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 🙂