Because in real life im a bit of a geeky nerd who loves gadgets and anything with blue LEDs on it, when I saw a brand new PC interface for the Pro Track altimeter i managed to get at a bargain price, i had to buy it. Also, as the corner of the screen on the Pro Track is cracked, this would also allow me to see my speeds during skydiving. So, another ukskydiver forum bargain has seen me get an £80 bit of kit, for 25% of the price. Gets home from work, to see the postie has left a package, rip it open, and its the new toy, plug it in, install the software (which also had a new license key) and start setting up my ‘logbook’. I then connect it to the Pro Track and start to import the information stored on it. While browsing through this information, I see that on my last jump, 2.2 seconds before deploying my canopy, i had actually increased my speed from 122mph, to over 165mph 😮 and the sudden increase happened at around 5,000 feet, just where my altimeter seemed to stick. I dont know if this was caused by a difference in air pressure, its something i’ll be asking about, but, impressed with the amount of information that this little tiny box captures during each jump, and, it stores it all as well 🙂
Todays the last day Skydive Swansea is open untill Feb 1st, and im working, and the weathers brill, but, im also working in swansea 🙂 this can only mean one thing, and, between jobs, i ‘pop’ to the airport, and manage to get a cheeky jump in 😀
Its a little bit on the windy side, but i have my landing planned out in my head, get geared up, and we’re on the plane. I’ll be the 3rd one out of the plane, this means im sat right near the door, and as the plane is full, i have the luxury of a few inches extra legroom. Its a nice clear, but cold, day, and the plan for this jump is to see if i can get from being on my back, to a sitting position, and see what happens when i try.
We get to jumping altitude, and then im out, dive out rolled in a ball, open up on my back, and something is hitting me in the side of the neck, i put my hand to me neck, and this turns me over onto my front, i let go of my neck, ive forgotten to do the zip all the way up on my jumpsuit, and the metal tag on the top of the zip is slapping me in the side of the neck. Im 2 miles high, theres a whole chunk of the beautifull welsh gower racing towards me at 120mph, and theres one thing going through my mind, Scotty Milne, my AFF instructor, telling me in spain ‘make sure everything is done up tight, anything loose slapping you in the neck will leave a bruise like a lovebite, and you try explaining that to your missus when you tell her youve only been skydiving’
Would a normal person be thinking things like that, right now? Would a normal person throw themselfs out of a plan, for fun? So, i continue my skydive, and change my plan slightly. Im now falling with my right hand holding the side of my neck, and my left hand in front of me keeping me stable. I practised this in the wind tunnel, ‘You never know when you may need to turn with only one hand’ and in the tunnel, id managed to get it, so now, im practising doing 360 turns, staying flat and stable, using only one hand. Keeping my eye on my altimeter, as i always do, i notice that it seems to ‘stop’ at just above 5,000 feet, so i tap it against my helmet, where it drops to just under 4,000 feet, i wave off, and pull at ~ 3,500 feet.
The canopy opens fast, it wasnt hard, like some of the fast openings ive experienced, which seem to push you down into the leg straps, but it was open and fully inflated a lot faster than usual. I turn into the wind, and have a look around at the other canopies, and see 2 opening above and behind me, and think theyre quite far out, and will be flying into the wind all the way back. I get myself lined up for my landing approach, but, mess up my cross wind part of it, which put me a bit further away from the landing area then id have liked to be. This was my first attempt at a ‘pre declared landing’ which means i have an area about 30M squared to land in, and i missed by about 20M, but, this is still a MASSIVE improvement on where i was happy to land within 300 yards of the landing area 🙂
On landing, my flare was good, another standing up landing, before gathering up my canopy, and then heading back to work, with a bruise free neck :p
After a few more up and down jump limits, im on the last lift of the day, im jumping the 230 canopy this time, and planning on being on my back, then trying different things with my arms just to see what happens, when im asked ‘have you jumped with anybody else?’ i answer no, ive always jumped alone, so im now going to be jumping with someone else 😀
We go through a few things, about how i would stay level, or move up or down to get level, turning around and staying level, and how we will hold on to each other to exit the plane, and how at 7000 feet, ill be grabbed, spun round, and thrown across the sky, just for LOL’s, i feel all nervous and excited now, like when i did my AFF levels all over again 🙂
In the plane on the way up, its quite cloudy, but, there are plenty of gaps straight through to the ground. Im right by the door, so i think about asking to do my ‘Spotting’, but, the next time the plane banks, and i see the holes are getting smaller, i decide not to. We nearly get to altitude, and while talking about the exit, change it to ‘ill grab your chest strap and just drag you out of the door’ , this is going to be awesome 😀 and its going to be caught on camera.
The ‘Get ready’ light goes on, and theres a discussion between the jumpmaster doing the spotting, and the main boss. A 100 jump limit is put in place, 10 seconds before im due to jump out of the door 😥
Others leave the plane, and 4 of us take a ride back down, quickly, the plane goes nearly into a nosedive, not as fun as jumping out of the plane, but still quite a fun experience, we are watching our altimeters as we head towards the ground, commenting on how fast we are losing height, the plane then slows and levels slightly, i think this was so our automatic reserve parachutes didnt get set off. We are just under 1000 feet, and its cloudy outside, and raining, we are all watching our altimeters, when we hear and electronic voice, “PULL UP! PULL UP!” then we land, one jumpers electronic altimeter somehow registers as -200 feet.
Its now raining, and we get back in at the same time as those who jumped, and theyre SOAKED to the skin.
So, while some of us didnt actually get to jump, it looks like we were saved from that, and were the only ones in dry clothes
After a while of jump limits being in place due to wind and clouds, im up again 🙂 the plan for this one is to practice turns while on my back, so, dive out of the plane and get onto my back, then do a 360 left, and another to the right, while staying stable on my back 🙂 do a few more turns, before flipping back over and opening at 3,500 feet. The canopy took a VERY long time to open fully, so long that i noticed another canopy opening, fully, not too far from me, and we are at pretty much the same height, eventually though, its fully inflated, so i grab a rear riser, and turn away from the direction of the other canopy, thats my 3rd one of those ticked off the paperwork, as ive turned, the winds now behind me, and im racing along quite quickly, so i get to the end of the runway to ensure im far enough away from the other canopy, as we will be landing at pretty much the same time, and i then turn back into wind. Im constantly aware of the other canopy as a little bit of cloud comes towards us, im still heading into wind and the other canopy is starting their approach to land, so i make some S turns to try and lose some height to give the other canopy some extra room, this seems to be working 🙂 then at 300 feet i line up for my landing. I flared on landing probably a second or two too early, as landed with a bit of a thud, but, still a standing up landing 🙂
Afterwards i was told that i shouldnt have really done the S turns on my approach, I explained my thought process behind why i did them, and was told the other canopy actually had loads of room. Its things like this that get learned with more experience
Arrived at the dropzone nice and early, even though it was the morning after a night out, and i woke up an hour and a half away, and its pretty cloudy, but, looks like when the clouds clear, will be jumping on the north landing area. The first lift goes up, with a 100 jump limit in place, but once they land, the limits lifted, and everyones on lift2 🙂
The plan for this jump, it to practice being stable on my back, i know its going to be cold though, i only have a T-shirt under my jump suit, and the usual excitement feeling in the chest is there, making it feel colder. Im told ill be jumping a slightly smaller 230 canopy, so get it all ready, then as theres so many on the lift, im swapped back to the 240. In the plane on the way up, i go through it in my head, dive out, few rolls then flip over onto my back. Get to altitude, doors open, and im out, dive out rolled in a ball, then open myself out and onto my back. I try to go into a backloop, from being flat on my back, which didnt work at all like i thought it would, and i ended up spinning all over the place, got myself stable and back on my belly, and thats when the wind hit me right in the face. I spent the last 1500 feet with my hands in front of my face to block out the wind, before opening at 3,500 feet. As soon as the canopy was open, i grabbed one of the rear risers, and yanked it, thats another avoidance manouvure ticked off the paperwork, then look for my landing zone. I see the cross and arrow, but cant see the blue flags to the side of them where they normally are, but, do see to small ‘square things’ a bit further away, this must be the marked area for us, so i setup myself to land there. While under the canopy, i see 2 others landing in the same area, so am happy that this is right. As im on my final approach, i see that theyre not actually markers, but small concrete blocks, but, land within my intended area, and flare nicely for a good standing up landing.
Speaking with the others who landed there, they all thought the same thing, that as the blue flags werent out, that these 2 ‘markers’ were meant for us instead, but, it also shows that we are getting better at picking our spots to land 🙂