Met up with Mike and got ourselves manifested for the load. We didn’t have a lot to go over on the ground as we would be doing the exact same jump from last night, more swoop & docks until I got them just right (or at least close enough to be safe to other jumpers in the sky).
On this jump we switched up the exit and I took the rear floater position, standing up outside on the back of the door.
I was trying to go a little slower with these docks, I’d done four on the last jump, but I was 0-4 for quality… the first one was good, slow, but good, the second was a little faster, but good… The third one I think I scared him a bit! after the second, I let me legs up and backslide a bit while he was going back to setup for the next dock, so we ended up about 50/60 feet from each other. I knew I had time to get the dock, if I pushed it… so instead of just legs out to cover the distance, i tried cupping my shoulders and slid my arms back abit in a track, i built up plenty of the speed and came rushing at him.. At the last moment, I pulled in my legs, and de-arched my body in a forward position (AKA Slammed on the brakes at the last moment before a stop sign you almost missed). I did effectively stop in the perfect position to take the dock, but because he had thought I was going to slam into him, he had popped up about three or four feet so I would go under him instead of hitting him (head on collision at 20mph horizontal speed is not fun). But I had stopped right were I should have been and just looked up and gave him a look like, ‘get down here’, so he dropped back down and we took a last dock before we turned and tracked away..
One more time, same jump… gotta get it right… slow is smooth, smooth is fast. Switched up the exit again, this time Mike took the rear float and I would dive out after him. I finally got it all right on this one, just slowed it down a little more, and did two perfect swoop & docks.. As he said, doing it slowly might mean less time in the formation once you get there, but it’s a lot safer to everyone than having a mid-air collision. Both docks were great, pushed forward and then coasted into the column of air, then pushed through and took the dock… text book… why didn’t i just do that the first time?
This was my last coaching dive. The idea here was that I, the student, had to make the plan for the dive, and then execute it as planned. The only ‘objective’ I had to do was I was the one that had to signal breakaway. After some thinking, I decided we’d do alternating flips, front & back, separated by 360’s left and right… On most dives, you have a short sequence of maneuvers you’ll do, then you repeat them as much as possible until you get to break away altitude… as he said, he would keep repeating until i told him to break and track.
The dive went just as expected, I kept him on the rear float and I dived out after him. We did our flips and 360’s all the way to 5k, when I gave him a quick wave off and pointed him a direction to track, and that was it.. I turned 180 myself and tracked out.
This is where the moment of truth came for me. Over the last few weeks I.ve been learning to pack my own parachute… and this was the first pack i’d done completely un-assisted with no help, no supervision.. Just me and 265 sq ft of nylon to put into a tiny little bag… Did I do it right? Would it open? Would I have to cut-a-way my first pack job? These thoughts all dropped threw my mind briefly as a tracked away, at 4k I stopped tracking, checked my alt and pulled…
Hey it chute worked!!! The opening was slow, and my slider was stuck up for a second, but it came down with a quick pump of the brakes. It was kind of exciting to knew that I was flying my own pack… until i got the the ground and was reminded of the “first” rule… first jump on your own pack job earns a case of beer!
Well, now I’m all done with the coaching jumps… no longer have to pay for someone else to jump with me… i still have to wait for 25 jumps to apply for my A license, so i’m stuck solo jumping until then. (Other than my two hop-and-pops, I’ll probably do those next weekend at Tecumseh).
This time I wanted to do something different… about ten jumps ago, i was having problems holding a heading because i was looking at the ground and not the horizon, so i stopped looking at the ground, now i wanted to see if i could do it.. And I could…
I basically just did a tracking jump and just watching the airport below me as I flew all around it in the air above… I flew myself right into my holding area then stopped at about 5k and locked on the alt until 4k and pulled…
Another exciting opening… (Very, actually)
I think when I packed this one; I rolled the nose too much, and/or pushed it too far into the chute when I packed it because at open I had two dead cells on both left and right sides… (9 cells, only 5 inflated… AKA cutaway situation)
I really didn’t want to cut-away my own pack job (be another case of beer) so I since I was still pretty high (3200 feet) I though I.d try to work it out.. A few pumps of the brakes and the left side popped out, but the left side refused. I remembered that one-cell dead on either side is okay, as long as you could still control the chute, but two ends cells dead.. I was thinking that was supposed to be a cutaway, but wasn’t sure…
Anyhow, I decided to do a short controllability check, I did two 180’s (left and right) and a flare, and it was all fine… i decided i would keep the canopy and land it gently.. At about 1200 feet, out of nowhere, the two cells decided to pop open anyway and I ended up landing normally without incident.
Oddly enough, on the same load there was another jumper, Shannon that did have a cutaway. I guess she had a spinning malfunction developed after she did her controllability check. She said it started slowly, but kept spinning faster and faster and couldn’t stop it… so she cut and landed safely on the reserve.
Another solo, I had planned to just play around doing some more 360’s and flips, but on the load, I was going out behind a big 8-way formation… i dove out after about 5 seconds and was amazed how well i could still see them.. They were maybe about 1000-1500 feet below me and about 400 feet away. I spend most of the jump just watching them turn points… was kinda cool.
These solo jumps are getting a little bit boring… but until i get 25, i can’t jump with anyone else… 🙁 I pulled at 4500 again, and had a normal parachute ride. Seems my packing skills are improving, it opened just as normally as ever.
What a day, six jumps in one day, double my previous record; and trust me, I feel it now, jumping is actually a lot more physically demanding then you might think.
This would be my last jump of the day. In the plane, I was sitting in front of cliff, the rigger on staff (AKA, the guys that knows everything about parachutes, assembly, design, maintenance, etc…) and he decided to start playing with my parachute… first he unsnapped my riser covers and starting showing me a better way to stow my rsl line, then he finished that (this is something another jumper would never do, especially while on the plane, but he the rigger, and me the student, i quietly let him do whatever he thought he needed to do), then he untucked my pin cover to check my pin, once he closed it he asked who packed my chute, and i told him that i did. He said… “Oh”. Then I asked “why?” And he said, “well it’s packed wrong, but don’t worry, it could still open”.
Wow, let me tell you, this is not what you want to hear at 10,000 feet!
He said the flaps on the container had been closed in the wrong order (bottom, left, right, top, instead of bottom, top, left, right) and I told him I.d just been doing it the same way all day as what I had been shown that morning. He asked who showed me that, and I told him, Mike, my coach had… who happened to be on the plane with us!
The next few thousand feet climbing to altitude were hilarious… a mock argument between cliff and mike on the likelihood of my parachute opening, the proper closing order of Racer parachute rigs, the difference between a “new” model and the “old” model, and of course, all comments from all the other jumpers on the load “oh well, I.d still jump it”, “no don’t trust it, leave it in the plane and jump without it”.. Lol
Basically, I.m to the point where I.ll no longer quite the “newbie” that I was a few months ago… You can tell that most jumpers try to be “nice” while there are new students or tandem jumpers in the plane, to not scare them by “joking” around and such… but at this point, i was just laughing and joking with them… “Hell with it… if the damn thing doesn’t open, Mike, i’ll make you pay for the reserve repack!.
After I finally got out of the plane, I did a lot of 360’s, alternating left and right, but practiced doing them on heading using the sun as my reference point. Trying to stop the turns at exactly 360 degrees, not more or less… by now it was about 8:00 and this would be the last load of the night, and it was getting cool on the ground, and was actually pretty cold up in the air.. But it was a good jump, and a good way to end a long day of jumping…
One more weekend like this, and I’ll be licensed!!