An online skydiving logbook

August 31, 2008

3 AFF jumps today

August 30, 2008


At last, a beautiful blue-sky day. The summer we are having, our climate is really getting confused. I guess we are the last generation that will be allowed to burn fossil fuels just for fun, so we might as well enjoy it, no?

It's busy. The bad weather made for a lot of funjumpers that still have some money left, there are lots of tandem bookings that we had to cancel, and of course lots of AFF students, eager to continue and complete their training.

First there is Mieke, she took her FJC end of june, and only now we can do levels 5, 6 and 7. 5 is a good jump. 6, at one point she funnels, gives me a sad look, I can see her mouthing "sorry", than she turns belly to earth again and continues with the dive. I like it when my students are polite ;-)). On her final level, nothing works: she funnels the exit, funnels her frontloop, funnels her tracking, but apart from looking frustrated, she handles it all and she pulls, at the exact altitude, stable. She repeats the dive for her first solo, and this time, it all comes together. I know it went great before she tells me, just by looking at her smile.

Then there is an older man with whom I already made a few jumps. He is stuck at level 3, it is (if I remember correctly) his fourth attempt now. He has resigned himself to wasting his remaining jump tickets on level 3 jumps, and quitting after that. When he tells me this, I refuse to jump with him, and tell him to come back only if he really wants to give it a try. It takes a bit of time and a bit of peptalk, but we do two jumps today: he passes his levels 3 and 4. I am rather proud of myself. Look at it:

Maybe he's not a natural, and maybe he'll never be a skygod, but he will be able to stay safe and have great fun.

A quick level 1 after this, and then finally, beer!

August 23, 2008


4 jumps today. 3 sitflies, one was a 2-way that really went well. The other guy gave me some feedback on why I am so lousy at exiting in a sit, and for the rest of the jump, we really were flying together. At last! I enjoyed it terribly!

There was also an AFF jump, a level 3. During briefing, I asked him how he would react to a twist. At first he tried with "I don't know". When I pushed him a bit, he told me he would land it. He saw my face on this answer, and added that this was what he was told in his first jump course. We took our time briefing him and he made quiet a good jump, but I am going to avoid this guy for his further levels.

Early afternoon, it started raining. And it kept on raining throughout the whole of sunday. :-(

August 16, 2008

Lazy saturday

Schaffen still closed, so Zwartberg again. Level 7 with my Mexican friend, 3 funjumps, and home again by 3 in the afternoon, sleeping in front of the television. Might I be getting old???

August 15, 2008


My usual DZ is closed this weekend. There's an old timer fly in on the airfield. So, let's make some jumps at Zwartberg. Immediately when I arrive, manifest asks if I can help out with AFF, and of course I can :-)

The student is a super light weight (52 kilo) mexican youngster, and we do levels 3, 4, 5 and 6. A quiet day for me, the day of a life for him. He arrived in the morning, looking shy and stressed. After his first jump of the day, he started smiling. By the end of the day, he face was frozen in a big, happy, not-of-this-world grin. This is his level 5. Good exit, floating around a bit in the beginning, confident on his 360°, flying forward is difficult at first, but than he gets it, great altitude awareness on his second turn, good pull. A very nice jump!

What I don't like about this DZ is the lack of beer at the end of the day :-(

August 9, 2008

First Jump Course

8 candidates, 7 showed up. The groundschool bit was done a little after 4 o'clock. I jumped with two of them later in the afternoon.

The first one was one of the most exuberant-enthousiast guys I ever saw in the air: screaming and shouting with adrenaline-joy from exit till opening. The second one, a long time friend of one of our tandem instructors, made a few jumps 20 years ago, and now finally circumstances were right for him to continue with it. He appraoched it with the exact right mindset, and we all had a great time.

One of my students, who jumped with other instructors, completely freaked out. The primary instructor finally pulled for him at around 8000 ft. I was on the same load, and I noticed that a student canopy was missing in the air. When I came down, his instructors were anxiously looking up, searching. For a few more minutes, you can kid yourself that he is hiding between one of those small scattered clouds, or in the sun. For a few more minutes, you can not-answer his wife, asking which canopy is her husband. And then, the incredible sense of relief when somebody yells "there!" and you see a canopy. Almost 5 km downwind, an out landing, but nevertheless: a canopy. He hurt himself rather badly on landing.

August 3, 2008


We planned on doing 16-way today. As usual Luk briefs the jumps. The first one is a boogie-style jump with zippers, transitioning into other zippers. A classic, that I first did 13 years ago with Eddy Vandevonder (I looked it up in my old logbooks, it was a 24-way then). One guy hanging in the wrong slot destroys the jump, 15 others aren't good enough to save it.

So we try again. This time one guy is low. It's the slot before mine. I wait a bit, he doesn't come back up, I decide to take the empty slot. Sus, who is behind me, immediately follows suit and takes my slot, and this leaves us with a formation that we can work with. But improvising the transition is too much. Sus and me don't know where we'll end up, and the people from the other side couldn't see how we solved the problem, so they don't know what to expect either. Funny all you want, but not very effective skydiving.

We still brief a third jump, but the weather (again) goes bad, and we have to cancel for the rest of the day. No beer, too early yet :-)

August 2, 2008

Like a bird

After a few bad weather weekends, and a family holliday (where all things even vaguely connected to skydiving are taboe), at last: jumping again. And nothing planned, not on the roster, no commitments to students, nada! So I just manifest for load 2 (I went for an early morning run: great, but it made me mis the first load), and we end up with 11 bellyfliers on this load. So fate has decided: an 11-way it is.

Quick brief for an easy jump, and off we go. There's one girl going low, but we turn a clean 10 points without her. Nice one to start the day! Problem however is that while being low, she starts tracking away early, a few seconds before we break, but she doesn't track all the way. She just follows her built-in clock and makes a normal-duration-track, and so ends up opening almost 1000 ft too high. Luckily me and the other guy tracking in her sector had our eyes open. It's a mistake I see fairly often: a higher break-off altitude that results in a higher pull altitude, rather than in a longer track And to top it off, she hurts herself on landing. Nothing serious, just "one of those days" for her.

We stay together with more or less the same group for the following jumps. Nr 2 is a more challenging 10-way. Some out-facing positions and stuff like a 10-way donut... It feels really good in the air: smooth flying, smiles all around. Canopy ride gets more tricky: winds are picking up, it starts to get bumpy, but nothing we can't handle. I want more :-)

For jump 3 a few new people join us, and the overall quality of the group is lower than on the previous jumps. I feel a bit pissed because we brief an easy one, and we still manage to fuck it up. But what felt like a lousy dive for me, apparently felt great for some of the others. Excited talk about how we managed to make the second formation, and even nearly completed the third point. I guess I'm spoiled :-)

By the time we go for our fourth jump, the weather is starting to become a problem, but we can't get enough, and if we hurry, we can just beat that fat dark cloud-thing that's closing in... We brief something funky: a long zipper, break it up in 4 pieces, that hop under/over each other to form a new zipper. Nice moves, but after the second hop, there's a collision and we loose a lot of time before everybody is up and running again. But a nice one! I must remember this jump, and try it a few more times.

And that's it for today (it is raining by now).

And if you wonder about the title of this post, it is about a great image I saw today. There was a tandem passenger today at the DZ, a woman with Down syndrome. Sam, who videoed her, showed me his tape. The tandem master did a great job on the briefing and preparation, and then the freefall. After the exit, you see her face opening up in a big smile of pure happiness, and for the next couple of seconds, she flaps her arms, like wings, like a bird. Beautiful, moving... (and it made me thirsty: beer!)