An online skydiving logbook

May 31, 2008

F***ing close

Started the day with 3 FF jumps. I am starting to make those jumps with other people now: 2-ways and 3-ways. And well, is it just me being complacent after so many years of belly flying, or is FF really lots more difficult?

Next was a refresh-level-4 jump. The guy started skydiving in 2005. He totals some 20 jumps now. Only 2 of those were in 2007. Plus he had some blabla about making more jumps and not filling in his logbook. I stopped believing stories like that some time ago.

But (dangerous as this attitude may be) that's not why I want to talk about this jump. There were a lot of newbies and solo jumpers on this load. For the exit, there was a solo jumper (the big guy in a black suit, right at the start of the video), than 3 other solo jumpers, and than it was our turn. You don't see the actual exit of the guy in black, but it is at least 25 seconds before we exit. And yet. After my student pulled, I made a backloop to video his opening, and next thing I see is this guy, under his canopy, straight underneath me. I ducked, tracked, and fell past him at (I think) between 10 end 20 meters distance. I was under canopy at 2000 ft.

He funneled his exit, then tried to sitfly but kept falling over on his back. About 9000 ft, he had enough of it, and went for a good 4000 ft of tracking. All of this straight up jumprun ...

Next a jump with a recently graduated student. I gave his FJC but didn't do the jumps with him. He weighs some 35 kilos more than me and Werner, his instructor, told me he really burns a hole in the sky. A linked exit (his first, beer!). 360° left, 360° right, backslide 2 meter, stop and redock on me. And than a little fallrate exercise. When I started to accelerate, first there was surprise on his face, and then he started to arch some more, and some more, and then finally he started catching me. When I slowed down, he was lost... We averaged 129 mph, and had a fun jump!

To end the day, two level 1 jumps. The first one, a friendly girl, I wanted to turn her into the sun, but the other instructor was determined to keep her on heading. He won (the video lost). Jump went fine. Second one was a guy, talking too much, but hey, nerves can do things to a person, you know. He went through all the mechanics of the dive, but without really knowing what he was doing. I stopped him from pulling at 7500 ft, he made the movement at 5500, but I had to make the actual pull.

7 jumps, lots of fun, one big scare: that calls for a couple of beers!

May 27, 2008


In a few weeks, we are going to try a new club record, a 70-way. Today there are training jumps, 32-way. These are organised jumps (well organised, thx Tom!) with 2 Caravans. On the one hand, they are selection jumps for the last articipants, and they are also for people like me: the last "big" formations I did, was a weekend of 32-way sequential almost two years ago, so I am quite rusty on this.

And it shows: first jump, I start my approach in the wrong sector (I am some 30° off), I am slow, and I am way too conservative. I am almost ashamed when I watch myself on the video, waiting over 5 meters out... Second jump is better. Straight approach, I am a stinger, so I can go to my position and wait there without hindering anybody. I can take up grips around 6000 ft, but break off is at 5500 for us, so there is no more time for the wacker to build behind me. Third jump and I am starting to feel comfortable. There is one guy missing in the wacker behind me, otherwise our site of the formation is OK.

I doubt if we will be able to make the record. A 50-way: no problem. A 60 way: do-able. But a 70 way: that's ambitious for our club. There will be people on the jump who need babysitting, I just hope there aren't too many of them. And of course, if you have 10 people on the jump who can do it 9 times out of 10, you will always need luck to make them do it all together.

In the afternoon it gets cloudy, so we have to cancel jumps 4 and 5. But it is not too cloudy for a quick FF dive!!

May 11, 2008


First is level 2 again with yesrterday's bloke. His fourth try at this level. And at last, he makes it. He'll never be a natural, but it's a good enough dive. I'm happy for him, and also a little bit proud that I helped him achieve this.

For his level 3, he is still very tense in the air, but look at this: I've seen worse, much worse. Maybe yesterday was just a bad day after all.

There is also a tracking jump, in plain trousers this time. I can keep the level, but it is ooh so difficult to make speed without booties. Second part of the jump, the rabbit accelerates, and away he goes. I'll have to practice some more on this.

To end the day, Koen organises a 16 way. He briefs us on an interesting jump, but the dive itself is a bit disappointing. Divers with ill adjusted breaks, going under and having to float back up. On transition a 4-way piece going low, etcetera. Well, it was a nice enough try. Let's have some beers!

May 10, 2008

Level 2

Belgium is the warmest place in europe this weekend (at least, that's what belgian television was telling us yesterday evening). Whatever, it's a beautiful day. I have no plans, no appointments, and I'm not on duty. I can do whatever I want. First thing I arrive, Gert asks me if I want to do some AFF. And of course I say yes :-)

A guy doing his second jump. A level 2 but he didn't pull at his first jump (beats me how you can pass a level without pulling). Exit is good. Next there are a few movements that could be understood as a COA. Practice pulls, three times he panicks, three times I have to grab his hand and guide it to the pull. And that's it. We are at 9500 ft, and there's nobody home anymore. I pull for him.

2 no-pulls in a row. No good. For his next try, I simplify the dive. Altitude awareness and pull is what I want. And it is what we get. His body position is awful, we have to work hard, but he stays with us the whole dive, checks altitude at regular intervals, and makes the pull himself. Waahoo, that's progress!

Next I brief him on a level 2. Awareness, body position and a little turning. And this is a very strange jump. Good exit. COA, I signal legs out, he does that. We are at 11000ft. Then there is a gap. 15 blank seconds. At 8500 he wakes up, makes his practice pulls, 6500, lock on, and an OK pull. That would have been a good enough level 2, but a 15 sec blackout halfway through the dive??? On debrief, he recalls the legs-out signal, and he thinks the practice pulls came immediately after that...

Tomorrow morning we'll start with another level 2. That's a first for me (as an instructor): that will make (at least) four tries on level 2. Maybe skydiving is not the right sport for him, or he may also just have a bad day. Whatever, I have the feeling it's gonna be a long road towards AFF graduation.

In between all this, I can squeeze in 2 jumps. A FF jump: sitfly (good exit!), turning on my legs, just having fun in the air. And a tracking jump. An easy one for me: I still wear my AFF suit, with booties. Most of the others wear freefly suits or pants. But there are too much kamikazes in this dive. I back off some 10 or 20 yards and watch a collision and two funnels in the remainder of the dive. Maybe I'm getting old :-)

Today is the first day for our new bar. Beer(s)!

May 4, 2008

Strange stuff

Things heared at the DZ today:
- "My canopy always opens with a 90° right turn, so I compensate for this by turning 90° left while I pull"
- A 7-way. 3 people floating, 2 in the door, 2 on the second row. The 2 guys on the second row were two big, heavy guys. "Don't exit immediately with us, wait 2 seconds, because you have a higher fallrate"
- A student trying to bribe himself to his next level by offering a 100 € to an instructor.

Level 6 and 7 with Inge. 6 was somewhat awkward, she had to work hard to regain control after a funnel exit, and a funnel salto. But her level 7 was a very good jump. Regaining stability after a funnel salto was smooth, I could see her enjoyning herself and learning at the same time. She had a very good AFF course, a beautiful progression to witness.

There is also a jump with Wesley. He already made 10 jumps since finishing AFF last weekend:-) We go for a 2-way star-exit, me floating, he diving. His timing is off, too late, so I more or less drag him out, but he really works well on the relative wind. Off the hill, hover in front of me, backslide 2 meters, stop, come back and take grips. And again. After that I float up, he follows me up, I accelerate, he follows me down. 5500 ft, 180°, track, wave off and pull. An amazing jump for someone who only graduated last week!! He weighs 52 kilos, I accelerated up to 142 mph, and he was still with me.

Two funjumps and a bit of video editing in between. And beer afterwards :-)

May 3, 2008


Glorious weather, a bunch of visitors camping on the DZ for the long weekend, a first jump course with 12 students: it promises to be a fun day! First take-off at 10.02 (we open at 10.00) and of course I am on it. A bit of backflying, sit and standup to start the day :-)

There's this guy who wants to do a level 6, but his level 5 was over 6 months ago. "The weather has been bad" Yeeaah, sure :-) So we go up for a level three (with Yves as partner-instructor). He is very uncomfortable all the way through, and doesn't pull for himself. We immediately go up for rejump and this time he is OK. It is clear even in the plane that he reconnected with skydiving. The difference is amazing, this is a good jump.

Next are a bunch of first-jump students. First one, all I remember is me and Erik (the other instructor) smiling at each other during the exit, when he is wriggling through his sensory overload. Second one was a girl. She insisted on jumping with what looked like class D hiking shoes ("ankle support"). In the air, she looked a bit like a pancake: completely, strictly 2-D, with arms and legs stretched wide. At pull time she went through the motions, only she didn't really pull. She left the PC in the BOC. But she immediately continued with a real pull, so that's OK. I didn't forget to duck for those monster shoes. Third one really enjoyed himself. Plus he made a good jump, was good under canopy and made a beautiful tiptoe landing.

I was also on the last load of the day. I was back on the ground at 19.51. We have to close at 20.00. By the time I was done packing, two beers were gone :-)