Today is the day of the canopy briefing, and, the weather sucks, its cloudy, its raining and its dark, so upon arrival, looks like the jumping wont be happening. Go through the canopy briefing, its to work on accuracy during landing, and a lot of new information is explained about flight lines, holding patterns and approaches, then, theres a break in the weather, it stops raining, and the clouds are starting to break up. a first lift of experienced jumpers go up with a few tandems, and the upper winds are OK, so we get ready. The plan is to exit at 7,000 feet, open at 3,500, then put into practice the new procedure. But, as time has flown, this will be the last lift of the day, and its racing against the sunset, and aiming for a hole in the clouds, so, we’re going to be jumping from the top 🙂
During the climb to 13,000 feet, it seems VERY cloudy, between 2,000 and 4,000 feet, you couldnt see a thing out of the windows, then, when we popped out of the top of the clouds, sun and blue sky 🙂 watching my altimeter, we climb to 13,500 feet, and level off. The red ‘stand-by’ light comes on, and the door opens, shortly followed by the green ‘GO-GO-GO!!’ light, then, im at the door.
For this exit, for the first time, I dive out, but dive downwards, then roll onto my back and watch the bottom of the plane get smaller, flip back over, then do a couple of backflips, which went a bit sideways. From here, i turned and tracked for 10 seconds, before turning into the sun (also into the wind) before remaining stable, untill i waved off at 4,500′ and pulled at 4,000 feet.
The canopy opens, but the right hand end cells are completley collapsed, i do a full flare, to open them up, but it doesnt work, i do it a second time, theyre still collapsed, i check alti, im a little over 3,000 feet, nothing drastic is happening, and i have time for a few more attempts before needing to think about emergency procedures, i flare a 3rd time, and the end cells inflate, phew 🙂 to my control turns, then turn into the sun, and into the wind, as planned. As id tracked to the right prior to opening, the ‘wind line’ should be on my left, but, as theres cloud below me, im unable to see the landing area. I know the 2 canopies below me are a long way away, as i saw these open while i was in freefall, and at about 2,800 feet, im in the clouds, and still havent seen the landing area. i make a left turn so the wind is now behind me, then turn back into the wind while i can still see the sun, shortly after, i repeat this move, but, can no longer see the sun, but can feel the wind, then i come out of the cloud at about 1,500 feet, with the landing area just behind me, and to my left, EXACTLY where its meant to be, while im facing into the wind 🙂
I repeat the left turn downwind for a bit, then turn back, into wind, and the cross is now only a few hundred yards away, and ive got 900 feet left, so i turn right around, pass the cross, then slowly turn into the wind, ive got about 400 feet left, i know im not going to land ON the cross, but, im going to be close enough to it, within about 100 yards, and now concentrate on my landing. I look up from my landing spot, and see everyone watching me, look back and see what i thought was a huge puddle, so started to break slightly, im very close to the ground, so I now need to hold onto this, untill i flare, which is only a few seconds away, but, drift sideways, pull my full flare, and am on the soaking wet grass, one soggy arse cheek.
Had some names called for the landing, but, also a full debrief, and it seems that one arm is going lower than the other, causing this left turn i nearly always get during landings, so this is something i need to be more aware of
but, all fun 🙂