• Elizabeth McCafferty

"MY PARACHUTE FAILED 13,000FT IN THE AIR"

Updated: Oct 9

“It literally went from the best feeling in the world to feeling like I'm going to die”.

My parachute failed 13,000ft in the air.

Sam Patrick’s story, as told to by Elizabeth McCafferty.





A couple of years ago, a game of poker with some mates took an extreme turn after my pal (who’s a stunt man) managed to convince me to throw myself out of a plane at 13,000 ft. Within a few days I created a go-fund-me page to raise money for motor neuron disease and hastily booked the jump.


I’d raised a lot of money and there was no backing out, it was a nervy drive down to the airfield. I was driving for what felt like forever and just as I thought I was lost, I looked up at the sky and saw a flock of parachuters falling through the air in the distance. I looked at my mate in a kinda pinch-me moment- this was definitely happening.


The training was very thorough. They take you through the dos and the don’ts and the emergency need-to-knows. Everything from when you cross your hands, how to edge out of the plane and how to land. He then went on to explain what to do if EVERYTHING fails and the parachute doesn’t open:


‘You bend down, assume the brace position’, he grabs his knees, making us copy him and continues: ‘and you kiss your ass goodbye’.


Let’s just say the training felt intense.


There were hundreds of jumps that day, with planes going up and down constantly. I really distinctly remember after training, us looking up at some shipping containers and watching a parachute heading towards it fast..too fast. We all gasped as they smacked into the container at full force; the airfield became a mass of paramedics and ambulance lights.


It feels weird to say now but I remember just watching it almost thinking ‘this can’t be real life, did that just happen? What just happened? I was so buzzed off the adrenaline it took to get me to the airfield to do the jump, that I was almost hypnotised into thinking nothing like that would happen to me and I was so in the zone of just ‘doing it’. We were watching this dramatic scene unfold and yet I was still so excited to get up in the plane that it didn’t affect my decision to go. I found out later that the person had shattered their hip.


Skydiving is a weird thing, it kinda goes against all your human instincts (well it does mine!) But when you’re going up in that plane, with your ass backed up against an ex paratrooper you’re about to dive with, with everyone whooping and cheering and high fiving; you forget all your fears. The plane is full of first timers and people who do it all the time. When the doors open the fucking lunatics who do it weekly start jumping out one by one first.


Jumping out and then freefalling was one of the best feelings in the world; It’s terrifying and awesome at the same time. I just remember tumbling and floating on my back reading all the numbers on the bottom of the plane. Not long after, I got the expected tap on the shoulder to cross my arms over my chest to prepare for the parachute to open.


In what felt like a quick escalation from the peaceful freefalling, we were now dangling feet first and manically spinning in circles. It went on for ages and I started feeling sick, really sick. I remember thinking to myself ‘is this guy doing the spinning on purpose? Because if he is, it’s not fun anymore and he really needs to stop’.


He tapped me on the shoulder again, but this time said go into freefall, I couldn’t remember going into freefall twice in training. Blinded by the wind catching my breath and the sickness, I kept feeling him pulling something on his back. The wind was rushing past my face so quickly I lost my ability to breathe normally, it was all such a daze as I switched between sickness to dizziness. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him let go of something, I could barely process it, but it was strings..and a parachute attached.


In my disorientation, I watched as the parachute floated up in the air, us still freefalling, us with no parachute.


I get a third tap on my shoulder to cross my arms. We shoot up as the parachute opens.


“Congratulations you just got two freefalls for the price of one…our parachute failed and we're now going down on the reserve” his voice booms in my ear.


My entire body went limp. All I could think was ‘get me to the ground NOW’. I literally dangled all the way to the floor, unable to control my body. I balanced my limp body with the feeling of worrying I’ll be sick on myself or shit myself (the fear was real). It literally went from the best feeling in the world to feeling like I'm going to die.


When we landed it was full of high fives and smiles and picture taking (my friend missed my landing because she wasn’t looking out for a reserve parachute which was a different colour). Honestly though, I couldn’t drive for about three or four hours afterwards because I felt so shaken up. Apparently for all the thousands of jumps they do a year; this only happens on average three times within the year (I was number one that year). I sat in a pub after just repeatedly debriefing what happened.


I used to say I’d do it again in a heartbeat, but I’m not always too sure. You hear of parachute fail stories but never think it will happen to you. The guy I did the jump with was absolutely awesome though, the fact he trusted his instincts means we’re both here today! My friend who convinced me to do the jump in the first place laughed.. hard. He was proud though, especially as he’d literally taken years to convince me to do it.


I'm a great believer in the universe giving you what you wish for, and I remember thinking to myself, ‘I want this to be awesome’… I guess it kind of was.




















“It literally went from the best feeling in the world to feeling like I'm going to die”.

My parachute failed 13,000ft in the air.

Sam Patrick’s story, as told to by Elizabeth McCafferty.





A couple of years ago, a game of poker with some mates took an extreme turn after my pal (who’s a stunt man) managed to convince me to throw myself out of a plane at 13,000 ft. Within a few days I created a go-fund-me page to raise money for motor neuron disease and hastily booked the jump.


I’d raised a lot of money and there was no backing out, it was a nervy drive down to the airfield. I was driving for what felt like forever and just as I thought I was lost, I looked up at the sky and saw a flock of parachuters falling through the air in the distance. I looked at my mate in a kinda pinch-me moment- this was definitely happening.


The training was very thorough. They take you through the dos and the don’ts and the emergency need-to-knows. Everything from when you cross your hands, how to edge out of the plane and how to land. He then went on to explain what to do if EVERYTHING fails and the parachute doesn’t open:


‘You bend down, assume the brace position’, he grabs his knees, making us copy him and continues: ‘and you kiss your ass goodbye’.


Let’s just say the training felt intense.


There were hundreds of jumps that day, with planes going up and down constantly. I really distinctly remember after training, us looking up at some shipping containers and watching a parachute heading towards it fast..too fast. We all gasped as they smacked into the container at full force; the airfield became a mass of paramedics and ambulance lights.


It feels weird to say now but I remember just watching it almost thinking ‘this can’t be real life, did that just happen? What just happened? I was so buzzed off the adrenaline it took to get me to the airfield to do the jump, that I was almost hypnotised into thinking nothing like that would happen to me and I was so in the zone of just ‘doing it’. We were watching this dramatic scene unfold and yet I was still so excited to get up in the plane that it didn’t affect my decision to go. I found out later that the person had shattered their hip.


Skydiving is a weird thing, it kinda goes against all your human instincts (well it does mine!) But when you’re going up in that plane, with your ass backed up against an ex paratrooper you’re about to dive with, with everyone whooping and cheering and high fiving; you forget all your fears. The plane is full of first timers and people who do it all the time. When the doors open the fucking lunatics who do it weekly start jumping out one by one first.


Jumping out and then freefalling was one of the best feelings in the world; It’s terrifying and awesome at the same time. I just remember tumbling and floating on my back reading all the numbers on the bottom of the plane. Not long after, I got the expected tap on the shoulder to cross my arms over my chest to prepare for the parachute to open.


In what felt like a quick escalation from the peaceful freefalling, we were now dangling feet first and manically spinning in circles. It went on for ages and I started feeling sick, really sick. I remember thinking to myself ‘is this guy doing the spinning on purpose? Because if he is, it’s not fun anymore and he really needs to stop’.


He tapped me on the shoulder again, but this time said go into freefall, I couldn’t remember going into freefall twice in training. Blinded by the wind catching my breath and the sickness, I kept feeling him pulling something on his back. The wind was rushing past my face so quickly I lost my ability to breathe normally, it was all such a daze as I switched between sickness to dizziness. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him let go of something, I could barely process it, but it was strings..and a parachute attached.


In my disorientation, I watched as the parachute floated up in the air, us still freefalling, us with no parachute.


I get a third tap on my shoulder to cross my arms. We shoot up as the parachute opens.


“Congratulations you just got two freefalls for the price of one…our parachute failed and we're now going down on the reserve” his voice booms in my ear.


My entire body went limp. All I could think was ‘get me to the ground NOW’. I literally dangled all the way to the floor, unable to control my body. I balanced my limp body with the feeling of worrying I’ll be sick on myself or shit myself (the fear was real). It literally went from the best feeling in the world to feeling like I'm going to die.


When we landed it was full of high fives and smiles and picture taking (my friend missed my landing because she wasn’t looking out for a reserve parachute which was a different colour). Honestly though, I couldn’t drive for about three or four hours afterwards because I felt so shaken up. Apparently for all the thousands of jumps they do a year; this only happens on average three times within the year (I was number one that year). I sat in a pub after just repeatedly debriefing what happened.


I used to say I’d do it again in a heartbeat, but I’m not always too sure. You hear of parachute fail stories but never think it will happen to you. The guy I did the jump with was absolutely awesome though, the fact he trusted his instincts means we’re both here today! My friend who convinced me to do the jump in the first place laughed.. hard. He was proud though, especially as he’d literally taken years to convince me to do it.


I'm a great believer in the universe giving you what you wish for, and I remember thinking to myself, ‘I want this to be awesome’… I guess it kind of was.
















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