Altitude is Everything

Or, How Five GTS Adjusters Found Themselves Dangling at 15,000 Feet

skydiving 1

Life throws up many obstacles. A team of “mature” adjusters working in a quiet office location in New Zealand should not be a cause for concern to those they left behind, but, then again, Crawford’s team in NZ is being led by Nigel Moore.

We can only assume that Nigel followed the view that “great leaders possess dazzling social intelligence, a zest for change and a vision” when shortly before Christmas he entertained us in a local restaurant and, after plying us with sufficient food and beverages announced that we were  to partake in a team-building activity.

A skydive.  From 15,000 feet.

The team of Nigel, Stephen Smout, Chester Studzinski, John Basinger and Paul Harbord had an average age of 57 and an average girth that measured slightly more when they agreed to the challenge. Whilst age, and seemingly health, was not a bar to the lunacy of throwing oneself out of a plane, weight was apparently an important factor, and this threw three of the team into a frenzy of dieting and training similar to that endured by Rocky before the big fight with Apollo Creed. After plenty of runs and a diet of low fat / low taste “health” foods the five of us squeezed into a car for the six hour drive to Queenstown, home of the bungee and a mecca for young people who had yet to learn the meaning of fear.

We, on the other hand, were reminded of what fear was by the brochure that offered helpful comments such as “embrace the fear”, “the first skydive is a scary thing” and, our personal favourite, “for some 60 seconds you plummet towards the ground at 200kph”. Words such as “plummet” soon found their way onto a banned list.

They say, “Cometh the day, cometh the man”. Cometh the day in Queenstown, three intrepid souls moved cautiously toward the weighing scales and were mightily relieved to learn that their hard training and sacrifices had been rewarded with a seat on the plane. And it was at that precise moment that the reality of the situation kicked in!

The bus ride to the airfield was somewhat lacking in the “boy banter” that had been a feature of the trip. Once there, we were kitted out in flattering boiler suits and asked to record messages for our families. Any thoughts of Top Gun were soon dispatched as we were introduced to our jumpmasters who looked as if they had just woken up – the pyjamas gave it away – and who went by edgy names such as “the flying Womble”. Enough said.

Fear is in the mind. Before we took off, us logical souls were sure that fear would be in the plane. But we would have been wrong. The jumpmasters were relaxed and professional. As the Womble explained – “if we fall out of the plane too early where’s the problem? We’re going out anyway!”.

Having reached 15,000 feet, the curtain (for a door it was not) opened and one by one the team zipped out of the plane into a perfect blue sky over snow-crested mountains and laser blue water. Terminal velocity of 200 kilometers per hour [124 miles per hour] was reached in 12 seconds.  In 65 seconds of free fall, we covered two miles before the ‘chute opened and we started to float to the ground to heartily embrace our jumpmaster and our colleagues – in that order! Our fears had been overcome, and terra firma was once again beneath our feet.

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The skydiving company claimed the achievement would have a permanent impact on our lives. As team building events go, this might be considered extreme but each of us have conquered some personal doubt and fear and found out a little more about ourselves. In addition, we have all learned one important lesson – be very careful what you agree to do on a night out!

Submitted by the Corporate & Major Incident Team of Global Technical Services UK

1 Comment on Altitude is Everything

  1. This is what happens when GTS CAT adjusters stay in an Ozon challenging area in New Zealand.


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