– Skydiving

Skydiving at Hinton.

Jan. 15 2016: Day 1, 6 hours in a classroom… lots to learn.. hand signals, safety checks, emergency procedures, landing patterns, flight priorities etc…

Day 2, flight day… I thought maybe I would do one jump… but nope, I ended up doing 4… 50% of the way through to my skydiving ‘A’ licence.

The airfield

On this day we were jumping from 13,000 ft. Chute to be opened by 6,000 ft. carry out checks and enjoy time in holding area. Begin landing approach (down-wind) at 1,200 ft. At 800 ft. head crosswind. Up-wind at 400 ft. Partial flare at 15ft, full flare at 10ft and land.

You can see a small circle in the middle of the landing area… note this for later!

First AFF Jump

Standard jump – full checks, 2 instructors both holding on until time to launch chute.

Before the flight, I could feel my arms and legs becoming numb.

As the doors opened, I felt numb… I felt myself stop breathing.

I made the mistake of looking down when jumping out… meant I ended up on my back, facing the sky… instructors helped me to stabilise. Rest of jump was smooth though I had trouble maintaining a stable position. I had far too much height in the holding area so had to make lots of turns to lose height. Coming into land, my height was still too high due to strong winds carrying me fast, so I had to break away from the landing pattern. Guided by radio I was able to land within the landing area with a roll.

Instructors asked if I wanted to do my second jump… I was unsure. In the end I decided I would.

Second jump – level 2.

Still as scary as the first jump.

Lovely exit… smooth and in the right orientation.

Had a reduced checklist… only practiced pulling the chute twice instead of three times. There was enough time to practice a left turn and forwards movement.

Coming in to land, again there was too much height. I was able to make changes to my landing pattern and instructors on the radio were happy for me to follow through my own landing plan. Assisted with the flares, landed perfectly on my feet and walked away like a pro :) loved it.

Was asked if I wanted to do a third jump… initially I was told I had half an hour, but then my instructor said someone else wasn’t ready so we’d take the next flight… a rush began to kit up and head out….

AFF Jump 3

Less checks. Aim of this jump was for both instructors to let go and for me to maintain heading and position. I didn’t think they had let go… but the video shows that they did :)

Whilst in the holding area… I could hear instructions on my radio that sounded wrong… I made the decision to ignore some of those instructions despite hearing a lot of instructions telling me to correct my flight….

On landing I almost made it to the center circle… just missed it by about 5 meters… Very proud of that!

On landing my instructor mentioned that a young girl who had jumped after me didn’t deploy her chute in time… I think an instructor had to do it for her… but it meant that she ended up below me. My instructor wasn’t told about this on the radio so he was looking at her… thinking that was me and giving me instructions that applied to her! So i did well to ignore the instructions and make my own landing plans.

On landing, the tower crew asked if I wanted to do a 4th jump… “your instructors want you to”.

During rehearsals I was told that I’d only need to check in with one instructor before jumping out… “what about checking out with the other instructor?” I asked… “There is no other instructor… just me”. That scared me… why? All this time I thought the instructor on the outside of the plane was helping to pull me out… I never thought I would willingly be able to throw myself out of a plane… turns out, they had not been helping to pull me out… I had been using my legs all along.

So, idea of this jump was that I would jump and stabilise, instructor would let go, and I would practice my turns if time allows.

By now it was getting cloudy…. We flew above the clouds… I never thought I would one day be falling through the clouds… Been up in planes many times and wondered what it would be like… Now I can say… it’s awesome!

Jump was okay… still had trouble with my stability, but managed to do a turn… at the time it didn’t feel like I had done it… I felt like I was trying to turn right but went left… Unfortunately the instructors helmet was knocked over, so I can only see myself on their helmet in the video… but it looks like I did the right turn, then came back around from it to my left (I was intending to stop the turn, not come back to my starting position… either that or the instructor went around me).

Rest of the jump was good. Nice landing, but not as nice as my second or third.

Next jump will be an assessment of my ability to do two 360 turns… to be able to do that I have to be able to stabilise faster… the jumps are expensive… retakes are also at additional cost. My instructors have recommended that I try practicing in a wind tunnel… it’s expensive but buys 10 minutes of free-fall time whereas these jumps only provide 30 seconds or so each….. will definitely take that recommendation.

After each jump my fingertips were frozen… Couldn’t feel a thing.

Been a day since I returned home from the jump and an arm is still numb with pins and needles… could be a trapped nerve or maybe I hurt it a little during a landing… the adrenaline rush means I have no idea when it happened… but definitely worth while.

So day 1 of jumping and I’ve already logged 4 jumps and a total of 3 minutes of freefall in my logbook… just 9 hours and 57 more minutes of freefall and I have enough to be an instructor one day :D (no that won’t happen.. I don’t want to be responsible for vacuuming someone off the ground)

Wind tunnel practice

Went to the wind tunnel. Would like to do it again.. it’s a great resource for practicing moves and the coaches are very knowledgeable… watch the video below as I’ve included a clip of one of the coaches having fun in the tunnel.. looked great.

Enjoy the clip.

Feb. 14 2016:

Drove to the airfield very early. Wind speeds were nearing legal limit for student jumpers (17mph). Caught the first flight for my level 5. Unfortunately the exit was disastrous. I was satisfied with the turns although they were not precise. The exit was however questionable enough to satisfy a re-jump… level 6 would be a solo exit so instructors want to be satisfied I can exit on my own in a controlled manner.

Under canopy the wind speeds had picked up. The parachute has a maximum forward speed of 15mph and wind speeds were higher than this… so to be able to reduce speed, I had to fly my parachute all the way backwards to the landing zone. I had to land backwards too… As I approached the landing zone I could hear instructions on the radio… instructions such as “avoid concrete, land on any bit of grass you can find”. Managed to land – turbulence due to hedges around the landing zone helped to slow down the chute.

Don’t have a video for this one.. but the next one wasn’t too different…. so look out for that video. Though I waited around for the rest of the day, kitted up in my rig twice to prepare for flights, the air speed was fluctuating too much on the edge of the legal limit so there were no further flights suitable for me.

Mar. 12 2016:

Thick fog meant that I could not jump until around mid day. I was also sharing my rig with another student which meant I could only make every 4th jump so that the chute could be repacked. Did my level 5 rejump… whilst my exit was better than the first attempt, it was still not great. Turns weren’t entirely controlled. The recommendation was that I try once more.

Tried jumping level 5 again. I felt the exit was worse… it felt like there was a lot more wind as I left the plane. I was also unhappy with the turns… After gaining stability I started to turn to the left without intending to do so… On looking back at the video, I have a leg higher than the other and this may have resulted in it… my arms aren’t well positioned either and that did not help and there’s a slight twist in my waist… Managed to correct it all and perform my turn, but again it wasn’t precise. On attempting the left turn I stopped short of a full 360 and then ended up doing a further 180 right and a 270 left again or something like that.

Enjoy the clip.

I thought I had failed, but to my surprise, three instructors reviewed the video and agreed that it’s a pass… I think that their thinking is that I can work on the turns and I have shown improvement in the exit.

Very nervous about level 6… solo exit at 12,000 to 13,000 feet, gain stability above 8,000ft. Do a back flip to lose stability. Regain stability before 7,000ft and track forwards for 5 seconds… pull the chute at 6,000ft.

March 26th 2016

Day of the solo exit. Tried to remain relaxed. I would jump out unassisted, instructor would jump a few seconds after me and keep an eye on me.

Exit was best exit I have ever done… had great advice from an instructor – arch at the door before the exit… I did just that and the exit was nice and smooth. Did not end up on my back – however, it was all downhill from there. I went into a spin. Tried to arch harder – tried to point the toes, raise the head, raise the arms and so on. The more I tried to correct the spin the faster it got. From 12,000ft. to 8,000ft. the spin got faster and faster. I remained calm throughout – it was lovely watching the world below me spin. I was ready to pull at 6,000ft, monitoring my altitude and trying to see if I could control that spin. However, my instructor had no way to tell if I was monitoring my altitude or not… he pulled my chute at about 6,500ft… this was probably the most embarrassing part of the jump – an instructor pulling a chute for me at a time when that sort of thing should not need to happen. I did feel I was starting to dip into an angle, and might have ended up on my back, as I neared 6,000ft… So perhaps it was for the best. Canopy control was great… again my instructor was giving me instructions that sounded wrong so I had to ignore them a little. He then realised he was looking at the wrong person and told me to continue with my own pattern. I walked off my landing – perfect landing again…. So unfortunately it was a fail… I was unable to stop that spin and do my position, do the backflip or track forward.

I was keen to review the video footage to see what I did wrong. Everything had felt so right. The camera however was not working… It had taken still images until I got to the door but nothing after that. Damn.

Instructor didn’t want to make me repeat level 5 – I can jump with an assisted exit; he’s comfortable with that – so he recommended I do tunnel time and we try 6 again at a later date. Will do it but if I can’t get level 6 nailed I might never be able to do solo jumps. Just have to wait and see.

Will be updating this in future as I progress through my licence.

—- update —-

Unfortunately gone are the days of excess disposable income. I am a homeowner now and have taken to target shooting – skydiving has had to be benched for now. I’d like to get back into it one day but not sure when that day will be. Perhaps when I’ve won the lottery or become a poker pro.

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