13 Oct H. Smith – UK
Doing this sponsored skydive with the extra challenge of doing it NAKED started as a joke. But it was for such a good cause, and I realised that the extra challenge would more than likely increase the amount raised substantially, so I decided to go for it!
My first skydive was a charity tandem at Swansea (UK) on 16 August 2014, when I raised 2,080 GBP (~3,200 USD). Afterwards I found that if I jumped again within 12 months it would be cheaper, so I decided to do another tandem in July 2015. But would it now be ?just another skydive? and so not raise as much this time? Conversations led to 2 suggestions for an additional challenge:
1) No parachute. Despite very generous offers of sponsorship, I declined that one!
2) Naked. Having declined (1), then (2) it was.
I put out some enquiries as to where I might be able to take up this challenge, and Redlands Airport, Swindon (UK) happily agreed.
So, on 11 July 2015 at Swindon I did a naked tandem skydive. The extra challenge of doing it naked had the intended result. There was a fair amount of publicity in the press, printed, and on line (never expected to get so many pages of results when searching ?Howard Smith Naked Skydive?), and even a radio competition to come up with a novel headline for the story! By the day of the skydive I had raised over 5,500 GBP (~8,500 USD). This will go to help with the running costs of a motorbike ambulance service in the Mbale region of Uganda, which is being set up via a charity (PONT) that I volunteer with. Before this there was no ambulance service at all. I just couldn?t leave people to get miles to hospital in an emergency on a bicycle, or be carried by friends (see www.pont-mbale.org.uk).
On the day of the dive the weather was quite warm, though a bit windy, but still OK. I arrived at the airport as was greeted at each stage by the staff with ?ah ? you?re the one doing it naked?. I was on the last drop of the day, so anyone not wanting to witness my skydive could leave if they wanted to. I stripped off to just my shorts and trainers, and they initially fitted the harness over my shorts. I then went to the toilets took of my shorts, refitted the harness, and put my shorts back on over the top (there were still quite a few people around). I went in the plane with one other tandem ? an experienced guy, taking his girlfriend for her first tandem. There was discussion about whether the talk in the pub would now be about her first dive ? or that someone on the same dive had done theirs naked! At 9,000ft my shorts were removed, and the harness was properly set ready for the jump from 10,000ft. The door was opened, and I felt a strong draught of cold air in a very unusual place. The other tandem pair went out first, with their videographer, then my videographer went out to wait for us. We shuffled forward and I dangled my legs, and other bits over the edge. Definitely chilly, but not as bad as I had feared. Then it was head and legs back, and my tandem pushed me out. Amazing and weird feeling. After a while of freefall, we were under canopy and falling gently, looking at the scenery. The view down was distinctly odd ? legs and other bits dangling in the foreground with Swindon town and surrounding countryside in the background. There was a moderate wind and we landed off target, though not too bad ? the far end of the field instead of the near end. I decided to walk back to the buildings as I was, carrying my shorts and helmet in my hand. I arrived back to loud cheers and clapping. An exhilarating experience. Maybe I’ll do it again someday.