Friday, September 30, 2011

Skydiving Duck V: Altitude! Altitude! Alltitude! (AFF 3, attempt 1))

I wanted to be extra prepared for my level three jump.  I studied till  I had the dive down cold:  Exit, circle of awareness, two practice pilot chute touches, circle of awareness, lock on (keep looking at the altimeter) at 6000 feet, wave off at 5000 feet, and pull.
Being prepared didn't keep my legs from shaking when I did my practice exits in the mock up door.  I knew most beginners were nervous, but this was silly.

 That being said, on the plane ride I was delighted that my fear level had gone down since the previous ride.  I was still scared, but it wasn't the vicious terror that tormented me earlier.  And for the first time, I exited without screaming.   It was almost fun.
At first things went great.  Soon the instructors let go and I was flying on my own.  Gosh, I thought.  I'm actually doing this.
Then came the stupid thoughts:
 
 I wasn't panicked, just distracted.  Even when the instructors grabbed me again I thought Gee, I guess I wasn't as stable as I thought I was...  ...oh !@$!  Altitude!  The parachute!
The instructor pulled for me.
Fail!
I was livid.  How could I have been so stupid?
It was arguably the easiest, most obvious and most important move, and  I'd blown it.

My inner critic let me have it:

How on earth had I gotten distracted? 
I'll admit it's pretty weird up there.  An alien environment:
In retrospect, I should have dropped the chatter about whether or not I could breathe (now really!) and go back to the plan.  Arch.  Heading.  Altimeter.  Repeat.

Update: (Oct 2, 2011) I repeated level three.  Click here to find out what happened.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Namowal, I know what it's like to feel like an idiot 'cause you forget the most basic things. Heck, I forgot to arch on AFF 4, and had to repeat it. And one skydiver I know took two or three tries to get past AFF 2, 'cause she kept forgetting to pull, and she was really hard on herself, too. Both she and I now have several hundred skydives under our belt. Push through, keep at it, try to do your dives as close together as possible (same day if you can), and before you know it, you'll be doing cartoons about your first solo jump (for which you'll owe beer!).

James Williams said...

This jump actually sounds like a success, if you were stable in freefall without instructors. Most people have a natural slide or turn that needs effort to counter. Sounds like you're set.

At my dropzone the culture is to never finish the day on a bad jump. Try to get back in the air as soon as possible.

Mike Healy said...

Aw, I can't get enough of these...they keep getting funnier and funnier. The "Freak Out-O-Meter is hilarious, and I love the "alien environment" drawing at the end. Pretty lysergic! As Jim Morrison once said, "Damn...give the singer some!".

Namowal said...

Anon,
Thanks for the encouraging examples. It's funny, before I started this the idea of "forgetting to pull" seemed ridiculous. What kind of dummy forgets to do that? Then you get up there and between the novelty and the time limit, things happen.
I'll have to consider doing more jumps at a time. After my first few jumps I was so rattled that doing it again on the same day seemed unthinkable. But it's starting to sound like a good idea...

Namowal said...

James,
It is kind of funny how I did okay with the new tricks and messed up the old trick. At least it wasn't the other way around.
The "don't finish the day on a bad jump" reminds me of the rule to get back on a horse you've fallen from. Sound advice. :)

Linda Davick said...

These stories are just great. And the art is WONDERFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Namowal said...

Mike,
Glad you like these. One of my more dubious skills is the ability to create surreal pics without having used hallucinogens.:)

Namowal said...

Linda,
Thanks! :)
I'd actually hoped to draw more pictures but my computer was acting up and I was running out of time.

MikeJD said...

Aw, I'd been waiting for this one - and I'm glad now that I didn't see it straight away, because by the time I did you'd some better news to report. :)

Yep, jump as often as you can, and more than once per day if possible. It's easily the best way to progress, especially if you tend to be nervous at the start of each jumping day.

I don't think I've ever had the 'can't breathe in freefall' feeling, although it seems to be common enough - I've heard first time tandem students report it quite often. I expect your instructors have explained that the only thing keeping you from breathing in freefall is you. ;)

Oh, and great cartoons as ever. Even if I did want to slap your 'inner critic' right in the, erm, bill, for giving you such a hard time!

Namowal said...

Some comments are showing up in my mailbox but not here...
...thus my test comment...

Tod said...

More please

Andy said...

I am loving your story and the cartoons, they get right to the heart of it. I did my AFF 1, 2 weeks ago and went to do my AFF 2 yesterday. Got on the manifest, climbed to 14,000 feet. Nervous but excited, I climbed out of the plane, looked to my instructor on the right to check in only to notice he wasn't there!!! He'd lost his grip and fallen off! I looked down to see him fallig gracefully away looking up at me, that's a mental image I'll never forget. Oh well, climb back into the plane, maybe next weekend :)