An online skydiving logbook

March 23, 2008


It's the long easter weekend, and I have only today that I can jump. And I have to be at a family dinner by 1 PM, so without further ado: let's jump!

First is Inge, the girl from last week, for her level 2 jump. I team up with Sus. I exit from the inside, and at the exact moment that I give the "OK" on her check-in, Birky taps me on the shoulder (he is also an AFF instructor, but for this jump he is the camera flyer for the tandem that will follow on us). I look at him, and he starts shouting and gesturing at me, but whatever it is, it is too late. We are gone. It is not a good feeling, exiting and at the same time questioning yourself, worrying what might have been so important as to disturb a student exit. (Turns out he wanted to tell me that they were going for a second run, and maybe we wanted to go on that run rather than now - please don't disturb me with stuff like that on exit, Sus already checked the spot before climbing out)

She makes a good exit. A bit too horizontal for the relative wind, but far better than average on a second jump. It is very cold, -25° C at exit altitude, and the air is very humid. The result is that during our jump, I can see a thin layer of ice forming on her chin and nose. But that apparently doesn't distract her. She is very aware, and makes a really good jump.

On the ride up, I checked her altimeter at pull altitude (5500 ft) and it was some 500 feet off. You can clearly see Sus checking his alti and hers when she doesn't lock on at 6000, and me looking at her alti instead of my own, to give her the opportunity to pull (of course I have an audible).

There is still time for a quick solo jump after this one. Exit on my back. Up to sit. back to backflying. A few 360° on my back (confusing!! everything is the wrong way round). Sit. Push to stand-up. F**k, time is up. I love it!

March 15, 2008

First Jump Course

Since I've been an instructor, I have always started the new season by giving a FJC. Same this year, today. I am at the DZ at 8.30 (yeah, I know, way too early on a Saturday morning), and by 9 o'clock, 6 out of the 7 announced students show up. Because there is still some construction work going on in our hangar, we still have no classroom and no videoroom for the moment, but I can use some of the military facilities next door. (And in a couple of weeks, we will have a beautiful all new and shiny bar :-))

It's a good group to teach. They are all fireman or soldiers, so they all have a basic physical ability, and only one of them never jumped before. All the others have at least a tandem jump and a few static lines. Teaching goes OK, I'm not too rusty on the material, although I completely forget to explain field packing. Instead of tackling it while we are talking about the gear, while the gear is lying in front of us, I have to come back on it at the end of the course, when I am explaining that the jump ends when they are back, not when they touch the ground. Around 3.30 h, we are through, and we can start with the fun bit of the day.

For the jumps I team up with Yves. First to jump is Inge. She is in the military, she just came back from her tour in Afghanistan. She did patrols there that included helicopter flying and she got sick a few times, and now her main concern seems to be that she is afraid of being sick again in the ride up. She is composed and makes a very good jump. Some asymmetry in the legs make for a slow turn during most of the jump, but the important stuff is all there. Yves and I land out (my mistake, I should have called for a second run) but she makes it back easily, flies a clean circuit and makes a good landing.

Next is one of the firemen. He is in his thirties, and I estimate him at some 20 or 25 kilos heavier than me. So it is full weight belt for me, but we have fun. He is good in the air, very aware, obviously enjoying himself tremendously. When Yves signals him to arch harder, he really gives it a go. Our average speed is over 130 mph. We could have released him without any problems. He also flies his canopy very cleanly, and on landing, he makes a beautiful PLF. He announced before the jump that he was going to do it like this, rather than trying a stand-up landing.

Three of the other students made their jumps with other instructors in the meantime, (2 good, 1 nobody-home) but for the last guy, it's too late. Sunset, so no jump for him today. Pity. For him of course, but I also prefer finishing a course on the day. Anyway, how about a beer?

March 8, 2008

8 and 12

For the last few weeks, we have been using one plane for two dropzones. Since it is slow season, that's normally not a problem since the two fields are only some 40 km apart. So it is an alternating routine: climb, jump and then the plane descends to the other DZ. Normally, we shouldn't loose too much time like this. But. Problem today is that on the other DZ, there is a 16-way training going on. In short, I 've been in all the loads on our DZ (all whole four of them :-( ) and I spent way too much time waiting at the boarding area (cold, wind). But hey, 4 jumps is 4 jumps, right?

First jump (after more than an hour of waiting in the cold) is an 8-way. For the exit, I am the middle diver. The next diver, to my right, gives me a pin check on exit. But that's not why we funnel it: one of the floaters goes belly up, so... Rest of the jump is OK. Under canopy, there is more wind then we expected. A bumpy ride, but a nice one!

While the rest of our group wait for each other and for a few newcomers, I quickly throw in another jump. Exit in sit, backfly, push to sit again, f**k why do I fall over when I look at my alti? Using my arms too much, not flying with my legs... bwaah :-)

We are 12 now for the next jump. For the exit, I am front floater, and silly as it my sound, that's my favourite position for this kind of dive. I love the wind, I love the power you need to make a good exit from that position. It is a good dive, but no thanks to me. On the third point I take a wrong grip, and for the rest of the jump I don't recover. Each transition, I have to wait and look what the others are doing, before I know what I have to do: it is one big brainlock... (and a few people noticed: beers are in order :-))

Nice 8-way to end the day. Our standard exit works this time. I am in the same position, with someone else diving to my right. He is also too early in the exit, but I manage to fly through the pin check. It's a kind of a boogie-jump. After the exit we make a star, that we then break into two lines of 4. Each line curls up and makes a 180°, and back to the same star. Next is open accordion, followed by closed accordion, and back to one. One of the jumpers is a young hotshot: hours of tunnel time, completely focused on 4-way. He has a wrong grip on exit, brainlocks each time we do the star-star thing (he releases his grip), and he doesn't build the closed acc from the inside, but just goes for his grips. But he is much quicker and more accurate then I am, that's for sure :-).

First round is on me. After that... Well, who cares anyway!