BY JAMES TWOMEY
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No – it’s just Andy the Parachutist from Camberwell.
Anyone who has been in the Camberwell area at sunset recently might have been surprised to see a parachuting photographer plunge from the sky.
One resident did and used local social media to ask her neighbours. And Ruth Treacher and her 13-year-old son, Sam Nicholls, were surprised to get a reply about the mysterious skydiver – who might have come down near Dog Kennel Hill but landed in a fish pond.
Ruth wrote: “Last night at around 8.15, we witnessed someone fall out of the sky attached to a red parachute. It looked like they may have landed somewhere between Dog Kennel Hill and Bellenden Road, but it was hard to tell.
“They were dropping very fast and looked somewhat out of control. “We went out to see if we could find them, but couldn’t find anything. Can anyone explain this bizarre occurrence?”
Ruth received an immediate response from a neighbour who said he knew exactly who it was.
Max Felton replied to Ruth: “That will be my ex-neighbour, Andy. He occasionally parachutes down from various fixed-wing aircrafts with a vintage 35mm camera, landing in his small garden terrace, in order to take panoramic sunset photos in and around South-east London.
“He usually looks slightly out of control but that’s to be expected as he struggles to fully control the toggles whilst wielding the aforementioned equipment. I’ve suggested a helmet cam but he insists on ‘doing it the old-fashioned way’.
“Last night he did indeed experience a significantly rough landing and I’m sure he won’t mind me saying he actually crashed into a small-to-medium sized koi pond, injuring his leg and interrupting prime koi breeding efforts – much to the dismay of our local breeder.
“He also suffered irreversible water damage to his 35mm camera.” Max said the parachuting man, called Andy, wants to remain anonymous – and is embarrassed that anyone saw him.
Max said: “Despite his fiery passion for hurling his frail body out of fast-moving aircraft at 13,000 feet, Andy is actually a particularly quiet and reserved chap who loathes publicity.
He is rather embarrassed he was spotted in the first place. He claims that he tried to purchase a more discreetly-coloured parachute to mask his descents, but simply couldn’t say no to an unusually cheap red canopy on eBay – ‘used once, never opened’.
“I’ve been in contact with Andy, and first of all, I’m pleased to report that the agonising pain arising from his awful compound leg injury has been downgraded from ‘eye-wateringly excruciating’ to a much more palatable ‘degree of remarkable intensity.”
Andy adds that the thrill of the jump and the impact of the adrenaline-laced emergency landing also caused him to black out twice, for considerable periods of time.”
The South London Press managed to track down Andy and find out why he jumps.
Andy the Parachutist said: “First of all I can’t believe how interested people are in what I do!
“I used to jump from static balloons back in the day so I’m no stranger to danger – I’m getting on a bit now so I feel that throwing myself out of planes keeps my brain sharp.
“I used to do it for the thrill alone but now I try to take photos to put on my garage wall, but I’m not very good at it so hopefully I get better with time.
“I’m aware I could get in trouble for doing what I’m doing so I hope you can understand why I want to remain anonymous!
“My wife was upset that I ruined my parachuting gear when I fell in the pond but she is very understanding and kindly dried my socks on the radiator.
“I’m planning the next jump in the next couple of months once my leg heals up sufficiently so hopefully I can relay the photos for all you lovely supportive Londoners.”
It might be time to “ponder” a new hobby, Andy.