SEAT Sport UK driver Darren Turner has fulfilled a lifelong ambition, and raised £1,500 for the Help the Heroes charity, by competing his first ever parachute jump.
Fresh from his latest outing in the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship at Silverstone, Turner joined the Red Devils for the jump as he made a tandem leap at South Cerney airfield near Swindon.
Strapped to Lance Corporal Steve Candlish, who joined the Red Devils in 2000 and has made over 1,700 jumps, Turner exited the aeroplane at 13,000 feet and after freefalling for 45 seconds at a speed of 120mph, they pulled the parachute at 5,000 feet to enjoy a gentle five minute ride beneath the canopy, before landing safely.
"Jumping with the Red Devils was a fantastic experience,” Turner said. “Doing a parachute jump has always been on my list of things I want to do, so I'm pleased I've done it and raised some money for a very good cause at the same time.
"I'm used to flying because I have a pilot's licence, so I wasn't nervous about taking off and getting up above the clouds. I was really looking forward to it, but that initial moment when you're sitting on the edge of an open plane door with your legs dangling over was pretty exciting. Lance Corporal Steve Candlish, the guy I was strapped too, is a professional, so it didn't really feel that my life was in somebody else's hands - but having said that, he's the one that's going to push you out of an aeroplane and that seemed like a very important decision was suddenly not in my hands! The first few seconds when you're freefalling is quite scary. I've seen the pictures of myself leaving the 'plane and it's smile-smile-smile-no smile-slight panic-and then back to smiling again!
"The freefall lasted about forty-five seconds and it was great, and then the bit under the parachute lasted five minutes and that was really nice and chilled out. We pulled the 'chute as we came through the clouds and the view was incredible. We made some steep turns and I was surprised how much G we could pull.
"I'd really like to thank all the guys at the Red Devils for making it happen and looking after me so well. It was a brilliant experience and I'm thinking of going up and doing it again."
Help for Heroes has raised nearly £9 million so far towards providing support to armed forces members wounded in service, despite being launched less than twelve months ago.