After yesterdays coached jump, i need more. We go over my debrief again, and its suggested that i try arching from my thighs, instead of from my chest, so, as no coach is available, i get manifested for a solo jump to try this out.
The landing area is the southern PLA, which ive only landed on twice before, nearly 30 jumps ago, so i get a quick rebrief on landing there. Im the only fun jumper on the plane, so ill be first out, so, once we get to full altitude, i roll out of the door, and once i open stable, do a good 20 second track away from the back of the plane, man i love this tracking 😀
I level off, and use my thighs to change my body position, and i can instantly feel the difference, i feel more ‘tipped forward’ and central. i use my elbows and knees to fast and slow fall, before turning into the wind at 6000 feet. As i will be landing on the southern PLA, im planning on opening a little higher, just to allow me to get my bearings, so at 450 feet i wave off, at 4000 feet i throw my pilot chute, and BANG!!!!!! my canopy is open, my arm hasnt even returned to a stable position and ive not even got to ‘one’ on my safety count. Im aware that ive been thrown sideways, i look up, and can see line twists DEVELOPING, im turning, and making them worse 😮 !!! Theres at least 2 full twists already, the first thing i think of is ‘this is going to be cut away, as the end cells are closed and in a few seconds, itll start turning and diving’. I look down to my cut away handles, i look up to the canopy to see how bad the ends are collapsed, and, holy crap, its fully inflated. I relax a little, as its now ‘only’ severe line twists that i have to deal with. I grab the risers, and pull, and kick my legs, and pull some more, and kick some more, untill in the end, everything is normal, and i head to the holding area.
This is where i realise that im now facing a landing pattern that ive NEVER come across before. there are 2 seperate areas to land, within the landing area,theres the area for the tandems and instructors etc, and the area for everyone else, and normally they are seperated by ‘the flags’ . today, they are seperated by the flags, but, because of the wind direction, instead of them being side by side, they are ‘in line’ so, it looks like i have to fly OVER the tandem landing area, to get to where i need to land, on my final approach, oh crap!
Ive never done anything like this before, ive never had anything like this explained as a possibility, and, im completely alone, 2,500 feet up in the air, thinking im going to take out a tandem canopy as i try to land. I circle around untill about 1000 feet, which is the normal height to start the landing pattern, but, i see that im still too high, so i do another circle, and another one, untill im coming in to my final approach at 300 feet, and i can see that im going to run out of landing area, and, on the other side of that fence, is the road. i hang on the brakes, and hang on, and hang on, and hang on, untill i must be about 50 feet up, then let them off, before coming in and flaring, in next to no wind, and landing with a sigh.
It was during the walk back to the packing area that i realised just how much my lower back and neck were actually hurting from what had happened a few minutes before….