An online skydiving logbook

October 3, 2008


Mayhem today. A beautiful, sunny day. Very busy, and only 2 AFF instructors on site. And I have to do some other stuff first, so it is almost noon before I arrive. A bit of organising is needed first. Well, this is an understatement: it is actually plain chaos when I arrive, lots of students waiting to jump, wanting to know when they will jump and what's going to happen. Their mother getting angry at us, etc. Not nice. We manifest for loads 7, 9, 11 and 13. Then a pause for briefings and gear organising, and again on load 16 and 18. We expect 19 loads before sunset. We line up the waiting students in order of arrival. The first 6 are happy-lucky, we have to disappoint the others.

First one is OK in freefall, all over the place under canopy, lands OK. Second one is a struggle in freefall. We both hold his harness grip with our elbows tucked under his legs, to push them up. He struggles with his practice pulls, and at pull time, he can't find the hackey, so I have to pull for him. OK under canopy, flairs too high, good PLF. Third we split: my colleague doing a level 5, and me a level 4. Although I had less time to brief him then I would have liked (sorry for that, man), he makes a great jump, flies a clean circuit, and lands nicely!

This was the first time in almost a year that I did one of the higher AFF levels, without my camera. And it made me realise once more what a great tool for de-briefs video is. On the one side, the video always contains more details then my memory. On the other side, images beat words every time. He exited towards the ground, so he wasn't arching towards the relative wind: it takes a second to show something like that on video, but it is much more abstract to just explain, without images. And so on...

Fourth is a a rather uncertain, nervous girl. It takes some reassuring and talking, but she makes a good jump. If there was a prize for best-first-jump-of-the-day, she would be the winner. And afterwards she is elated about it. Next we have our little break, there's almost half an hour between our student landing, and our next call.

Fifth is a young guy, who has been waiting all day, just sitting there, between his mum and dad. But he manages to stay positive, and as soon as he's on, he is enthusiastic, engages, and works with us. He makes a good jump, lands OK, he enjoys it all. And after the jump, he reassures us (!) that it was more than worth the wait.

When we board for our sixth jump, the pilot gets notice from traffic control in Brussels, that it's too busy, and we are on a 5000 ft max height for the next hour. So that's it. No more AFF for today. And this guy has been waiting for what, 9 hours or something, and then, no jump...

I love making lots of jumps, I don't need more than a few minutes to pack, I don't mind eating and drinking on the way up, but I don't like it when the overall organisation (or better: the lack thereof) obliges me to disappoint people. But I do like beer...