Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Three posts, in under a week?!

So it has been a fairly busy week for jumping. This is my last week of relaxation before I have to start mentally preparing for my other job, so I'm soaking up as much fun at the DZ as I can get.

Monday I did two more jumps. One was an attempt at sit-flying, which in reality means I just tumbled all over the place. The next was a 3-way with Larry and Jared (a new jumper who just moved to the area). Jared was supposed to dive to the two of us, but he didn't make it. So Larry and I went for a 2-way instead. I landed out in the student area on both jumps because the winds were rather gusty and coming from a difficult direction.

Tuesday I got in two more. One was a 2-way with Kevin... I don't think I've jumped with him since I got my A-license last October. We practiced fly-arounds, using my new side-sliding skills I worked on at the wind tunnel last week. I made it to the second point on his side, but when I went to fly around back of him for a caterpillar dock, I went high and had a hard time catching back up to him... so, the rest of the jump was me trying to match his fall rate. I was going to land in the yard this time, but as I turned in on final I chickened out and stayed just outside the fence line. The next jump (#106) was more tumbling/sit-flying. I actually managed to hold a sit for a few seconds at one point in there. I also managed to commit to my yard landing. I had to make one s-turn to get rid of some extra altitude since I started my pattern just a little too high, but I ended up directly next to the peas for a great landing.

And now... I need to hop in the shower so I can make it out there to get one or two more jumps before I have to go back to work tomorrow!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

More night jumps

Last night was another almost full moon, which means we did some more night jumps!

Now that I've passed the 100 jump mark, I'm allowed to start landing in the "experienced" area--the grass lawn directly in front of the DZ. To make things more exciting, I decided to make my first attempt at landing in the yard (and not hitting the barbed wire fence or building that surround it) in the dark. Ok, maybe not a great idea, but I managed to talk myself into going through with it. By the time I actually landed, the winds on the ground were a lot lighter than they had been when we took off. Since I couldn't see the windsocks which would have alerted me to that change, I really overshot where I wanted to be. I still managed to stay inside the yard (though I was only 20 feet away from the fence), but I flared high because I was so nervous and PLFed.

The next load (jump #102 if anyone's keeping track) was a 3-way hybrid attempt turned into a 2-way human propeller with a spectator floating nearby. Not sure why Rob and I couldn't manage to get that spin stopped. Once under canopy, I could see that the general direction of the wind had changed by 90 degrees. Given the new direction, an overshoot on landing similar to the one I had just done would result in me hitting the building, so I decided to go back to the "student" landing area outside the fence for the time being. This time my landing was perfect--I gently stood it up, right on target.

In comparison to setting up my pattern in the dark, landing in the yard in daylight will be a piece of cake. Can't wait for my days off this week to go make a few more jumps!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My first pie

I've been a bad blogger.

It's been about 4 months since my last post, and so much fun has happened in that time. I won't go into all the details, but I will share some of the highlights.

I've been busy with two jobs this summer, so I haven't had as much free time for jumping as I would have liked, but that hasn't stopped me from enjoying the little bit of time that I did get out at the DZ.

June and July were pretty slow for jumping. I made it out for a few afternoons of jumping, and for some good after-hours shenanigans (racing down the runway while holding on to the top of the car... in the rain... anyone?).

I spent the first weekend of August in Lost Prairie, MT. That was a FUN boogie. Got the chance to jump out of a twin otter, as well as a helicopter. I didn't waste any time getting into the swing of the boogie spirit... there may have been some flashing involved at one point or another. I also did my first cross country sunset load. We got out 4.5 miles away from the landing area and had a 20 minute canopy ride down as the sun disappeared behind the mountain tops. It was absolutely gorgeous! On jump #87, I did a 3-way horny gorilla jump with a couple guys from Washington, and one of my shoes got scraped off and lost over the Montana mountains.

The following weekend, I did my first night jump. I was soooo excited for it. I was really nervous about landing in the dark, but it wasn't so bad and I was easily on my feet. As I was gearing up for my second night jump, someone suggested we turn the load into a naked jump. I don't know what got into me, but I agreed to it. That was one awkward ride to altitude, and climb-out was COLD! We managed to hold our naked 4-way all the way to 6k, although we were spinning most of the way down. If you think I was nervous about landing in the dark, just try to imagine how nervous I was about landing in the dark without any clothes on. I decided to land out away from the landing area (which was lighted by car headlights) to avoid getting my white butt in the light where everyone could see it. Instead, I had only the moon light to go by, but still managed to come away from it unscathed. It was a huge relief to not have to experience a naked PLF out in the dirt and sagebrush!

The most recent highlight was my 100th jump tonight. I did a 3-way hybrid (another first for me) on the sunset load with Bill and Tim. Tim went into a stand, swinging on my and Bill's chest straps until about 6k. Then he and Bill were going to switch places, but we ran out of altitude. Still a very fun jump! Bill had a cut-away from diving line twists. After we tracked down his canopy, I got a little bit too relaxed and let my guard down... and then I got a pie in the face for my 100th jump. I think the smell of whipped cream is going to be lingering in my nostrils for at least a day or two.

Somewhere along the way I also got everything done for my B license. I'm still stalling on sending the paperwork in to USPA. Once I have a little bit more money in the bank, that will move up my list of things to get done.

I'll try to remember to post some updates more often, but I'm not promising anything!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

El Cinco de Drinko and other fun

I made it out to the DZ for a couple hours on Cinco de Mayo. I missed out on the pinata and didn't participate in any of the drinking activities, but I did get in a hop and pop before heading home to do some homework. 

Today I went out for the weekly Thursday night fun jumps and went up on all three loads. The first two were hop and pops again. I've been having a lot more fun playing around under canopy. The winds were blowing strong, so my landings were really nice... although I was a little bit short of my target both times. My third jump was from 10k. I practiced flattening out my track and turning with my legs. Although the uppers were still blowing hard, there was a lot less wind on the ground this time. I was right on target and had another nice landing. Something was a little off about my flare... ten feet off the ground my canopy started dipping to the right (turbulence? uneven toggle pressure?), but I was able to compensate for it with the left toggle. All in all it was a great night.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Why am I doing this?

This winter I asked myself several times if I really wanted to continue with this skydiving thing. Most of the time, I wasn't really sure. Taking several weeks to a month and a half off between jumps left me nervous about each one. With the increase in jumping opportunity over the past few weeks, though, my enthusiasm has definitely returned. Even though I'm a complete mess in the air, I absolutely love everything about skydiving, and I look forward to how much I have to learn about it.

Oh ya, I got a few more jumps in this week, too. 

I'm back on the gigantic 260 sq. ft. student canopy for a while. The smaller rental rig I used last weekend got damaged on that jump and is now at the rigger's being repaired. Thursday night I went out to the DZ and did one jump (#48). It was just a hop and pop from 5k. My landing was nice. I like having a little bit of wind to land against. 

Saturday I did a 2-way with Bill (jump #49). I dove out after him, docked, then separated and did a really messy backflip/tumble-on-every-axis. We ran out of altitude to do anything else. My flare was fine, but since the winds were so light I had too much speed and ended up sliding in on my butt.

Today was another 2-way with Pat. We got sooo close to making it together this time. We were probably a foot apart when she suddenly went low, and once again we ran out of altitude to continue trying. One of these days we'll get it figured out. I flared a little high and had another ugly PLF landing. One of these days I'll get my no-wind landings figured out, too.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I'm a Slacker

So it's been a while since I've updated this thing. Apparently the excitement of sharing every detail about every jump has worn off. Just because I haven't posted in a while, don't assume I haven't been jumping.

A month or so ago a co-worker of mine came out for a tandem, and I rode along in the plane with her. I went out solo just before her (jump #39). She liked the jump so much that within 10 minutes of getting back on the ground, she had already purchased a second tandem that she's going to do some time this summer. She was also nice enough to stick around long enough for me to go up for jump #40 too.

A couple weeks after that, I came out just to fill the plane when another tandem was going up. Jump #41 ended up being an accidental cloud encounter. Apparently I need to work on my spotting skills when it's not clear blue skies. Falling through the cloud was a really neat sensation, though. It felt like I was spinning out of control, even though I knew that I wasn't. I had paid attention to where the cloud base layer was on the ride to altitude, so I waited until I came out of the cloud at 4k before deploying.

A week and a half ago I managed to spend most of the weekend out at the DZ and got 4 more jumps in between lots of lounging around and enjoying the sunshine. My mom came out to watch me for the first time, and later announced that she wants to try a tandem to see what it is that I love so much about this sport. Jump #42 was a two-way with Pat. She went out long, I dove after her. We never made it together--I didn't put the brakes on soon enough and flew right past her. For #43, we switched roles. Still not a complete success, but we got a lot closer. We managed to at least fall at the same rate, and were only 5ft apart when it was time to turn and track off. Jump #44 was a 3-way with Pat and Bill. Bill went long, I dove from the crotch, and Pat dove from the door. I managed to make it to Bill, but Pat went low and didn't quite make it over to us. Jump #45 was a bit of a mess. Pat, Julie, and I were going to do a 3-way. I went out long, Julie dove from the door, and Pat scrambled out after us. Julie dove down to me and went a little low. When we got close enough to dock, we both had too much speed and just crashed and tumbled apart instead. Pat watched the whole thing from above at a distance--since the exit timing got so messed up, there was no way she could have made it down to us.

I spent most of this weekend at the DZ as well, but didn't do as much jumping. Saturday was pretty cloudy, but I still got jump #46 in. For jump #47 on Sunday, I switched to a slightly smaller canopy for the first time. With the weather warming up and student activity increasing, it was about time I move off of the student gear. I was pretty nervous about the change. My landings have been picture perfect for a couple months now, but this time my nerves got to me and I screwed things up again. I started my flare a little early, and then reverted back to my old habit of throwing my arms straight up instead of punching out the last bit of the flare. So I had another PLF landing, but at least I didn't get hurt. Give it a few weeks and I'll get my landings figured out again. Hopefully I won't re-sprain my ankle in the mean time.

On a different note, I'm almost the proud owner of my first rig. I bought a container and reserve last month from a friend that I met at the boogie in Mesquite. In the next few weeks I'll be getting a used main (maybe Pat's Triathalon), and then I'll be good to go. I'm working on saving up for an AAD as well, but that will probably have to wait until summertime. Ahh... summer... can't wait for it to get here!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

iFly Utah

Another month gone by, still no more jumping. It seems that every time I'm off of work and would be able to jump, the weather is awful. And every time the weather clears up, I'm stuck at work staring out the window. Ugh.

I did make it down to Ogden, UT, a few days ago to try the wind tunnel out though. I did 15 minutes on Monday, and another 7 on Tuesday. I worked on basic belly flying skills--turning, controlling fall rate, forward and backward motion, and so on. Having a chance to work on freefall skills for several minutes at a time really helped. I'll plan on heading back for another 20 minutes or so in a month and a half when I'm on spring break from school. Maybe by then I will have forgotten about how sore my upper body is as a result of the 22 minutes I did this week. Ouch.