Thousands go skydiving over Vale of Belvoir in record month
A record number of skydivers have taken the plunge in the skies above the Vale of Belvoir during April as adrenaline junkies and fundraisers have sought to make the most of Covid restrictions being eased.
Skydive Langar, which specilaises in training first-timers and beginners in how to jump from a plane safely, says it has had just under 6,000 skydives at its Langar Airfield base since being able to reopen on March 29.
The coronavirus pandemic had a marked impact on the organisation’s finances but it says investments made in its infrastructure and practices have now reaped rewards, with more jumps being made there in April than at any other skydive centre in the UK.
Operations manager, Josh Carratt, who is also a skydiving instructor, said: “It’s fantastic to see so many people coming to celebrate the end of lockdown by jumping out of an aircraft at 14,000 feet.
“We expected to see our regular jumpers back in full force and hoped that new jumpers would come along too.
“To see so many tandem skydivers and student skydivers is a real pleasure for us and we’re thoroughly enjoying seeing their faces and their responses when they make their first jump and take the ultimate leap into post-lockdown life.”
During April at Skydive Langar, here have been 209 tandem skydivers, 268 student skydivers learning to jump by themselves and 5,519 sport jumpers, doing it for the thrill.
The centre has also hosted five skydiving teams throughout the month to enable them to train for upcoming events.
Mr Carratt added: “Throughout the Covid-19 lockdowns, we’ve had to assess how our business has been affected but we have always maintained a confidence that operations would pick back up once ‘normality’ returned.
“This means we’ve been keen to keep investing in things like our buildings, our cafe, our wider facilities and our team.
“We’ve also invested significantly in Covid-19 safety measures and will commence daily testing of our staff at the beginning of May.”
Laura Hampton is part of skydiving team Chimera, who train at Skydive Langar and who are currently preparing for the World Championships at which they will represent Team GB.
Speaking of their return to jumping, she said: “It’s been amazing to get back in the sky and we’re so grateful to the team at Langar who’ve made it possible.
“The past year has been tough for us as a team as we haven’t been able to train, beyond working on our individual fitness and watching videos.
“With various events coming up later in the year, it’s fantastic for us to have a world class skydiving centre right on our doorsteps where we can train and also fun jump.”
Alex Rastin, a local solicitor who started skydiving in 2020 as part of a charity fundraising event, commented: “I got the bug for skydiving after I did a charity tandem at Skydive Langar to raise awareness and funds for the Pulmonary Fibrosis Trust back in September 2019.
“I have to admit, the tandem was on my bucket list but the thought of doing it terrified me.
“At that time, I wanted to get the thing over and done with, raise loads of money for a charity very close to my heart, and get on with the rest of my life.
“Little did I know that I would become completely obsessed with the mental challenge and thrill that skydiving was going to bring into my life.”
She added: “After my tandem, I spent a few months debating whether to sign up for the AFF training course.
“The fear before the jump was real and it was exhausting but the feeling I had after the jump was not going to be ignored and I couldn’t let it go.
“One thing I have learned about this sport - and fear in general - is that the more you think and procrastinate the less likely you are to do what excites you and makes you feel alive.
“At the beginning, skydiving felt like a very small part of my life so the lockdown did not seem so bad.
“Nevertheless, as soon as it reopened, I was there jumping as much as I could.
“Before I knew it, I was spending my days looking at weather apps and planning my life around jumpable days.”
Skydive Langar is doing daily Covid-19 tests on its staff and is welcoming skydivers, both old and new, to try it out - go to www.skydivelangar.co.uk for details.