Thursday, October 20, 2011

Skydiving Duck VIII: The Big Spin (AFF Level 5 attempt, take 1)

The trouble started at altitude.  As with the previous jump, I was to leave the plane standing in the doorway, facing the plane, with my upper half  completely outside.   I grabbed the bar over the door,  turned around, backed out and... ...wait.  I was stuck.  Had my parachute somehow hung up on something?  Was I doing something wrong?  I couldn't get completely upright*.  
The instructor signaled me into the plane,  No, I wasn't hung up she said.  The only resistance was the wind, but that shouldn't be enough to stop me.  
Thanks to my bumbling we had to wait several seconds for the plane to turn back into position.
Way to go!  I thought.  You're holding up the whole plane!  I'm sure that's a good way to make friends at the drop zone.
A wave of fear and doubt hit me.  I was screwing up.  Causing trouble!  Being a pain.  Who did I think I was, doing this parachuting stuff? 
Soon it was time to exit again.  I stepped out, looked right, then left, and stepped out.

 It's funny.  My earlier drops from the airplane seemed terrifying and violent.  There was no question that I was falling, and fast!  Now they seemed  more gentle.   Not a cozy nap-time gentle.  More of a Hey!  I'm free falling again.  Time to get to work!
 The dive plan was  simple.  Circle of awareness and controlled 90 degree turns.  It was nothing I couldn't do.  Right? 
At first things  seemed good.  Right ninety degrees, left ninety degrees.  Then things went downhill...

...right ninety degrees, left 180 degrees, right 360 degrees.   I was blowing it! (Later I'd learn that I'd rushed into the turns without checking the instructor's hand signals, and was sabotaging myself with uneven leg positions.  Thus, the spinning.)
Then came pull time.
I arched, reached back and... ...where was that handle?  It was as if a gremlin had pulled it out of my reach.

Don't be silly, I thought.  It's back there somewhere.  Go grab it!  NOW!
But a few seconds into my hunt I started spinning again (in hindsight, I should have returned to an arch and taken a second swipe at it instead of hunting for it like soap in the tub).  I arched to stop the spin, spotted the instructor nearby and-
The parachute yanked me upright like a rag doll.
The instructor pulled for me.
From exit to pull time, I'd made hash out of the freefall.  This was going to be a do-over.  I obviously needed more practice.**
At least  canopy ride and landing went well.

Update: I took level five again and passed it.  

*I was wearing a slightly larger parachute this time around, so maybe I mistook the  wind resistance for being stuck.
**the instructor  suggested I work on keeping my legs even  in the tunnel.  The next day I did ten minutes of tunnel time, focusing on those legs..   I'm getting better.  We'll see how my attempt at level five goes...


Pile Girl said...

Sounds like you're getting good at this.

Linda Davick said...

It does, but YIKES!!!

And the illustrations are just out of this world. (Especially the "then" and "now"). Those butterflies cracked me up.

Namowal said...

Pile Girl,
I'm good at bits and pieces of this, but overall I need a lot of work. :)

Thanks, Linda,
With the butterflies I was going for the "well-this-is-less-scary-but-let's-not-get-complacent" look.

Leon Roullard said...

Keep at it. We struggled at first. Leon your TI

Wolf River Joe said...

I love the butterflies. Especially the one bottom left...

About to throw the bomb.

Improvement is good. Perfecion is impossible.

At least you were able to stop the spin, some of us started spinning and couldn't stop. That makes the openings...

Once again, thanks. These are great.

James Williams said...

Take your time in the plane. The other jumpers were student's once, they understand. And the tandems will welcome every extra second you give them before it's their turn.

Namowal said...

Thanks for the encouragement. You can be sure I'll keep at this! :)

Wolf River Joe,
Thanks. :) I never thought about the ability to stop the spin as being a feather in my cap, but in retrospect I'm glad I can do that. I'd hate to think what an out-of-control spin does to an opening. Do you get a supersized line twist?

James Williams,
Good points. Thanks for posting them. :)

MikeJD said...

Aw, this reminded me very much of an AFF level of mine where I ended up spinning on my back. Funnily enough that was also the only time during my course that I had a problem finding the handle.

Don't forget you're already asking a lot of yourself even when things are going well - throw in a little distraction like having trouble with your turns, and suddenly everything becomes more complicated. Missing your handle can be a little like not being able to find your house key when you're staring right at it. Nobody moved it, but the harder you look the more elusive it becomes. ;)

By the way, the jump where I was doing the inverted spinny thing? I did pull for myself eventually, but only because the instructor was having trouble getting anywhere near me. At least you didn't give yours that big a problem! :D

It'll all come soon enough, especially with your tunnel practice. And then you'll look back on this level and ask yourself, how did that ever happen?

Favourite picture this time: that little gremlin. He even has his own tiny jumpsuit!

Namowal said...


Spinning on your back? Yikes.

I have to agree that additional minor problems seem to complicate things exponentially.
Glad you were able to pull on your own. I'd like to think I'd have found the handle before I "found" the ground... ;)
As always, I'm glad to hear I'm not the only person who's bungled an AFF lesson or two. said...

Great drawings. I would like to post some [if that's ok with you] on my own page which might interest you.


Namowal said...

Thanks, d.spiekerman
Feel free to post links to my blog on your facebook duck page. I'm flattered. :D