St Mildred’s Church is undergoing a huge transformation to make the historical building into a more multipurpose space for the whole Tenterden community. Among the many people fundraising for this endeavour is Eleanor Bliss, who on August 5th leapt out of a plane (parachute attached) for the project.
CommunityAd caught up with Eleanor to learn more.
Why did you decide on a parachute jump?
At a committee meeting in January, I found myself saying I would do a sponsored tandem parachute jump from Headcorn Aerodrome. I watched the parachutists leaping out of the planes above our house in Smarden and thought, “That looks easy!”
I duly set about advertising my jump, and watched in amazement as the money started to pour in. By the time of the jump, I had raised over £4000 from friends, family and supporters. No turning back, then.
Were you very nervous?
I had a few anxious moments a fortnight before the day – worrying about becoming detached from the leader with his parachute; worrying about not being brave enough to actually leave the plane; worrying about breaking bones on landing – normal stuff like that!
What was the actual jump like?
The day of the jump was amazing. A crowd of supporters came to the aerodrome to encourage me. I was introduced to Simon (my parachute leader) and Chelsea (who was to take a video of the event). Dressed in a very fetching jumpsuit and strapped tightly into a harness, I waddled over to the bus which drove us out to the plane. First challenge – climbing up the ladder into the plane and crawling along the floor to be strapped onto Simon! The plane climbed to 12,000 feet (2 miles!). The door in the side of the plane opened, and other parachutists began to tumble out – and then it was my turn!
It was not a pleasant feeling, sitting in the doorway of the plane, with my feet dangling. Then we both leant forward and we were out – falling to the ground at 126 mph. We did the classic free fall pose with hands and feet raised. Then the parachute opened – the noise of rushing air stopped, and we were floating gently downwards. The ground was getting closer, and we were suddenly gliding onto the grass – with me elegantly finishing up in a heap on top of Simon, laughing with relief – I had done it!
Back at the hangar, friends and family applauded and congratulated me. I just wanted a cup of tea.