An online skydiving logbook

February 24, 2008

No pull

Only one day of jumping this WE, and lots of things to do before I can go to the DZ. So I get up at 6.30 and I am in Schaffen around 11 am. Weather is cloudy (a thin cloud layer between 3000 and 4000 ft, so no problem there). We are just having a completely crazy winter. It is only February after all!

I start off with another FF jump. I am still not quiet sure when you stop funnelling and start freeflying, but I am definitely getting there. When I am have difficulties sitting, I push into a stand-up. I find it easier to just cut through the air, rather than trying to handle all this air around me and trying to keep track of all my limbs and what they are doing. I often say to my AFF students that I need more "je m'en foutisme" in there jumps. Time to apply one of my own rules, it seems!

Next jump is awkward. A guy with 51 jumps. It took him over 30 jumps and 45 minutes of tunnel time to complete his AFF, so I guess it is safe to say that he's not a natural. But he has the spirit (and the money), that's for sure. Last WE, he went unstable at pull time and that was it. He didn't do anything any more. He pulled no handles. He landed under his reserve after an AAD fire. We talked to him, gave him homework to think about. Stuff like "Can you handle a life expectancy of 4.5 seconds?" (by the way, I love the "point five" bit here. It really contributes to the dramatic affect of the phrase) And now (contrary to what we were expecting) he is back. We left him the option and he took it. There's his determination again. First jump he has to do is an AFF 4, with some additional focus on altitude awareness. During the jump he has to signal me at 11, at 9 and at 7 kft. Wave off and pull is at 5. If he misses one of those by more than 500 feet, this was his last jump at our club.

First I give him the full briefing on altitude awareness and pull priorities. I start by explaining that if he wasn't altitude aware, he is unfit for jumping, and if he was altitude aware and didn't pull, he is crazy and unfit for jumping. I think he got my point :-) Next, when I take him through a refresh of the first jump course, he shows me how he will first open his reserve before releasing his main. He insists this is how he was taught. I don't believe him, but the net result is that the refresh takes a lot more time than I originally planned. When we finally go up, the jump is not bad. He does what is asked of him. But it is a bit of stress for a jumpmaster, when you know that if you fuck up, your student has not-pulled before...

When you look at the video, you can clearly see how he got unstable at pull-time on the previous jump. During his practice pull, as well as with the real pull, he stretches his legs, ups his ass, brings down his head, and his left arm, instead of being over his head, is somewhere under his chin.

Next jump is great. I exit on my back, I feel the speed building up, push myself up into a sit, and for the remainder of the jump, I push myself into a stand-up, back to sit, back to standup, etcetera. Waaahooo!!! My first FF jump where it felt like I controlled it all the way!

Fourth jump is with the no-pull-guy again. This time the jump is about his body position at pull time (and about altitude awareness of course). Just practice pulls, one after the other, throughout the jump. I make a face at him immediately after the exit, and he reacts to it by sticking out his tongue. It is me signalling that I like jumping with him, but at the same time it is a test to check how composed a student is during exit. He passes this test. And his body position is better than the previous jump. He will always be a higher risk jumper, just because of his lack of talent, but my advice to the people who make the decisions is to let him jump again. I sincerely hope I'll never have to regret this decision.

Sunset load to end the day. A simple FF 2-way. Ending the day with a swoop straight into the setting sun. Why, oh why do I love skydiving so much? (well, there is of course the beer afterwards, but that's not the whole story...)

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