It was my second jump of the day and I was the only static line jumper in the plane. I sat in back with my bright red beat up looking jumpsuit, my huge altimeter hanging off my chest and my big hard helmet on. I turned around to the experienced jumpers, all 10-12 of them smiled and gave me a thumbs up. They were all about to watch me jump out of the plane. Theses people had anywhere in between 1,000 and 10,000 jumps – they were definitely going to critique me. Oye!
My first jump was excellent. Dean, an instructor in his 70’s, dispatched us. I was quite nervous in the plane as I had not jumped in a couple weeks. I was first to go out though and believe it or not, that makes it so much easier. I seem to have an issue with my body position in the air. I do not turn my body around to face into the wind. I tend to face outwards from the plane door. Luckily I am told I have an excellent arch and a good arch will whip me into position – into the wind facing the same way the plane is. Very good dispatch, good canopy control and good landing – which I must say I flared at the perfect time and just touched my feet to the ground.
So here I am. The only way I could get a second jump in was to get thrown out on the way up to the top with the experienced guys. I felt that a second good jump would allow the confidence to settle inside me and make it all the more easier when I returned in a couple weeks. I was up to the DRP stage – Dummy Rip Pull – where I am required to pull a fake cord as if I was pulling my own parachute. The thing is at this stage the parachute is still attached to the static line and that means it is already opened and flapping around when I am pulling the fake cord. It is not as easy as it sounds.
So I position myself in the door and the instructor says to “smile at these guys” and I turn around to see all the experienced jumpers smiling at me and cheering me on. It was kind of inspiring. The feeling is that most jumpers are genuinely interested in watching the next generation learn and become addicted. It’s a cult and everyone has the same need for adrenaline.
I can’t remember if I counted out loud or not but I got to “REACH THOUSAND, PULL THOUSAND” and I couldn’t find the cord. It just wasn’t there. I mean it there but I wasn’t going to be finding it. I had reached my arm around the back of the pack to locate it and all I could feel was the flaps of the pack where the parachute had opened. I forgot those things would be waving around by the time I reached for the cord. That’s an inconvenience. Oh well – next time!
I played around in the air a lot swinging back and forth and twisting in circles. By the time I had to prepare for landing I was all the way across the other side of the landing zone. It was beginning to look like I had quite a walk back. I tried to perfect my landing but I had nothing to judge my height against and I pulled too early, too late, who knows! I fell! I twisted my ankle which now throbs as I sit but it’s all in one piece and I’ll be more than ready to go in two weeks!
Another two successful (as in I am alive) jumps – that much closer to being a certified skydiver.
The weather was absolutely beautiful this weekend which is the only reason I let myself bail on my work to jump. I mean, this is England – how often is the weather something that could be considered beautiful? I jumped all day and ended up going out at night. It was a great day!
Hopefully next time I won’t forget to pull the cord!
Earlier this evening I spoke with my mom online…
Me: I jumped and drank yesterday—nothing else.
Mom replies: oh ok-just a typical british day!
I love this country!