An online skydiving logbook

June 29, 2008

some shit, some fun, some beers

The day starts with low clouds. Some people could argue that they are too low, but enough people are willing to try their luck, so the first load goes up. I am not on it. The cloud deck is under 2000 ft. To clear some trees, Polleke lands with the wind, on a rough far-end of the DZ. He only just started jumping again after he had both his hips replaced. And he is under his mini-Katana. And he is unlucky. Shinbone fractures. On both his legs. What a lousy start of the day...

About an hour later, the sky is almost blue, and I go up for my first jump of the day. It's a level 7. The guy is a fireman, a medic too. I like working with people who are trained in handling stress and emergencies. He is rather nervous in the plane, and at 11000 ft, I tell him to bring down his hartbeat in the next few minutes. He looks surpried, then smiles and just does it. And that's the start of a great jump! Congrats on graduation!

Next is a level 4 with a very big guy. Well over 2 meters, over a 100 kilos. Exit is good, but then he doesn't arch, and since he has a lot of surface, our average speed for this jump is a mere 105 mph. He is not unstable, he makes a good jump, but without arching. OK, good enough for me. But over a 100 kilo and only 105 mph: I don't think I know any other skydiver who can do that...

On to the next: a level 3, an older man I jumped with last week (or 2 or 3 weeks ago, I don't remember). He has over a 100 jumps from 20 years ago, most of them static-lines, but over 30 freefall jumps nonetheless. Last time, he held on to his PC, so I brief him again on the difference between ripcord and PC. And this time, I make him actually do it a couple of times. Up we go. His exit is not very good. Rather than taking control of the jump rightaway, he more or less falls out of the plane. His body position is not good. Much worse than the previous jump we did. We manage to release him for something like 20 sec, so it's not that bad, but at 6500 I start signalling him to check altitude, at 5500 I give him a shake, Gert gives the pull signal, but there's nobody home. 4500 Gert pulls for him, and only then, while he is pulled out of my hands, I see him waking up and giving the 55 hand signal. And this for somebody with over a 100 jumps?? During debrief, he tells me that next time, he will put on his reading glasses so that he will be able to actually see his alti. ????? Some people, I really have a hard time believing...

To end the day a level 5 with the big boy again. Look at it. What a great jump!

And as always, a few well deserved beers to round up the day. Get well soon Polleke!

June 28, 2008


Today was supposed to be a non-jumping day, but since I finished a bit early with all the other stuff... I am at the DZ at 3 pm :-)

Too windy for students today, so it is fun-jump time. First is a sit with Mario. Apart from the exit - it takes me almost 3000 feet to finally arrive in a stable sit - it goes remarkably well. We can work in horizontal and vertical axes. And we stay rather close to each other the whole time. If I accelerate, I still backslide quiet a bit, but I can move forwards too! Under canopy, he follows me when I fly my pattern, but when you are higher up in the air, it is difficult to judge exactly how and where the lower person is flying. He almost lands out :-)

Second is a solo. Let's work a bit on that exit. Still not great, but better. Rest of the jump backfly, plant heels and push to sit (without using arms too much) and backwards again to backfly. Controlling the backward motion is difficult.

Third is another jump with Mario. I funnel my exit again, go on my back, push back up to sit, where is he, look around, oops, he's what, some 50 m underneath me. And in going down, I backslide again. Hmmm, not a vey good jump, this one. I am definitely getting better at this, but progress is slow, ooh so slow...

June 22, 2008


Today is not as hectic as yesterday. We cleared most of our "back catalog". It is rather windy this morning, but nothing too bad, so there we go. A level 2 to start.

Under canopy, she doesn't do a wind check after her canopy checks, and by the time I'm down and can start to steer her, it is too late (we don't use radio, we steer them with a big arrow). She flew downwind too much. But I can see her realising she's not going to make it, change direction and go for plan B. As briefed. Well done!

Shortly after, all AFF is grounded. I go up for a freefly solo jump, but by now upper winds have reached almost 40 knots. I exit on the far side of the little town next to our DZ, and, in freefall, I sail over it. Must be quiet a view for all the people that are having their sunday afternoon coffee and pie on the terraces in the town center :-) But it is also rather bumpy under canopy. I'd rather have a drink and watch the others for the rest of the day. The winner is Grim, making a downwind swoop. Spectacular, 200 meters or something I guess. Hmmm, lets have another beer.

June 21, 2008


So after a few weekends of bad weather and other activities, students are queueing up. I am spotted while walking from the parking lot to the hangar, Sus waves at me, I give a nod, and I am on the next load. Fitting is now. A level 3, one of the guys from my FJC a couple of weeks ago. It is his fourth attempt at level 3. Exit is not too bad, he doesn't arch, his knees and elbows are are lower than his pelvis. Stable for a few seconds, than a 180° sweep, looking like he is going to fall on his back any moment. Altitude awareness and pull are OK. One of those more difficult decisions. Maybe he'll do a good level 4, maybe it will be a disaster. So since maybe is not good enough, we decide to make him jump another level 3. Sorry for him, but when in doubt, you just have to go for the safest option.

Next is another level 3. A tall guy that looks like he will go fast. And he does! 129 mph average. I am wearing my weight belt, so he makes a good jump, and I enjoy a comfortable one. He always comes to the DZ with his kid (some 10 years old). On the one hand, it is great to see a kid so obsessed by our sport (and by his dad of course), on the other hand, I really wouldn't know what to do with him if his father had an accident...

OK, stop musing, level 3 again with the guy from the first jump. Although he saw himself on video from the previous jump, his body psition is still not good. So I fly behind him, and I give him a good knock on both his knees. The penny drops, and he pushes his knees up, and floeps, the arch is there. I checked it and before my little knock, our average speed was 107 mph, after it was 127 mph: a 20 mph knock-knock: not bad! (You should have seen Sus' face: first a big question mark, "what is he going to do?" and then the ooh shit, when the student accelerated away :-)

Next is a level 6. Another guy from my FJC. I did jump 1 with him, but none of the other levels. He is very nervous in the plane. On exit, he doesn't make a count, can't be out of the plane too fast. And once in the air, it all comes together, and he makes a great jump.

Then there is a level 1. I talk to the man, and he tells me he has over a 100 jumps, the last one was some 20 years ago. He looks a bit timid, he could have negociated a few currency jumps, rather than the full AFF course, but hey, lets just make this jump, and we 'll see about the rest later. I talk him through the differences between then and now, ripcord versus pilot cute, flying characteristics of nowadays canopies, ... His jump is great. A perfect level 1. Until... At pulltime, he looks completely aware of what he is doing, very controlled, good body position, but he holds on to the PC. He doesn't throw it away. And I specifically talked to him about it. Fuck, I should have made him actually do it, instead of mere talking! I hit him on the hand hard, and in a reflex, he lets go. Sus gives me a thumbs up befoe we track away.

Next one is a level 2. It as around 7 pm by now, and when I want to start briefing him, the guy tells me how pleased he is that he can make another jump today. His buddies already went home, and he was planning to leave too, just finishing his beer... Whooo, stop here, "you just had a beer?" Ok, that's it. I 'm having a beer too. We'll jump tomorrow :-)

June 15, 2008


I woke up with blue sky this morning, but predictions for today are not good. And as often when they say on the telly that it is going to rain, people make other plans, and when the weather turns out to be good after all, few jumpers and even fewer students turn up.

I picked up Klara on my way to the DZ, and we arrive late: I am only on load 2, I missed the first load :-) My sit exit really sucks. The jump however is nice: make speed, lean forwards, lean backwards, and so on. Even after well ver 3000 jumps: what a feeling!!

An hour later, on my second jump, the clouds are already starting to build beautifully. Big cumulus mushrooms, with tops already above 13.000 ft. I am sitting in the co-pilot chair, and it is a spectacular flight, zig-zagging through corridors between them. The pilot flies a very good jummprun. He cyrves it, over 90° in all. And he manages to give everybody clear sky for their jump. I fall next to the cumulus that he avoided by this manoeuvre, and it is a big heavy cloud. Thanx!

Third jump. I skipped a few loads before I manifested again. I looked outside, checked the sattelite pix on the internet, hoped for a little luck, and decided to go for it. It is almost completely overcast by now, and a big thunderstorm is visible some 50 km north: a very big and impressive cloud, form of an anvil, I guess up to about 20.000 ft. There will be pictures of flooded streets this evening on the news. But we are lucky, and we have a sunny spot for our jump (the last one of the day, as it turns out). A 2-way sit. Luk still has to fly quiet a bit forward to stay with me, but hey, we stay together, I manage to play a bit with the level, etcetera. Whoooha!!!

There's one more load after this. I am not on it. The plain gets caught up in traffic: the thunderstorm is now over brussels airport, so traffic control has to work hard. Approaches are changed, queues are formed, and the result is our plane is stuck at flight level 110 for almost 15 minutes. No climb, no descent, just stay there. Pilot has to de-ice the wings a couple of times. Finally, they are allowed to come down again.

I am really glad I wasn't on that plane. Yes, I know, I am chicken. I prefer iced beer over iced wings

June 8, 2008

Rained out

This weekend should have been the big weekend, the weekend of our new club record, a 70-way. Briefing at 8 am. Leslie Gale organising (I like her style :-)). But it rained. Hard. All day long.

Everything was in place. Our 3 Caravans, plus a (rented) Skyvan as the lead plane. I really don't like Skyvans, I 'm just plain afraid in them. But I love a tailgate exit. And I was to be the super floater. Hmm, that makes for a nice jump, plus a chance to show off a bit. But we never even tried. When it was still overcast and foggy on sunday around 2 pm, the whole thing was called off. Without even one try. Not even a little formation load :-)

Of course from that moment on, the weather started to clear out, and I still managed to make 3 jumps. They were nice 8-ways allright, but when you were expecting to do a 70-way, well... It is a bit disappointing.

Let's try again next year, hopefully we'll be luckier than.


what we planned

and what we actually did


June 1, 2008


I live some 25 km away from the DZ, south-west of it (and that happens to be the predominant wind direction over here). So after a rainy morning, when it clears out at home, I leave for the DZ, and we (the nice weather and me) arrive almost at the same time.

We are 14 belly fliers in load 1, we quickly brief a 3 point dive, and it really is a fun one. We are done before we reach 7000 ft. Big smiles all around! Next is a sit/stand-up, where I try to follow two other people. I can't match their vertical speed:-(

Jump 3 is a level 3. I don't know the guy, it's his third attempt at this level. But he did a few minutes of tunnel after the previous one. And it shows. He is very tense, but the jump is not bad. We take an hour to debrief and than brief his level 4, and up we go again. I really put on a show in the air to relax him, and it works. Up there, everything is so much easier when you smile! The tunneltime shows: he can't exit, he can't fly forward, turning is not completely under control (after the 90°, he was supposed to turn back, not to throw in a 270°), but his movements are very crisp, his general flying is OK. In a tunnel, they don't teach you altitude awareness: he almost never checks his altitude spontaneously. Only when I give the example, he mimicks me. That will be an extra TLO for his next jump. A good jump, I had fun just being there :-)

So just a sunny & lazy afternoon: 1 FS, 1 FF, 2 AFF's, and a few beers to round it all up...