Well, I bummed around the house for an hour or two, and then finally decided to head over to Tecumseh for a few dives. I got there just in time for a caravan load going up, so I started to get my stuff together and be ready. I ended up using a Falcon 215 sq ft parachute, my smallest to date.
The winds were really high at altitude, about 35 mph, and I could almost fell the ‘drift’. For most of the jump I just stayed in a neutral freefall position and tried to measure my drift across the ground… while up there i think i did one front flip and a few 360’s. Only other difference was the handle to deploy my main parachute… instead of the standard orange cylinder, it was a round ‘hackey-sack’ design… no big deal, i just did a few more “handle-touches” in the airplane on the way up to altitude to make sure i had the ‘feel’ for it.
I pulled at 4k and the landing was great, about 15m from target. I think it’s a lot easier for me to land the smaller chutes on target than the larger ones (like the 265 I had to use at Midwest all weekend).
Apparently, once I got to the DZ, that made enough jumpers to fill the caravan for a few more loads, I got on the second load, planning to do another solo, but in line while discussing what everyone on the load was doing, Keith and Karl mentioned they were doing a duo, I asked if I could join is (as they are both AFF Instructors, I could jump with them even though I’m still un-licensed) so I made my first three way. Â Some might say my first three-way attempt! But I’ll count it because we did make one point!!!
On the ground we had a few seconds to do a quick dirt dive, we were going to do a “three-way drive-thru”, basically, we make a circle first, then those two would open up there hands and I would ‘drive’ thru the circle, turn on the other side of it and rejoin the circle between them, then each of them would go, then me again. I’m sure ‘experienced’ jumpers could each have four or five rotations doing a simple formation like this.
However, (lol, like you thought this would go well for me on my first time!) Karl was exiting on the rear float position, and I would be diving out right on his chest, and Keith was diving out right beside me, I watched Karl’s count and went with him, that part went really well, I stuck right next to him down the hill then docked once we were stable. I looked up to see where Keith was coming from so we could ‘let him in’ our circle, when I looked up, the wind caught my goggles (my new ones) and pulled them up, the wind instantly teared my eyes and I was probably down to about 40% vision capability. Keith docked in the circle and we had our point! (Yay! my first point!) Those two released their grip on each other and me, for me to drive thru, i drove across the circle but when i turned my 180, i lost a lot of altitude. I spotted them above me, so i de-arched to slow down and rise back up, and rise i did! Right up under Karl slamming into him and pushing him up and out of the circle and he flipped over onto his back before recovering. All this time, my goggles are still on my forehead (letting the wind blind me), so I thought I’d try to pull them down quickly while we waited for Karl to rejoin. When I pulled my hands into my face I front flipped into the partial circle and the whole thing just broke up at about 7000 feet, so I tracked for while (now with my vision re-stored!) and pulled at 4k.
Parachute opening was perfect (my pack job) and landed standing up about 15m from the target again… I would have been spot on the beans; except I flared a bit early and it seemed to give me a little bit of lift that carried me past the beans.
This was a jump I was and wasn’t looking forward to at the same time. My first clear and pull (AKA hop and pop). The idea is that you should be able to exit and immediately deploy your parachute at low altitude, in case you ever need to, such as an airplane emergency. The first one you do (this one) is from 5500 feet, compared to the 13,500 feet I.ve been jumping from, after this one, I have to do another from 3,500 feet!
Also, because it’s a low altitude jump, you do it from a Cessna 182, rather than a caravan (appearantly its more fuel efficient for the smaller plane to go to that altitude). So this was also my first jump from a Cessna.
The idea is, you get to altitude, open the door, climb out onto the landing/wheel assembly while holding the wing strut (so you don’t get blown off!) Then you inch your hands out on the strut to a point where your not over the wheel anymore, and take your feet off the wheel, and just hang there for a few seconds until your body isn’t swinging around anymore.. The wind is strong enough to push your body back at about a 45 degree angle! Once you’re stable… you let go!
The part that had me worried, was I though the strut would be hard to hold onto (clammy hands couldn’t help!) however, once I got out and in position, I paused for a good six or seven seconds just amazed about how oddly natural it felt for me to just be hanging from an airplane wing strut a mile above the ground and just be loving it!
Suddenly the notion of time struck me and I was like “oh yeah, I.m supposed to let go!”
At this point I had one tiny error, my coach had told me before the jump that doing the hanging exit put you in a nearly perfect stable position, except for your arms, and you have to pull them back into the 90 degree ‘goal-post’ position. That part I missed, as I let go of the plane, I kept my arms extended, but also I kept my legs strong in their position too. The result is that when I let go, I stayed in a vertical ‘feet-to-ground’ position, rather than belly-to-ground. But just for a second or two while I lost forward speed and my body leaned forward towards the ground, that.s when I pulled, just as my body went from upright to about 45 degree (about half-way from feet-to-ground to the belly-to-ground position).
The parachute ride was nice… it’s been a long time since i’ve had so much time under canopy… as i’ve progressed from my first jump (wave and pull above 5500) to my last few jumps (wave and pull at 3,500) i’ve gained about 10 seconds freefall, but lost about a minute and a half canopy time.. It was a nice and relaxing (and slow) drift back to the ground.
And now I.ve VERY close to being licensed; only two more jumps! One more clear and pull (from 3500, only about 2/3’rds of a mile high!), and then will be my Class A check ride… AND THAT.S IT!!!
Next weekend, or perhaps the next one for sure… we’ll see!
So what a day it’s been for Labor Day…
…perfect opening on my own pack job!
…point in a formation!
…jump from a Cessna.
…hop and pop!
AND, no one made me by beer! I love it.