Calvary resident sets skydiving goal to jump-start his life

Calvary Bayview aged care resident Brian Corbyn was feeling pretty flat. So he jumped out of a plane.

The tandem skydive seems to have been just the ticket for the father and grandfather.

“It was a great feeling, the adrenaline of it all,” Brian said after completing his jump.

“I feel full of life.”

Staff and residents from Calvary Bayview were there to cheer him on when he took to the skies and then floated to earth over the Latrobe Valley on Saturday, and he returned to the home that evening to a guard of honour.

Brian’s story

“I’d been feeling pretty flat and wanted to kick-start my life again,” said Brian, who suffers from bouts of depression and has had poor health over the years.

Turns out the positive impacts of his daredevil decision started well before the jump itself. It gave him a purpose, a goal he could work towards.

“Committing to doing it motivated me to exercise. Before that I couldn’t much be bothered and would put it off to tomorrow. For this I had to be at least half fit and flexible,” said Brian.

Calvary Bayview staff discussed the risks and benefits for Brian participating, but it was important Brian came to his own decision.

“It is very important to us here at Calvary that residents have choice and control of their lives and wishes,” said Home Manager, Ruby Vadhera. “It is wonderful to see our residents achieving things in their lives that are important and meaningful to them, big or small.”

“The fact of setting a goal, working towards it, and then achieving it has been a very positive experience for Brian, mentally and physically.”

With support from Brian’s family, clearance from his doctor and risk assessments done, staff set about organising the jump, as well as physiotherapy to help him get fit for the big day.

“The exercise was mainly stretching, building my strength with light weights and on the exercise bike. I had to get some strength in my arms so I could ‘fly’,” Brian said.

Riding a bike was all new to Brian but he is now riding five kilometres on an exercise bike, three times a week.

“Once I get started, I love it,” said Brian, who is also participating in more activities at the home.

How it happened

The idea first arose when staff at the Calvary Bayview residential aged care home asked members of their men’s group if there was something on their bucket lists they wanted to achieve. Brian put his hand up.

“I used to be adventurous – I worked on oil rigs in the desert out of Alice Springs, on prawn trawlers, and changed railway sleepers across the Nullabour.

“I’ve been up in a Tiger Moth before and that was fun. I’ve always been scared of jumping out though, but then I thought ‘why not’.”

Brian readily admits to a healthy dose of fear on the day.

“When I got strapped up in the gear when we were in the hanger, it got real then.” By the time it was his turn to jump, he was terrified. There was the initial ‘shock’ of free-falling fast toward earth, then being shot upwards again when his parachute opened. By the time he got his breath back he was cruising across the sky. “That was beautiful, it was like you were sightseeing.”

“It’s changed my mindset. I don’t know what comes after this, maybe a train to Darwin …”