Jul 27

Jump 72, Swansea

Like most sundays, i turn up at the dropzone late in the afternoon, the main purpose of this jump is to check my canopy opening, after making some changes to the way i have packed the last few times, which was changed when i did a packing refresher after getting my own equipment, so hopefully this wil be a nice uneventfull opening.

All kitted up and ready to go, the Jumpmaster sorts out the exit order, and im going to be first out (yesss), on the climb to altitude, have a chat about starting FS1 coaching (Formation Skydiving, to allow me to jump with groups of people at any time), then, start going through the jump in my head, ill try a flat diving exit straight out of the plane, into a stable position, then a few turns as tight as i can get them, followed by a…… wait, ewwww, thats the best fart ive smelt in a plane since i started skydiving, obviously nobody owned up to it, but christ, it stank, to the point where the door was slightly opened, my foot wedged underneath to suck all the air out of the plane

12,000 feet, crossing over the beach, everyone waiting for the red light to come on the get the door open, still waiting, still waiting, still waiting, this seems to be taking a really long time, its normally about 40 seconds after crossing the beach that the lights come on, but, eventually it comes on, the doors open, the jumpmaster is spotting, im right in the door so also looking out, and, we just dont seem to be moving forward. Look down, check the lights to see if the green ones on, look down, check the light, look down, check the light, this is deffo taking longer than normal. This is when i think to myself that the wind must be quite strong at this height, and we are slowly crawling into it, and thats why its taking so long…..I hatch a last second modification to my jump based on this new information, and what seems like an eternity later, we are directly over the DZ, the green lite comes on, im given the thumbs up, i lean back, then dive forwards.

I dive straight out of the door, but, angle myself towards the back of the plane, and downwards, i look up, between my feet, and see the plane moving away from me, so i pull my hands to my side and start tracking, for the first 10 seconds i concentrate on keeping myself in a straight line towards a point on the horizon, directly away from the rear of the plane, then, i look down at the ground, and, i know i was flying, but, horizontally, i was FLYING. I’d left the runways behind me, and started thinking ‘oh crap, i have to fight into the wind all the way back from this’ to get back to the landing area, so i stopped tracking, and used the remainder of my altitude doing some turns and 360s, before turning to face the wind, waving off at 4,000 feet, and deploying my pilot chute at 3,500 feet

Which opened perfectly 😀 some practice flares, steering control checks, 3,000 feet left, and im into the wind, watching canopies open a very long way from where ive opened, and all turning to use the wind to get them back to the landing area. My rig has handles on the front risers, which ive learned that with a little bit of pressure will get me extra distance whilst flying into the wind, so, for over 1,500 feet of altitude, im hanging on my front risers, which gets me past the landing area so ill be able to use the standard landing pattern instead of coming straight into the wind. at 1000 feet i turn so the wind takes me back past the landing area, turn again at about 600 feet to cross and line myself up, and this is where i realise i should have turned a little sooner. Its no major drama, but, im still being blown away from the landing area as im trying to get in line with it, i turn again at about 250 feet for the final approach. I know im going to land a bit short of the landing area, i keep things straight, and flare for the landing, and sink into grass thats about 4 feet deep. A good standing landing, but after the 80 yard walk through the long grass, theres grass seeds EVERYWHERE!

My daughter was with me today, and after the jump, she commented on how far away i was from everyone else when she first saw me, and how i just looked ‘stuck’ in the sky

An enjoyable jump, that confirmed that i CAN pack a canopy 🙂

Jul 20

Jump 71, Swansea

This jump is to check the opening of my canopy after having it all checked over and professionally packed. Its also a friends 100th jump, and if im allowed to take part, will be wearing a pink bikini as well 😀

Everyone who wants to be on the jump is lined up, then theres 4 of us left who havent yet got our FS1 stickers, and, as theres so many other jumpers, none of us can take part in the jump, but we will be on the same lift to see the goings on on the lift to altitude.

My plan for this jump is to get stable with a forward dive on exit, keeping my legs straighter than i have been, and to practise the slow / fast fall positions, i also get in a little bit of tracking, a few seconds stable on my back, before turning into the wind, and at just under 4,000 feet, wave off and throw my pilot chute. I get to 3 on my count and start being pulled upright, i look up, and the canopy is nearly fully inflated, only one cell on each end left to inflate, i reach up and flare, and its fully open, so it looks like its been my method of packing thats been causing the issues with opening., so thats something i need more practise at.

The canopy ride was uneventfull, lining myself up with the landing area, facing into the wind, turning back on myself, and back into wind, before starting my landing pattern at just under 1000 feet, turning crosswind at 600 feet then turning back into the wind on my final approach at 300 feet, and landing perfectly next to the marker flags.

Then walking back to the packing area with a naked guy trying to wrap himself in a canopy………….

Jul 16

Canopy all checked over

After speaking with the main rigger at the dropzone about the openings on my canopy, its all been checked out, and looks to be ok. I did mention that i think it may be my method of packing, so, i was taken through it all again, and pointed out that when i did some practise packing just before jumping this rig and canopy, that i was told to do things differently to how id learned to do them. The canopy was packed for me this time, so, on the next jump, if it opens without the left side being completley collapsed, then its the way im packing thats causing it, and, ill get straight onto a refresher, with a load of supervised packs ASAP, but, if it still only half opens, then something is possibly not right with the canopy, and itll be time to look out for a replacement one, already.

The next jump will be the decider….

Jul 13

Jump 70, Swansea

Another backwards exit, followed by some 360 turns and a backflip, flip over onto my back, flip back over, a little bit of tracking before pulling at just under 4000 feet. During the end of my safety count, and just as i feel me start to be pulled upright, i look up to see if the canopy is opening fully, but, i start to turn. Im watching a line twist develop, and thinking to myself ‘ah crap’, I then look back up to the canopy, to once again see its only half opened, and now im thinking ‘oh fook’.

I grab the risers and pull like hell, and start kicking. I know i cant pull the toggles to pop the end cells open untill the twist is gone, I also know that in a few short seconds, if this twist is still there and the canopy isnt fully open, im going to start a hard downward spiral that i WONT be able to control. I look down at my cut away handles, again, for the 3rd time in as many jumps thinking im about to be using them, look back up to the canopy as the twist breaks free, and grab the toggles just as i start to turn and get nearly horizontal, again, and i pump them as hard as i can. ‘Floomph!’ Its open, and once again, my heart is beating like hell.

I sit in the holding area before coming in to land, where i then flare, and get stuck in the long grass, my feet stop dead as soon as they hit it, and over i go, no damage done though :).

Everything packed away, and after speaking with the main rigger at the DZ, the canopy is going to get another inspection, and ive asked for the way im packing to be checked, just in case its something that im doing whilst packing thats causing it not to inflate fully on opening, but for the last few jumps, theres been more adrenaline following the openings than there has been during the freefall :p

Jul 13

Jump 69, Swansea. The cloud

The plan for this jump is to exit the plane backwards, and keep stable. Im going to be the first out, so there will also be some tracking going on as well 🙂

Once the plane is at 12,500 feet, the green light is on, im in the door, and i fall away from the plane, in a sitting position for a few seconds, before the wind flips me around all over the place. I get stable, and flip onto my back, before turning back over and doing a 360 turn. Where i notice that below and in front of me, in the position im about to track, is the top of quite a fluffy looking cloud. I track over towards it and stop when im right above it, and enter the top of the cloud at about 6000 feet. At 4000 feet i still havent come out of the bottom of it, i wave off and pull. The canopy opens, once again with closed cells on the left hand side, so i quickly reach up for the toggles and a few flares pop them open. As i let the toggles back up, im thrown into a hard left turn, i pull the right toggle down to cancel it out, then i start turning right, so i let it up slightly, and once again im thrown into a hard left turn.

I look over the entire canopy, nothing is out of shape, I check all the lines, nothing looks wrong or strange, yet the control seems wrong. I visually locate my cut away and reserve handles, check my altimeter, still at just under 3000 feet, and still fighting with the canopy, being thrown hard sideways, and decide that as soon as i come out of the bottom of the cloud, or 2000 feet, If this is still fighting, them im going to be cutting it away, and, im a little scared.

At about 2200 feet, i come out of the bottom of the cloud, and, everything is perfectly normal, im flying straight, turning now feels as it should, and i drive straight towards the landing area, before turning into the wind for a nice uneventfull landing.

On speaking with the chief instructor about it, it was explained to me about the winds within clouds, and why only newbies track towards them, so, this is something i wont be looking to do again in a hurry, ill make sure i stick to the nice big clear gaps instead 🙂

Jul 11

Jump 68, Swansea. 2 way

This is another 2 way jump with jane, and we are going to do the same exit, but, this time im going to position myself differently in freefall to sort out the backsliding issue, that when jumping alone, im completley unaware of. this time, we are first out of the plane. 15,000 feet, in the door, hold on the each others arm grips, shake, leg out in out, and away we go, and, even more surprisingly for us both, this exit was better than the last one, straight into a stable position. we turn a few times, break apart, then link back together, a few more turns, release, and link back together.

We stayed at the same level, within around 1-2 feet but were able to link back up, and, i wasnt sliding backwards, result 😀

At 6,000 feet, we waved each other away, turned and tracked, and again, i pulled at 4,000 feet. When my canopy opened, what looked like the entire left side, was completley collapsed, so i think to myself ‘a few flares and they will pop open’ and as i reach up, im thrown sideways, into a hard turn, and nearly looking at the floor. Instantly, my heart is in my mouth, and my arse is biting my leg straps. Thinking has sped up, time has slowed down, and suddenly everything is like watching a youtube video, its not really happening to me.

I reach up to the toggles, looking at my altimeter at the same time, im at 3,300 feet, 3 of the 7 cells of my canopy are not inflated, im nearly horizontal, im spinning anticlockwise, harder than im used to, and im aware of all of this information, instantly. Is this normal?

I get my hands in the steering toggles, i give them both a good hard pull, i pull them again, and again, and hear what i can only think of as a soft ‘floomph’ sound, then, my whole world calms right down. My heart is playing the bongos on my ribs, my arse is trying to chew the life out of my jump suit, and the little wierd voice that lives in the back of my head is saying ‘But you still dont know if your reserve canopy actually works or not’

The rest of the canopy ride was uneventfull, but, the jump as a whole was great fun, the linked exit was sweet, the freefall was brill, and the first few seconds of the canopy ride were ‘surreal’ but also, i hope, showed me how i may possibly react in an emergency situation, possibly being completley focused on what is happening, instead of freezing and freaking out

But, overall, a nice fun and enjoyable jump 🙂

Jul 11

Jump 67, Swansea. 2 way

After unexpectedly finding myself in a position where im able to jump today, I obviously get my arse rapidly to the dropzone, VERY late in the afternoon (arrive at 17:30) hoping to jump, and, as i walk through the door, am greeted with “hurry up, wheels off in 5 minutes” YESSS!!! 😀

While im getting kitted up, another jumper asks if i want to do a 2 way jump, yeh, of course, why not 🙂 we quickly get a plan together, practice an exit, then are on the plane. We will be second out. Once its our turn in the door, we link up, head shakes, leg out in out, and out the door we go, and, surprisingly for the pair of us, are stable straight away. We do a few 360 turns, still linked, before seperating at about 10,500 feet (this jump was from 15k). This is where things started to not go as good, but, was nothing like any of my other ‘non solo’ jumps. we managed to stay on pretty much the same level, maybe with 2 or 3 feet between us, but, i was sliding backwards, and we failed to link back up.

At 6,000 feet we waved goodbye to each other as we had agreed to split at 5,500, then turned and tracked away from each other, then i pulled at 4,000 feet.

Once again, i was met with end cell closure on the left side of the canopy, a quick double flare and this was fixed. I hold before starting my landing pattern at around 1000 feet, but, as im doing my crosswind section, i notice that Jane who i jumped with, seems to be already on the floor, but, on her side and not getting up.

I abandon my into wind turning, and carry on crosswind to land as close as possible to her in case shes hurt badly (i can only see her laying on her side on the floor and not moving very much) before making a slow turn at around 150 feet (a guess at the exact height) into the wind, and flare and land, and quickly collapse and gather my canopy whilst half running 50 yards to where she has landed. As im running, she gets up, and when i get there, theres also another jumper close by. She had landed a little fast, and was pulled over by the canopy, so me looking from above, what looked like her laying down in pain, was actually her fighting to colapse a canopy and stop it dragging her across the ground.

We has a 200 yard stroll to meet up with everyone else, and talk about my ‘backsliding’ and to plan the next jump, as soon as we are packed 🙂