An online skydiving logbook

October 28, 2007

Shit happens

No instruction today, no arrangements to do 4-way, or 16-way, or anything. Just showing up. From the moment I walk into the hangar, Maus looks at me, and I say "yes, first load?" It turns out we are 7, different skill levels, but a very nice jump.

For the next jump, our group has increased to 10, it gets more difficult to organise a jump that is challenging as well as within reach for everybody. We only do 4 points. Better split it up for the next jump.

We split into a 4-way and a 6-way. I'm on the 6-way, and we can brief a more complex jump now. I propose an open accordion exit, and one of the others (whom I never saw before this morning, this is only our second jump together) asks if I am quite sure about that exit. A few minutes later, back on the ground, he agrees that it is indeed not a difficult exit, if everybody does his job and flies his slot. The whole jump was smooth and very nice.

Another 6-way. We exit a star (we funnel it), then donut flake -> donut flake, and we continue with an inter to in-out. Next is a full donut, and back to one. We recover well after the funnel exit, and there is real rhythm in the jump. Under canopy, I am still smiling. I don't go for the usual in-front-of-the-hangar landing, because it is a bit turbulent there, I decide to fly a good 50 meter further away. While I retire from the landing pattern, I see something in the corner of my eye. There is someone under a partly open main, with the reserve hanging out of the harness, not inflated. It was the AAD firing that caught my eye. Things go quickly now. The reserve inflates, but not completely, both canopies are intertwined, it becomes a kind of downplane with two half inflated canopies. It goes down fast (much faster than me anyway) and it spins fast. Ooh shit, too low for cutaway now, ooh fucking big shit. He hits the ground. He must be dead. I fly towards the spot, land some 50 m short. I see Erwin a bit further, already on his mobile phone, so I run towards him. I expect to find a broken body, but he is conscious, he talks ("my canopy spiralled, I don't know what happened, it spiralled so fast" and so on). No visible injuries at first sight. Woow, that's one lucky bastard. It is the same guy I told you about last week, when I saw him having a line-over and cutaway. His leg is caught up in the lines of the reserve. So that's why he went down with it.

We later hear he has some back injuries, but nothing too serious. I wasn't on duty, and I'm not a rigger, so no paperwork or talking to the police for me this time. Just a few beers. By the time I leave, the police are still taking statements (this is parachute-murder country, they want to make absolutely sure there is no sabotage involved), and somebody has put a few stickers with the club's logo on their car :-).

October 21, 2007

4-way and some

4-way with Door, Jean and Sus today. I am tail. We start with a smooth one: open accordion, bow, tee, zipper, phalanx. Exit is great, and although we didn't jump together for quiet a long time, the jump is smooth, with a nice rhythm.

Next jump we do a few randoms and block 12, bundy-bundy (but with 360° for the front piece, we don't feel like working). Not my favourite block. At one page, we have a funny mess-up : Door and me, the tail piece, we go low, and the front piece was counting on being stopped by us, so they fly by and make a 720° before they manage to stop :-).

OK, now it is time for the fun stuff: just four points, 14 (bipole-bipole) and 6 (stardian-stardian). I love a straight bipole exit, it goes remarkably well, first 540° is completely up the hill. I need to work to stay in position, but I manage. One of the bipoles, I see Jean not starting his 540°, but waiting for Door to turn passed him: he knocks him on his helmet, makes a 180°, and arrives just in time. And swinging your piece around in the stardian, well, that's my idea of fun... Back on the ground Jean denies that he only did 180°, nobody believes him.

We all liked the previous one very much, so we go for something similar: 16 (compressed-box) followed by the obsolete zipper-star. I know about the problems with this block, but I still think it's a pity that it's no longer in the divepool. It has always been one of my favourites. Exit is great, turning towards that box, really steep on the hill, yes! Again we manage a very nice rhythm. Hmmm, this is what I missed during the AFF season. A guy on our load has a line over, and has to do a cutaway. He is still on student gear, so his briefing is not to bother with the stuff, just take care of himself. I see it all happen. Sus also saw it, he follows the canopy, so I start following the freebag. Shit, it comes down in a piece of land with horses in it. I'm not going to land between them! So I land a bit further on, but by the time I am there, two horses are already happily chewing on the freebag. I shoo them away, and recuperate it.

Sus has to leave early, but I still feel like jumping, so I do a quick one with two low timers. It's nice to see them being pushed and liking it.

Sunset load is a tracking jump with 9 or 10 people. A very nice close of the day (although I go low in the end). In the meantime, we have received the news that Hayabusa has won the military world championship. They beat the Golden Knights with a one point difference, and they set a new world record while doing it (41!). Well done, guys, congrats!

October 14, 2007


At 9.30 am, everybody is ready for briefing, only the organiser was 30 sec late:-). First jump of the day is an easy one, everybody's facing in all the time, "hardest" slots are a few cats in the second point. It's been a long time since we have flown together and it shows. The jump as a whole is not bad, but could have been much better. I am rather disgusted with my own performance. Exit is slow, my dive is terrible, I deserve to get axed for the dock I make, and I react slow on the key to the second point.

In the meantime, it became very busy on the DZ. We have a two hour wait, before we can make our second jump. The jump is more challenging. Base is an 8 way, a round with 4 people facing in and the other four in doughnut in between them (like the base for a ruby, with two extra people sideways), and then the base becomes an 8 way doughnut. I am front floater this time, my favourite exit position for this kind of jump. Base makes a 45° turn while building, so we (outer people) have to work a bit. Second point is not complete: there is a collision, and we end up with a 7 way doughnut, and a nice 14 way. I am still not too pleased with my own flying. On the first point, I didn't notice that the base wasn't finished yet, one grip was still missing, so I grip too soon. On the second point, base (well, what's left of it) is finished when I grip, but it is not a well-flying formation yet, so again a bit too early.

We decide to do the same jump again, but we have a three hour wait, before we can go again. And that proves too long to stay focused. We start of well, all the floaters have a good exit, the first point builds OK, cleaner than the first time, but there already are a few minor fall rate wobbles. While building the second point, this grows into a level problem and the centre doughnut collapses. Over and out. It was my best flying of the day, but I choose our poorest jump for it. Pity. There is little wind, and somebody pointed the arrow that indicates the landing direction downwind, I like it!

And that's it for the day. Although it's only 4.00 pm, all the loads for the rest of the day are complete. :-(( It feels too early for beer, but what can you do?

October 6, 2007

My favourite playground

After another week of rain and mist, it is again a glorious weekend! Sun, blue skies, hmmm... Gert, another instructor, has talked some people from his work into doing a skydive. We start with his boss. Lots of joking ("if you need a pay rise, this is the moment to ask for it", etc.), they obviously get along very well. His exit and body position are OK, but his practice pulls are way off. Each time, I have to work to bring his hand to the right place, and while doing so, each time the formation turns about 90°. I can see the cameraman having trouble cause he has to film into the sun, so I turn the formation back in the right direction as soon as I can, but hey, first things first. At pull time, he is a little slow in starting the works, and again he can't find the pull. Time's up, so I have to pull for him. Pity, his mind was on the task, but he couldn't get the mechanics right. Under canopy, he completely disregards my steering him, flies a good circuit, and lands beautifully.

Because there is a shortage of cameramen, we have to wait before we can go up with the next guy. I can just sneak in a funjump. I exit first, all the rest of the load are students and tandems. Backtracking, some very slow barrelrolls, head down, it's my favourite playground up there :-) All the others on the load open higher, and are under big canopies, so there is no one around when I come in for landing, and I make it a nice downwinder.

Gert's second colleague is a younger man. He doesn't arch, his legs are completely tucked in, but he enjoys it, and makes a clean pull. Like the first one, under canopy, he disregards my steering instructions, flies a good circuit, and lands beautifully. Maybe I have to check how they were briefed :-)

Next is level 4 again with last weeks' skinny guy. This is his 5th attempt (and we are in the plane with another level 4, who is on his 6th attempt already). He exits OK, As soon as I release him, he starts to slowly turn, he makes a strange move with his hips to try and stop it, almost falls over, and then at once, click, he's got it. He arches and is in full control, gives me a big smile. I give him thumbs up, and the rest of the jump is a piece of cake.

An hour later, we go up again for his level 5. First part of the jump is good, but then he starts pushing out his legs too much. Instead of turning, he is flying forward in big circles. He doesn't see my legs-in signal, so when I move to his side at pull time, I really have to side-slip hard to stay in position. But it is great to watch how he is aware of the air around him, and how he tries to work with it.

Apparently, lots of people had their birthday this week, so I phone home to tell that maybe, just maybe, I might be just a tiny little bit late in coming home this evening.