Jump 321a – No politics in the plane.

I’ve got more than a few jumps that will be hard to write about someday.. However, most difficult ever I think, may be to write about the jumps that didn’t happen. And even harder than that, for me at least, will be be to write about politics. First, let me simply define what I consider politics. Most generally speaking: debate.

One of the things I love most about skydiving, is truly the humanity of it all. On the ground, every man (and woman too, of course!) is equal, and everyone has their own opinion. Mostly, those with the experience required get together, whether in the packing room, the managers office or even at a safety meeting up north somewhere, to debate the best decisions for the speed and direction of our sport.

This truly is the best, I believe, as it also is for my country; the democratic way. However, like all good things, there is a proper time and place. And in the air, there simply is no room for it at all.  I believe, the moment we board the aircraft, we simply must follow the chain of command. And it starts (nameless, because ALL with this title should be respected) with the Pilot.

For the rest of this post, I could be wrong, as I have not debated it with anyone – this is just my opinion – as always, ask your local Instructor, in person, for any clarifications.

When the plane takes off, the Pilot is in Command – this is no longer a democracy, it’s called Martial Law. No one jumps unless he says so, it is only his ticket on the line. When he gives the green light to open the door, a second person joins the chain – (nameless, because ALL with this title should be respected) the Jump Master.

Only the Jump Master, the one person with his head out the door and looking down, can fully ascertain the the conditions directly below the plane. Their combined authority at this point allows either the Jump Master, or the persons under his authority, to exit the aircraft.  As each next group moves towards the door, the process is repeated. (For any students, your directions in any situation will always come from your Instructor.) Eventually, every Skydiver gets the chance to look down and decide to jump, or not.

In any aircraft “situation”, whether it be as mundane as cloud cover or as severe as an engine out, the Chain of Command, must be followed. If your position in the plane, at that moment in time, isn’t one of those two, and sometimes three positions of authority (Pilot, Jump Master, Instructor) your job, simply speaking, is to keep your mouth shut and do as you’re told. Okay, onward to jump 321a – and yes, that is how I logged it.

It was another great day of skydiving, September 12th, 2009. At about 6,000 feet the door was opened for a hop-n-pop. The skydiver due to exit, was less experienced than the man the opened the door for him, that person, the Jump Master (a very well respected member of my personal skydiving community), declared to the Pilot that there was a complete and total cloud cover and that he should take the plane back down.

I will personally admit I did voice my opinion once (i was three back from the door and had no authority on the load), though I also responded quickly when the Jump Master told me to close my pie hole. I then quietly observed while at least 5 of 15 people aboard the load continued in a heated debate. I fear, had the Jump Master not been such a respected person, more chaos could have ensured had his authority from the Pilot been overrode. During this time, the plane continued through the air, until the Pilot declared, rather sharply, as was his manner; to close to door, he was taking the whole damn load back to the ground, as was well within his authority as the Pilot In Command.

This was a first for me, landing in a jump plane (which was good, as it made it easier the next time, when I had to declare a “no go” on myself). I can also say this was the first time I wrote the word “fail” in any logbook ever. Not specified at all, just underlined for emphasis. As I read it now, I fully realize why I wrote it. It wasn’t because the lack of jumping was a failure, but rather that the politics and debate, simply have no place in the sky. The chain of command had failed, with so many added links, until the Pilot used his charm… and resumed his absolute control of the passengers of his plane.

I truly hope this is the last time I ever have to write about politics in any post here, though honestly, I did make this choice myself. I could have written about 321a, or 321b. I do hope I have not offended any nameless persons here, more so, I hope I am not wrong. In case I am, I’ll leave at least three final points of universal wisdom:

  1. Given any two choices, always go with your first idea. 2. Any man that is willing to write about politics, will always end up a day late and a dollar short. 3. Always thank your Pilot more often and never forget to bring him the first beverage after last load.

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