My debrief, to an AFFI

I have a TBI.

I died and I think I might have killed myself.

One moment to shine and I got angry. I don’t know why I killed myself and I do know how.

At the moment I saw the arrow, (read the arrow and processed the current dz rules pertaining to arrows, acquired the new data, validated with all other data, performed error correction, accepted data) I got angry because I thought Shaggy had stayed to watch my landing. Why did that make me angry? Well at the moment I realized I was about to land downwind I did not and I still do not known why he had told me to do that. To me, his setup was obvious in that moment (don’t veer, the side to side doesn’t matter,) he had told me everything I needed to know to land a downwinder, just without telling it would be a downwinder. He had also gave me the information to get there, on which line to setup, in fact- that very animated, then in front of everyone as I sat on a picnic table watching him- he told me all the lines he used, there waving his arms over the tent city if I’m going downwind, here over the bar for nothing, else over the gates.

Shaggy, I told him you know I don’t go downwind, just tell me the setup I need for this run. People had started gathering around, just milling as we do between loads. He changed his tone here, now being laughing and joking like, not wanting to give a public lesson. His tone changed the conversation and participants, I walking off with my younger son to begin his lesson. As we walked around the back of the building I told him I was going to go for the pond and he asked me why, and I told him, shaggy had just given me rundown on all the setups and had shaved thirty jumps off my pond progression.

See, early in the trip I’d thought about going for the pond- I like to fly fast and well, it was (would’ve been,) my first pond run. However, I knew that it would take twenty or thirty jumps to get it all zero’d in, to know my setup line so that I would hit the gates with the best chance of enough distance to clear the pond (just something I want to annotate in my logbook one day.) Since the trip was dedicated to my son and I didn’t have the funds for both, I had chosen to skip the pond for the trip. Until I got a “Fast Forward” canopy lesson from shag… now I had a chance to do it in one shot, combining my limited skill with shags trusted experience.

And I legitimately remember him happy and positive through the lesson at the pond (a twenty minute canopy lesson answering my questions… but I won’t speak for him, you’ll have to ask him for details.) And I’ve got a strong wall of defense against bullshit.. fifteen years of knowing to double check bonfire talk with your local instructors. And as an AFFI, I usually am one of those local instructor to double check and separate fact from fiction (which varies on individual canopy performance per that one student you’re working with.)

Shaggy gave me a one on one coaching lesson, perhaps the last of my life. I remember it. Clearly. From the pond with Shaggy, over to the picnic table for the setup line lesson, then me off with my student.

As for my student- as I was using my coach rating on that jump and have been called out by an AFFI:

Yes, I was there. I briefed my student on H&P, roughly per SIM – mostly a strong arch and to keep his eyes on me. In the loading area, I supervised my student simulated his exit on the mockup multiple times until correct. I had given additional corrections to keep his legs wide, he had a tendency to keep them narrow, ‘penciling’ in air.) I did review his canopy and landing instructions and he did recite back to me correctly. All standard for the local dz, students setting up parallel to the landing arrow for downwind, two turns at appropriate height, turning final and landing with the arrow. All other priorities were also reviewed.

My students was gear checked (religiously, as if I was holding my sons life in my hand,) before and at the gate, after we loaded. In the plane his h&p objectives and canopy flight and landing priorities were reviewed.

At the 1 minute call I turned on my camera and had my student double check it (a heads up student, I’d just done his whole progression) I checked the spot and supervised (unneedly,) the exits before my students, then my students and finally exited myself.

My student had already displayed exemplary canopy skills and had all checked off on his canopy card, hence I did not plan to observe his landing in the student area.

I did take an unusual delay in debriefing my student, almost a week. I did apologize to that student for my delay, however I did eventually sign off on his H&P on his progression card and did grant his A license from my hospital bed.

Back to my jump now……

At that moment I got angry and maybe that was what fucked up my landing. Too much time lost in that moment, and the rest just trying to dig out without stalling out– I had one bad’ish landing from a low stall before, and Shaggio had given me advice after that jump (’20 or ’21 pics on my Facebook somewhere, or on the site.. can’t remember right now) that was great and helped and I learned… and he knew he sent me downwind and I couldn’t trust the dig-out stuff either and I don’t know if I thought it then or since, I didn’t know if maybe he was right, maybe he really thought I was ready to send it down wind in those conditions. Maybe I was good enough to land it if only I was ever willing to try. Maybe he was being a good coach. Maybe he was helping me. But, #ShaggyWasntThere

Two days prior, shaggy said he met with me, taught me a 270 left pattern (that I learned a decade before from chapter 6 and visualized perfectionately for me by Greg just months before) then fist bumped me after our meeting ended well. He said wouldn’t let me skydive with my kids then he fist bumped me and smiled. He said the meeting ended well.

I keep watching that video and I try to imagine which moment my brain broke.

Some people, the smarter ones, the leaders, the communicators, and mostly the ones that like to read, they have started to figure this this out. This story is sad. Sad is the correct reaction. I have a TBI that caused me to loose my mind two days before my accident then randomly commit downwind suicide on my own student’s H&P.

I tried to call the bank today, one I think I still have a positive account, can’t get through their website, and the phone rings to a voicemail, no gas/ins/plates on the car, so my world is now just a mile or two wide, and so much more deeper inside.

My brain. Formed in the womb, right there, it’s cord rushing to my feet a bubble formed. I’ve always been better on the top half. Fuck me, you won’t like it either. Nor, do I like anymore my ability to put my self in that position with my brain. Yet genetically, my God made me.

Yet, if you don’t write it down, willing to be wrong, the message gets heard almost always wrong. See when it comes to battle the strong take down the smart, and those victors tell the history, exactly how they were always right and the dead, they don’t speak.

For those so brave to tell their tale, when by God they know they are right, is the write way, as their willing to be wrong.

For God has mercy on the weak, and books are written… based on the games of war.

Case of beer, past due.

AFFI – Due to my condition, do you think I’m sane enough to fly?

My doctor will say my body is fine, appointment tomorrow.

My random flow of thoughts never leads me wrong. I let my anger kill me.

Time to go.. staying calm today, I am a calm and patient person.