Sat in the house with my 2 boys, and they say what a nice day it is for a skydive, and obviously i agree, and play the ‘would you like a McDonalds’ card, which works a treat. 5 mins later, and we are all in the car, on our way to McDonalds, via the dropzone, everyones a winner. Get to the dropzone, and am manifested for the next lift, in 15 minutes, damn, this is going well. Get kitted up, get gear checks, and am asked by Kris one of the FS coaches what my plans for the jump are. I reply that im just planning on enjoying the views, and he asks if i mind if he exits a few seconds after me, and swoops down to my level. A jump with an FS coach, without any extra fees, of course i dont mind 🙂 damn, this is going well. A minute later, and another jumper is now going to film it all from above, so the plan now is I’ll exit the plane, followed by a jumper with a camera, followed by the FS coach, also wearing a camera, who will come to me, then we will link up, and then ‘just do some turns and links and whatever’
In the plane, looking at my altimiter, we have passed 15,000 feet (my pro track later showed exit height as 15,300 feet) and when its our turn to leave, the first jumper with the camera climbs out onto the rear step, i wait for him to get ready, i give a nod, then take the pre agreed step towards the door, and dive out, rolled in a ball, before opening up stable, and turning to find him. I see where he is, and look over my shoulder to see if i can see Kris approaching me, as i turn to look over my other shoulder, Adam points and i turn slightly to see Kris drop down just in front and above me. As agreed, i fly over to him, we link up, then break off. From this point, things go up and down on different levels, Kris is giving me instructions, but, some of them ive never seen before, so dont know what they mean, but then i see hes showing me to dip my elbows, which i do, and i drop down and we are level again, just as we approach 6000 feet. Our agreed break off point is 5500 feet, and a few short seconds later, i hear beeping, Kris points away, i turn and track, as i finish my track, i hear my second series of beeps, meaning im now at 4000 feet, check my altimeter, approaching 3500 feet, wave off, and pull.
The canopy opens, and as usual i see the expected end cells closed, i grab the steering toggles, and 2 good hard flares and theyre open. I turn into the wind, and im miles away from everyone else, ive tracked downwind, im dead in line with the landing area, and im almost certain that i wont be following the ‘right hand pattern’ to land, i think this is going to be straight in, from where i am, at 3000 feet. Im trying to work out where im going to land, but, from this height i cannot make out an exact spot. Even though i can perfectly see people and objects on the ground (including my 2 boys jumping up and down and waving like lunatics) i cant pick out a spot where ill be landing, so i pull down on the front risers, to get me a bit further forward, and a little lower without turning and having the wind take me further away. By 1000 feet, it looks like im going to go past the flags and onto the runway, so i put the brakes on for a little bit, and this seems to bring my landing spot closer 🙂 I let off the brakes at around 400 feet, and as im at around 200 feet, theres a little more wind, im giving quite a bit of right toggle to keep straight, and at around 40 or 50 feet, im knocked sideways. I look down, I look up, canopy is still fully inflated, look down again, ready to flare, start to flare, and and now going diagonally to the left, full flare, step onto the ground, then turn to my left, and run (either that, or get dragged over by the canopy) as i collapse the canopy, all within 15M of the marker flags 🙂 Damn that went well
So, i started today thinking i wasnt going to be jumping, and ended up jumping from nearly 15,500 feet, with an FS coach, getting it filmed from 2 different angles, an opening where i didnt think i was going to die and a landing right next to the flags, all topped off with a McDoanlds with the kids (who thinks daddys extra special cos his parachute opened miles away from everyone else and he still landed in the same place) and a beer while updating my blog. Thats how friday afternoons should be 😀