May 30

Jump 57, Swansea

Its friday, the suns out, and i have the afternoon to myself, it can only mean one thing, a lift to 15,000 feet, and make my own way back 🙂

Landing on the southern, smaller landing area, and with very little wind, i choose to take myself off the manifest for the first load, just to see the direction etc they come in to land, as ive only landed there twice before, and that was 6 weeks ago, and with very little wind, i have a habit of overshooting my target landing area, so, while the first load are on their way up, i get a little bit of advise for where i should be and at roughly what height in the landing pattern, then i grab a 230 rig and get kitted up.

In the plane, im the only ‘fun’ jumper, along with 3 tandems and a tandem camera, this means theres loads of legroom (nice) but also means ill be first out, this also means ill be able to get a good bit of tracking in away from the plane after jumping 😀

As the plane levels out at just above 15,000 feet, and the red ‘get ready’ light comes on, i start to feel really light headed, i look around me, and notice that everyones lips (that i can see) are lighter than normal. Realising its the mixture of adrenaline and low oxygen at this altitude, I ignore it, as i know within 30 seconds ill be on my way back to normal oxygen levels, the light goes green, thumbs up are given, and i launch myself out of the door, half rolling and half diving, before opening up stable, and turning away from the back of the plane, and start tracking. After about 10 seconds, i change the track into the ‘superman pose’ for a few seconds, before back to a stable position, while laughing to myself (im easily entertained :p )

I check my altimeter, still at 11,000 feet, so i flip over onto my back, get stable, then, for the first time ever, get myself into a sitting position, and manage to hold it for a few seconds, before wobbling and falling sideways. recover to stable, check alti, do a few 360 turns, then turn into the little wind thats there at 5000 feet, before waving off and pulling my canopy at 4,000 feet.

Just like the last few times ive jumped this canopy, it opened with the left 2 cells collapsed, a few full flares and theyre open, i quickly got my bearings and headed to the holding area. Wasted some time with turns and practice flares for 2000 feet, before starting my approach, at 1000 feet. It was during this time that i realised that while i started where i had discussed with another jumper, that the canopies smaller than the one im jumping actually lose altitude faster, so at the point that i should be at around 700 feet, im still at about 850, but, im now committed to this landing pattern. I put the brakes on for as long as im able to, before turning to be cross wind, by now i should be at around 300-400 feet, but im still at just over 500 feet. Still on brakes, and approaching my final turn, im still at nearly 300 feet. Still on brakes, i pass about 100 feet over the top of my intended landing area, and let the brakes off ready to flare. I land about 100M past my intended landing area, but still well within the landing area, so its all good 🙂

May 06

My own rig

If you’ve been following my blog, especially the ‘Costs’ page, you’ll have seen that i have said that a complete rig costs thousands of pounds, even second hand, which they do. I have a few different websites, and some of them have a small advert, like the ones you see above, except, i get a fraction of a penny for each time that the advert is viewed, as i allow Google to place adverts on there (on this site i dont make any money from the adverts at all, they are adverts that i have coded into the blog myself) and over the last 6 months, all of those fractions of a penny have been slowly growing into full pennies, which have been combining, and growing into pounds, which have been very slowly grouping together and turning into £20s, and then…. well, you get the idea.

So when i saw what seemed a ‘too good to be true’ complete rig come up for sale on a ‘skydivers equipment for sale’ page on facebook, i very quickly took advise, and, unfortunately, it was gear that was so old, hence the price, that i was told not to bother, but, luckily, i took advise first before making a costly mistake. So when a partial rig popped up on the same pages, which again looked ‘too good to be true’ i quickly managed to get some good advise, only this time, it seemed that I really was onto a good deal. Facebook messages were sent, loads of facebook messages, text messages were sent, pictures were sent, then, money was sent, shortly followed by equipment being sent.

That equipment being, a Vector V3 M-series container, with the added extras, an RSL (an important extra safety feature that will automatically deploy a reserve parachute when cutting away the main parachute), built in hook knife (another safety feature, in case you need to cut a tangled line), freefly mod, ensures no loose bridle (the link between the small pilot chute and the main canopy) can be exposed, soft reserve handle pad (instead of a metal ring) and extra length (as im over 6′), as well as a reserve canopy.

The ‘new’ value of this, from the manufacturers websites, is over $3,300 (nearly £2,000 GBP Sterling at the time of posting), and at second hand UK prices, 2 seperate riggers have valued the reserve canopy on its own at around £450, so, going my roughly the same figures, that second hand is worth around 60% of the new value, that makes the container and extras worth around £700 (this may be massively wrong, im only using the same logic as the pricing for the reserve canopy) meaning that second hand, this is around £1,150 worth of equipment, that i managed to bag for the bargain sum of………

£500, including delivery 🙂 When it was all inspected, i had a few comments about what a great price i had paid, especially as it also included a reserve canopy

All I need now to make it a complete jumpable rig, is a main canopy, which im looking to put a 210 into it (a parachute with a surface area of 210 square feet) and an AAD (Automatic Activation Device, this will open my reserve parachute if i fail to do anything while skydiving), but, more about these soon 😉

As soon as i have my own full rig, my cost per jump will drop by around 35%, as kit hire and packers fees no longer need to be paid, meaning nearly twice as many jumps for only a little bit more, instead of £38 a jump, another £8 will get 2 jumps 😀


May 06

Jump 56, Swansea

Once again im on the last lift of the day, it looks like my 230 curse is broken, and im set to be the first out 🙂 at 12,500 feet, i get more practise at ‘spotting’ where you have to confirm that you are directly over the intended exit point. So, im watching the ground moving along under the plane, seeing the exit point approaching, watching, watching, watching, look up and give a thumbs up, i get the thumbs up back, and i roll out of the door 🙂

I get stable, then do a quick backflip, followed by another, as i was the first out, i turn away from the plane, and do a good hard 10 second bit of tracking, before leveling out, checking alti, and a quick 360. try another backflip, but got flipped sideways, coming to 6,000 feet, so a few 360 turns, before facing into the little wind that there is, and deploying at 3,500 feet.

The canopy opens, and again the 2 left end cells are collapsed, but, the toggles release fine, and a few pulls and theyre inflated, and im doing some quite hard pull 360 turns, first left, then right, then left again, before a few practice flares, before setting myself up ready for my landing approach. I make my final turn a little earlier than on the last jump, line myself up right between the flags, and land slightly to the left of them 🙂

Thats 5 jumps on a 230 ive now got, another 5-7 ish and ill be allowed to jump a 210, more about that coming soon 😉

May 03

Jump 55, Swansea

After watching the clouds get thinner and thinner all morning, I take a drive down to the dropzone, get my name on the board, with ‘230’ next to it, as another 8-10 jumps on a 230 and ill be able to jump a 210 (more about that coming soon). Normally, im jinxed with jumping a 230, ive been ready to get checked out, then a jump limit has been put in place, ive been on the plane, at 12,500 feet, and told i have to go back down with the plane due to changed wind conditions during the climb. So far the only ‘uneventfull in a negative way’ jump ive had on a 230 was my 50th jump, so hopefully, that jump broke the spell.

Im kitted up, and on the plane, theres a 2-way jumping out before me, and im 2nd out, theyre gone, im in the door, given the thumbs up, and i roll out of the door 🙂 get stable, then do a few 360s seeing if i can spot the pair who left before me, cant see them, do a few backflips, still at 7,000 feet, another backflip, then some slow 360s again looking for the pair. As my ear starts to bleep at 5,000 feet, i see a canopy open in front of me (below me) and to the left, i wave off at 4,000 feet and pull my pilot chute at 3,500 feet.

The canopy opens, and i can see that the 2 left end cells are completley collapsed, i grap the toggles, pull them down, and only the right toggle releases, and im starting to spin. I grab the left toggle, and miss, i pinch it between my fingers, it still wont budge, and im still turning. Check my alti, 2,900 feet, i pull the right toggle down slightly, this straightens me out, but, im pointing the wrong way, but as im now flying straight, this now slows things down and gives me a little time to either sort out the collapsed cells and free the toggle, or to make the decision to cut the main canopy away, and go for the reserve parachute.

I look up to the stuck toggle, and i notice that the brake lines are red, compared to the other lines which are all white, the 240 i normally jump has all white lines, so i grab the brake line above the ring where it seems to be stuck, and pull it down just like with the control flares, and this inflates the end cells, i then use this line above the ring to turn me into the wind. In my mind, im now back in full control, even if the toggle remains stuck. I keep the right toggle pulled slightly to keep me going straight, and again grab the left toggle, and this time, theres no resistance, it comes out of its holder perfectly. (on talking with an instructor after the days jumping, its something he has come across before, thats quite hard to replicate on the ground, and ‘one of those things’, but apparently i did well to use the logic of pulling on the brake lines to open the collapsed end cells and turn back into the wind etc)

On my landing approach, just like yesterday theres very little wind, so i give myself some extra distance before my final turn, but, i gave myself a little too much distance, and landed about 100 yards short of the blue flags, but a good flare coming in to land, and stepped onto the ground nicely 🙂

May 02

Jump 54, Swansea

As its friday, this is a jump from 15,000 feet :). After a few hours waiting for the cloud to break, at around 17:30 the first lift goes up, then im manifested for the second, which is also the last. Ive asked to jump a 230 canopy ready to downsize to a 210 (more about that to follow in another post) but as there are students also on the jump im on the 240, which im happy enough with, as i still get to jump :).

For this exit, normally i do a few rolls out of the door, but this time im going to try a single roll and open, hopefully, straight into a stable position. im given the thumbs up, i roll out of the door, one full turn, open, and am stable, flip over onto my back to see the plane, and wills head poking out of the door, before flipping back over belly down. I do a few 360s, a few backflips, then stretch one arm right out in front of me, and bring the other down by my side, YEAH!!! SUPERMAN!!! 😀 lol, get back to flat position, another backflip, a few more 360s, before pulling at 3,500 feet

Under the canopy, theres very little wind, so i take my approach from 1,000 feet pretty wide, with a huge flat turn, and im lined up with my landing area at 400 feet, but, im so used to there being a little more wind than there is today, that i know im going to overshoot. i sit with the brakes on half way for 300 feet, where im right above where id wanted to land, i let the brakes off for my landing, and flare and land about 150 yards past my intended landing spot, but still well within the landing area

While walking back to the packing area, one of the spectators was pointing me out to a little girl, and saying ‘that man just came out of the sky’ and she said to her mum ‘is he real?’ lol