Jump Start – the experience of being alive

   As the first rays of light shine over the horizon, Royal NZ Air Force (RNZAF) Base Auckland wakes up with a sleep-eyed yawn to the cough and splutter of an engine. A group of grinning teenagers walk up the runway. These kids are about to experience the feeling of being alive. The ramp of the Air Force C130 Hercules is dotted with brightly coloured jumpsuits and parachute rigs. Huge smiles decorate the austere background of green and grey, and nervous laughter fills the tarmac. Groups pose for photos with the plane towering behind them, wiping sweaty palms and hiding fear behind silly expressions and poking tongues. Two by two the pairs walk up into the plane and seem to disappear into its gaping mouth. The door is shut and ear plugs are squeezed in to deafen the roar of the monster aircraft. The huge metal beast flexes its muscles. Inside a group of teenagers hold on tight and prepare for takeoff. Jump Start is an annual New Zealand charity event that gives 50 youths from CanTeen and Project K the chance to jump out of a C130 HerculesÊat 10,000ft. It began in 2007, when Tim Fastnedge (Director of Plastic Machinery supplier Techspan Group) was President of the New Zealand Parachute Federation. Now once a year the Air Force provides Tim with a C130 Hercules as “jump ship” for the event. The Airforce base at Whenuapai is transformed into a hub of people in bright red t-shirts. Tents, BBQ’s, a loudspeaker, observers, jumpers and RNZAF members are overshadowed by a swarm of teenagers with happy faces watching skydiving footage. The New Zealand skydiving community pulls together to back Jump Start every year, with tandem instructors and cameramen travelling from all over the country to Auckland for the event. The teenagers […]