Sep 28

Jump 91, solo

After visiting the airport on work related business, i find myself manifested for the last jump of the day (good job i brought my gear along, just in case šŸ˜‰ ) so see this as a good chance to once again practise side sliding, even if i am solo, i can use the ground as a reference to ensure im not turning.

As the jump order is being worked out, a 4 way group is leaving before me, then me, then a few more solo jumpers. I hear the guy who is lined up to jump after me, ask the 4 way if he can jump with them, but, they decline, he then asks the jumpmaster (who is part of the 4 way group) if he can leave after them, and ‘catch them up’ and hes told an outright NO!

We all board the plane, and at 7000 feet, a couple of ‘groundrush’ tandem jumpers exit the plane, giving everyone else a bit more room. During the rest of the climb to jump altitude, i tell the guy exiting behind me, to leave at least 6-7 seconds before exiting, and gesture to the person who will be acting jumpmaster for 6 seconds between us. I repeat this to the other jumper numerous times.

The lights are on, the doors open, and the group leaves, after an 8 second delay, by myself. a good single flip exit, i turn slightly so i can look over my shoulder, so see the next guy exiting the plane, ALREADY?!?!

I look down to the 4 way group, they are miles away, so i turn and do a small track, away from this other jumper, and the 4 way group, and practise my side slide left and right. at 6000 feet, i do a slow 360 turn, trying to see if i can spot the other jumper, hes definitely not above me, i cant see him, the 4 way are starting to deploy below me over to my left, at 3500 i wave off, and deploy my pilot chute.

Im still looking around, and my canopy opens with one side a little more collapsed than normal, i grab my toggles, and as im looking up at the right hand side of my canopy, still in freefall, and about 300 feet from me, the other guy goes screaming past me, HOLY FOOKIN SHIT!!!!!!!!

I look at my alti, im at 3000 feet, he deploys as im looking at my altimeter, and is nearly 1000 feet lower than me, i shout something along the lines of ‘WHAT THE FOOK ARE YOU DOING!!!’ but im assuming it went unheard.

My canopy has started to turn and dive, this guy has made me completley neglect the fact im under a 2/3 inflated canopy, so i pump the toggles, then head to the holding area, before landing, and making my way back to the packing area, where i arrive first.

The other guy turns up, and i ask him if he did any tracking on his jump (thinking he may have been trying to ‘catch’ me like he wanted to with the 4 way), and he says no. I give a few choice words about how close he was to me, but more importantly, about how high i was (or how low i was) when he passed me, still in freefall speed, which another jumper also noticed (who has now arrived as well), as if he had a high speed malfunction, then the 10 seconds that would have been the rest of his life, would have been spent dealing with it. At this point, a 3rd jumper, who was the acting JM appeared, who had a go at the jumper for pushing past him and exiting the plane, and, upon landing, when discussing the jump, he actually told the acting JM that he did in fact do tracking on that jump, which would explain why he was so close to me at deployment time

I try everything possible to be as safe as i can be, but when things like this can happen because of other people, it makes you realise how easily things can go horribly wrong

Sep 21

Jump 90, Sunset solo

After watching the sky since the last jump, im manifested for what i believe will be the last lift. Theres not been any sort of call to get ready for the next lift yet, but i know theres only 40 minutes of left untill the sun is over the horizon, so, i start to get geared up. Some of the students notice this, and ask if theres been a call, i tell them there hasnt, but i want to be geared up ready ‘just in case’.

10 minutes later, theres a call ‘anyone who isnt ready to board in 4 minutes doesnt get on the lift’ and 4 seconds later, im ready for checks šŸ˜€

its going to be a solo jump, but, i want to get this side sliding nailed, and im going to somehow practise it, alone.

We get to 12500 feet, and after a few exit the plane, i leave, with the same dive to the wing exit, and its perfectly stable, like the last 3 times, i think ive now found a new exit instead of the rolling exit.I look down, and im above the northern runway, so, i position myself so im straight along the runway, and try to slide. I have no idea if im moving sideways, im 2.5 miles above something 100 yards wide, but, im not turning. i return to a neutral position, and try to slide the other way, and start to turn (my body seems to have issues with ‘left’) so i correct this, so im straight with the runway again, and continue this untill 6000 feet. at 5000 feet, i turn 90 degrees, and track, untill 400 feet, where i slow down, and deploy at 3500 feet

my canopy slowly opens, and this is where i now notice the sun, peeking out from a very low band of cloud in the distance, and just vanishing into the sea, as a blood red disc, below me, in the distance, shimmering where its edges meet the horizon. Its views like this where i wish i had a camera.

The intensity of the freefall, the transition to the canopy ride, the peacefullness of the canopy ride itself, is all blown away by a simple sunset viewed vanishing into the sea, simple words, and probably a picture, couldnt describe it, and makes me wish i had done a high hop and pop.

An excellent end, to a brilliant days jumping šŸ™‚

Sep 21

Jump 89, FS1 C7

FS1 coached jump number 7, with Ant.

The plan for this jump is turns in place, and side sliding.

We get to 12000 feet, and repeat the last unlinked exit, Ant starts the key, out, in, and out we go, again with me diving towards the wing, before turning and coming down to Ant, stable throughout, and we link up. I then turn 90 degrees, as Ant slides backwards, and i slide to him, where he grips my arm and leg. He lets go, slides backwards, i turn 180 degrees, and slide to him again, and we repeat this. At one point i slide too far too fast, and crash into him, but we recover and carry on, untill breaking away at 5500 feet, and tracking, untill deployment at 3500 feet, followed by another nice slow opening, and ride down to the southern PLA

During the debrief of this jump (at the end of the days jumping) I was told that as i was sliding sideways, i was also back sliding, so thats something for me to be aware of sorting out

Sep 21

Jump 88, FS1 C6

FS1 coached jump number 6, with Ant.

This will be to practise side sliding again, but, this time, Ant is going to stay put untill after i have moved, then he will come to me, we are also going to do an unlinked exit, and, im worried about going unstable during the exit (which is common and why i normally roll out of the door) and what if im then unable to find him in the sky.

We get to altitude, and Ant gets on the outside of the door, we nod, he throws his leg out, in and as he goes out, i also dive out, towards the wing of the plane, the wind catches under my chest, and i stay stable, turn in place, and ant is directly in front and below me šŸ˜€

I drop to his level, and we link up, before letting go, and Ant points left, and, i slide left, where he comes to me, he points right, and, i turn, so i turn back, and try again, then, i slide right, we continue this, with me still turning a little when im not meant to, right down to 5000 feet, where we then turn, and track away from each other, and deploy canopies at just under 3500 feet.

A nice slow opening on the canopy, with me hanging off the rear risers to inflate the end cells, followed by an uneventfull ride down to the southern PLA

Sep 21

Jump 87, FS1 C5

FS1 coached jump number 5, with Ant.

For this jump, we are trying a new exit. Linked by only one arm, me on the inside, but also with me giving the signal for the exit, and, again, this is to practise side sliding.

We get to 12000 feet, Ant gets on the outside of the door this time, we link left arms, i push my right arm out, in and out we go, arch my body hard, we are vertical with me looking straight down at Ant, then we level off, get stable, and release, and stay level. Ant goes sideways, and i try to follow, but I turn, i get straight again, then follow. Ant goes sideways again, and i go sideways, but then turn, and we repeat this a few times, but, im still turning 3/4 of the time at some point during the slide. we turn and track away from each other at 5000 feet, before leveling out at 4000 feet and deploying at 3500 feet

I get the usual end cell closure during opening, i havent mentioned it during the write up of the last few jumps, as i now think of it as normal, but, i have started simply pulling down on the rear risers, instead of fumbling for the toggles in a hurry, to get the end cells inflated, and enjoying an uneventfull canopy ride back down, to get packed up and manifested to do it all over again šŸ™‚

Sep 19

Jump 86, FS, erm, nope

The plan for this jump was an FS coach jump, to once again practise the side sliding, but, during the plane ride on the way up, it could be seen that some nasty looking cloud was on its way in, so, those with enough experience (of which i was included, yay) were given the option, jump at 5000 feet, or go back down with the plane. At first, i thought id go back down with the plane, for the simple reason to keep my jump numbers DOWN, and not get closer to my 100th jump, but, then thought ‘sod it, its a freebie’ so, i dived out of the plane, rolled onto my back, rolled back onto my front, and pulled, and was open by about 3700 feet.

The wind had picked up a little bit, so on my final approach to land, didnt cover as much ground as i thought i would, and landed in the dead center of the runway (cross the runway to land) to i gathered my canopy as fast as i could, and run, as i didnt know if the plane was going to land on the northern runway, that i was on, or the southern one

a fun and unexpected end to the day though šŸ™‚

Sep 19

Jump 85, post tunnel 2 way

After the session at the tunnel, im dying to give this a try in the sky, and, Adam who i went to the tunnel with, is here as well, so we plan on jumping together to see how i get on.

We exit linked, and get stable, but, before getting properly level, i released a little too early, but, we got level easy enough. I slid sideways, then, when i went to go the opposite way, flipped right over. We then spent the next 30 seconds trying to get level again (i knew i should have put a weight belt on), before coming back together at just above 6000 feet.

We turned and tracked away from each other at 5000 feet, and i deployed my canopy at just under 4000 feet, for a nice uneventfull landing šŸ™‚

Sep 16

Tunnel time

After reading a post on facebook, and making some hurried arrangements, im suddenly and unexpectedly on my way to the airkix wind tunnel in basingstoke for some FS training šŸ™‚

The main thing i want to start with is getting my co-ordination worked out for side sliding. We start with the basics, flat and stable, and working on my arch, as im moving my body, im dearching, which in the tunnel causes me to shoot up in the air (which would cause me to fall slower on an actual skydive), and while i can get back down with no problems, its something that i shouldnt really be doing, so a few sessions are used to deal with body positioning, and being aware of changing my shape to deal with whats happening. So as soon as i start to move upwards, to slightly change my body position to stop it from happening, and to start to drop back down.

We go from this to turns using only my elbows, and i find out that i can turn FAST!, really fast, so i need to slow this down a little bit. Im a bit to rigid, which is working against me. IĀ  know theres nothing to worry about, ive not even got to worry about how long the canopy will take to open etc, and none of the canopy stuff entered my mind once, not even for practice pulls, but, now i think about it, more worryingly, not even a single look at my hand for an alti check, which i do every few seconds in freefall. I know i can relax, but, i think that its once again being in the learning environment thats causing me to tense up.

As i enter the tunnel for my 5th session, i begin to turn using my legs, and start to attempt side sliding, and, once again, i completley brain fart, and arms and legs are going everywhere. I go up, i go down, i go round and round, but then, in the last minute, something clicks into place, and, im doing it, and suddenly, im flying in a box shape, sideways left, up, right, down, left, up, down, then the times up, and i fly out of the door, full of smiles, and high fives all round. It wasnt perfect, and it was shakey, but, i managed to do it

After an hour, its back in the tunnel for the next 5 sessions, but, my new found confidence from the last session is blown away by another brain fart, and im back to arms and legs going everywhere. I seem to get it, but, just as quickly as i work it out, im then all over the place again. It takes a few minutes in total, but, im making progress, and, by the last 2 sessions, a definate improvement is visable, even though im still a little shakey, but, slowly getting the hang of it.

on the last session, i was still a long way from perfect, but, im more than happy with the progress i made, especially with the knowledge that the simulated freefall time i have just had would have been around 25 skydives, with a coach, at a cost of over Ā£1000

Now, i just need to work out how im going to get to the wind tunnel again………



Sep 09

A trip to A&E

Following my ‘instant opening’ over the weekend, it looks like i may have given myself more than just a sore neck for an hour. After a very worrying ‘incident’ which brought to light that something may be very wrong internally, i took myself off to hospital. Seeing a doctor is not something i do. I have worked through the winter with pneumonia, untill i have collapsed, starved fevers out of myself, i suffer from recurring scarlet fever, i have wrapped injuries in electrical tape, and generally patch myself up if im able to, so this is a big thing for me to go straight to A&E, my missus thought i was joking.

Anyway, after being seen, then referred to a doctor and a few more examinations, it looks like ive burst a vein internally, and burst one in the back of my leg. Blood tests will be done, but, it appears that im healthy and capable of healing naturally, so, will wait untill friday for a quick checkup and results of the blood tests, but, things dont look as bad as they at first appeared to be, which is why i initially came to A&E.

But, sometimes, its better to be sure.

Sep 07

Jump 84, Swansea. FS1 C4

FS1 coached jump number 4.

Over the last few jumps, ive shown that i can fly forwards, backwards, fall faster downwards, slow my fall rate to travel upwards in releation to another jumper, and during this, keep falling vertically. This jump will be my first go at ‘side sliding’ or, flying my body sideways.

The plan is, exit the plane in the same manner as the last jump, but, keeping eye contact, then once we are level and release, i will turn 90 degrees, and link up, then 180 degrees, and link up, but, if i drift away while turning, then im to fly sideways to where i need to be.. simple, right?

We get to jump altitude, im outside the door, i give a shake, Ant nods,leg thrown out, in and out we go. We turn over but get stable, and release. I turn 90 degrees, and we dock, and release. Ant then slides backwards slightly for me to slide in, and this is where i brain farted. I just couldnt get the co-ordination between arms and legs right to go sideways. At one point i turned 180 degrees so fast that i nearly flipped myself over, but recovered, then, just as i got the hang of sideways, we are out of time, and approaching 5000 feet, so i wave away, turn and track, before levelling out and pulling at 3500 feet.

During the debrief, and watching the video, i could see what i looked like while i was trying to get myself co-ordinated, and it looked like i was doing the 80s robot dance, in freefall, this will need a little bit of practise šŸ™‚