would like to try. Before I knew it, the words were tumbling out of my mouth.

“Sure, why not?”

Fast-forward to a week later and I was back at the hangar with Gauvin getting strapped into the harnesses and going over what I needed to do once we were on the plane — a black Navajo — and once we jumped out.

Hang onto the harnesses. Head back, legs back. Bend backwards like a banana. After five seconds let go and raise your arms up — still bend backwards like a banana, but with “cactus arms.” Those were Gauvin’s words, not mine.

Considering my job requires me to ask questions, I didn’t have many — or any — leading up to the jump. Actually, for once, I didn’t have much to say.

The next few minutes were spent with me stuttering through my pre-jump video and patiently — impatiently? — waiting for my jump. But before I knew it, the group going up, myself included, was walking along the tarmac toward the plane.

Since I jumped the same weekend as the festival, I ended up going up with Gauvin, Kyle Hobbs, who was acting as our photographer/videographer and about seven other professional skydivers.

You would think watching seven other people casually jump out of a plane would calm my ever-rising nerves.

Nope.

After watching them plummet, I was more than ready to back out. But then I thought of all the people who I’d told — and who my mom told — and, well, I have way too much pride to not follow through with something even if it involved me jumping out of a plane from 12,500 feet at speeds of up to 200 km/h (I have a certificate to prove it).

Then it was my turn. Hobbs climbed outside of the plane, while Gauvin and I made our way to the open door.

There I sat, my legs hanging out of the plane while Gauvin counted, rocking us back and forth. One, two… and then we were free falling.

I don’t remember much about those first few seconds and whether or not I actually remembered to follow Gauvin’s instructions.

But after those few seconds? I don’t think I have words to actually describe it.

While everything was rushing past me, it also felt like we were moving in slow motion.

And then Gauvin pulled the parachute, and I got to really take in everything for the first time. After covering this community for the past year, seeing everything from an aerial view was so surreal, yet completely recognizable.

Despite the entire skydive only taking mere minutes, those few minutes will forever be engraved in my mind.

— Lauren Collins is a reporter with the Parksville Qualicum Beach News