The video opens with the helicopter flying over the Burj Al-Arab and you’re waiting to jump out with your bike. How did that come about?
We went to the Burj Al-Arab for the recce and they asked if I wanted to do something up there. I was like, ‘Yeah, I’d love to jump out of a helicopter’, kind of joking and not fully expecting it to be possible. A month later we got an email saying that they were going to get us a helicopter and I was going to jump out of it. I thought, ‘God, what have I got myself into?’.
The whole of last year I was excited, but sweating a bit about it. I’m scared of heights, which isn’t something a lot of people know about me, and because I’d waited all year, I psyched myself up. I had to programme my whole body for it. It’s amazing what the human body can do, because I’m so scared of heights. Before flying out, and even on the plane, I kept saying to myself, ‘I’m doing this. No matter what, I’m definitely doing this’.
What was going through your head when you were practising?
As soon as I got there, and we were up on the helipad, all of a sudden the helipad looked a lot smaller than I remembered. We had a practice day where I was strapped to the side of the helicopter without the bike, and it was terrifying. It just went straight up, and it was wobbly and loud. I was as white as a sheet hanging out of it. It was absolutely terrifying.
Then, we tried it with the bike, because we didn’t have that long to practice. As soon as we took off with the bike, the wind just pushed the bike against my leg, trapping it against the helicopter. I was trying to manoeuvre the bike back around, but because of the wind pushing it, I couldn’t. At that point, it felt like it wasn’t going to work.
We started to practise jumps at around two metres, and then increased the height each time. You’re trusting the pilot to get in the right place, but it’s so wobbly, because the wind coming back up at you is like a hurricane, and my bike just wanted to blow away from me. I was getting a cramp in my arms trying to hold on to my bike, and the first few times I jumped out, the wind forced me sideways, so I learned quickly that I had to face my body and bike the other way to compensate for all the wind.
After a few trial jumps (we maxed out at about 4m and the ramp was 3.5m), I was feeling pretty confident. I had a pretty good sleep that night, and when I woke up the next day, I was stoked to go and do it.
When we got to the site, we were told the helicopter we had the day before had a mechanical failure, and I was like, ‘Why today?’, because I was so ready to do it! Luckily, they had a second helicopter with only one engine, which they said would make it less windy. I thought it would be the exact same, but it wasn’t. My back wheel kept getting snagged, so it was even scarier. It felt like the down-draft was even worse than the day before. I had to keep telling myself that I could do it, so after a few practices I was ready to go.
The scariest part, though, is that after I land the jump from the helicopter, I had to correct myself straight away, because I only had five metres until I had to go through those two bollards and then hit the other nine metre drop. When I landed on the red carpet and rode into the lift all my friends were there, cheering. I couldn’t believe it. I was almost tempted to do it again, but I was satisfied with it, so thought I’d better not.