You are going to read a magazine article about one person’s experiences of learning to skydive. Six sentences have been removed from the article. Choose from the sentences A-G the one which fits each gap (37-42). There is one extra sentence which you do not need to use.
The Skydiving Experience
The thrill of skydiving is beyond any possible description. Falling at 120 mph with the wind screaming past your body is an unbelievable experience of total freedom. The sport is not without an element of danger; indeed, it is this fear that makes it so addictive. Yet there are relatively few serious injuries in this activity because of the tight regulations and safety requirements mandated for skydiving and parachuting organisations.
I still recall my first jump from 2,500 feet using what is called a static line. 37 __. The static line system is often used for those new to the sport. It is a means of helping them to deal with the sensation of falling, while ensuring that they will not actually hit anything.
38 __. Still, there seems to be a little slice of missing time from the point where I let go of the aircraft to the parachute canopy actually opening. Pure terror sometimes does that! It was a moment where time ceased to exist, not quite a total blackout but still quite strange. Two days of training on the ground, the ceaseless drill of counting out “one thousand, two thousand, three thousand” and about all I seem to recall when I let go is something like “aaaaahhhhhh”. After a second and many subsequent jumps, this sensation soon faded to a dim recollection as I became accustomed to falling.
The first real free fall commenced at about the fifth jump. This simply involved letting go of the aircraft and immediately deploying the canopy. 39 __. Starting from three seconds (let go and pull the ripcord) to five seconds (let go, count to three then pull the ripcord) increasing to seven seconds and so on. Once I made it to ten seconds and beyond, it became important to use an altimeter.
Free fall became really interesting at the 15-second mark because that is when the real training started. Turning, tumbling and rocketing forward by using different body positions put a completely new challenge before me. I learned it was possible to put my body in a position where forward ground speed was around 80 mph with an increase of downward velocity close to 200 mph – the ears tend to get a little warm! It is also quite important to flare out, slow and adopt a more stable position before deploying the canopy. Doing so at really high velocity really hurts, and I suspect everyone does this at least once. It is quite a lot of stress on your body when pulling up from 120 mph to 10 mph in about two or three seconds. 40 __.
One of my most fearful experiences occurred when I made a complete mess of trying to do a reverse tumble and became wildly unstable. Nothing I did seemed to correct the spinning and rolling, I was still at 5,000 feet and in desperation I deployed the canopy. 41 __. The bag wrapped around one of my legs. Luckily, by this time had enough free fall experience to have the presence of mind to see what was happening and it was not too difficult to reach down and disentangle the risers. I also knew there was plenty of time to correct the problem because I was far higher than the standard 2,500 deployment altitude. It turned out fine in the end.
I would say one of my most memorable free falling experiences was above the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Australia. 42 __. From this altitude, I did some nice slow turns and drank in the scenery of Port Phillip Bay, out to sea, across the length of the peninsula to the city of Melbourne, all in an orange-red glow of the most amazing sunset I can ever remember. It was incredible.
You are going to read some extracts about the fears or challenges that several people have faced. For questions 43-52, choose from the people (A-D). The people may be chosen more than once.
43. did not receive help willingly at first? __
44. did not realise how difficult something would be? __
45. did not feel a need to change? __
46. helped others while being challenged? __
47. can rely on a family member who does not share their phobia? __
48. was afraid of being unsuccessful? __
49. felt a sense of great happiness while taking part in an extreme activity? __
50. initially tried to overcome his/her difficulty alone? __
51. took advantage of an offer which had conditions attached to it? __
52. had the support of a friend? __
Confront your fears and face your challenges
I’m afraid of spiders. You won’t hear me scream, but I will certainly get out of the room until someone else has dealt with it. Once, when I was a teenager, and my parents were both working late, I sat on the front steps of the house for nearly five hours waiting for help. There was a spider on the ceiling in the hallway, you see! I couldn’t get into the house! My father was quite angry with me when he got home; he thought I needed to learn to be more independent. “How will you ever survive if you have to live alone some day?” he asked. Well, I’m sure if I had to I would just deal with it, although it would be a challenge. But I’ve never had to live alone. I had flatmates at university, and now I’m married. Luckily my husband has no problem with spiders, and is tolerant of my phobia!
The most challenging thing I’ve ever done, by far, was trekking in the Himalayas. It was something I’d always dreamed of doing and I was incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to join a trek for charity. I always considered myself fit; I mean, I go to the gym two or three times a week. But as soon as we set out I realised I was quite out of my depth; I’d never even carried a pack before. In retrospect, I can’t imagine what I was thinking. On the first day, we had a six-hour walk and after four hours I was so exhausted I felt that I couldn’t go on. I took off my pack, sat down, and cried. Apparently my reaction was fairly common so our group leader knew just how to deal with it. He calmly explained that we were only two more hours from our first camp, while I’d have to walk for four, alone, to go back! I had no choice. I had to continue. So I did, and when we eventually reached Everest base camp it was the proudest I’ve ever been.
After high school I was accepted into a very good music school, by merit of my audition. I almost declined; I didn’t want to go to university. It was a terribly difficult time because nobody could understand why I would make that decision. I was just so terrified that I would fail. I’m dyslexic, and I knew that even if I were studying music I would have to write essays for so many classes. I’d had some teachers in the past that were convinced that I was just careless, that I was lazy, when in fact I was spending much more time on the assignments than my classmates. In the end I went, but I had a terrible attitude. I missed a lot of classes; I wasn’t even trying. Eventually I found my way to an office that offered support to students with special needs; I think someone told me that I could get a free computer, or something. That turned my life around. To get the computer I had to attend regular meetings with an advisor, which I hated at first, but eventually I learned to recognise my strengths and be realistic about my weaknesses; I realised I could get help when I needed it, and that was OK. That was the hardest thing; but once I’d understood it, there was no stopping me.
My fear of heights was affecting my life because I had difficulty going up and down stairs or over bridges, particularly if I could see down, beneath me. I would just get paralysed. I would feel nauseous, and my feet would feel heavy, as if they were made of lead. I had read that it was possible to get over phobias by exposure, so I put myself into difficult situations on purpose. It was exhausting, but I knew it was important. I noticed slight improvements, but only very slight. It was frustrating. Then I had the idea; I was going to try bungee jumping. I got a trusted friend to go with me; to make sure I didn’t change my mind. He told the people in charge they would have to push me, because I wouldn’t jump. It was all very fast; there was no time to think. The feeling was exhilarating, to be honest. And I’ve had no trouble in my day-to-day life since then. Though, I admit, I have no desire to do it again.