Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Skydiving Duck: AFF Level Six

As I work my way through AFF, my attitudes are changing:

My thoughts on the ride to altitude have been more consistent, but I'm shaking less than I used to...
All week I'd anticipated the exit to be like my previous ones:  I'd leave the plane with the instructor holding on to a jumpsuit handle.  Not so, I learned.  We'd get into the usual exit position, but I was to leave first, and he'd follow.
What!?  I thought.  Jump out of the plane unattached?  That's nuts!
Then I thought, Well, I don't see why I couldn't do it...
Soon enough I was on the plane, at altitude, stepping towards that screaming evil blowhole called "the door."   (The primitive part of my brain is still convinced that door = bad news.)   Fighting my instincts and the wind, I somehow got into position.
Ready!  Set!  Go!
Holy  Smackerel!  I thought as I flew  Did I really just jump out of the plane?  Wow!  I can do this...!
Or could I?  In seconds I was on my back.  Whoops.  Time to try out the "bring one arm in and you'll roll over" trick.  It worked.  I was back in position.  Sorta.
Out of nowhere the instructor grabbed my arm handle, gave me the Relax! signal and let go.

Oh yeah.  Relax!  I'd forgotten about that.  I relaxed (as much as I could) and found myself more stable.  From there it was easy: spin left 360 degrees stop, spin right 360 degrees, stop etc...   It was weird seeing the view twirl so fast, and even weirder to think I was causing it.

The canopy ride was uneventful.  I still haven't mastered a stand up landing, but I'm not getting bruised either.
I thought my tumbleweed exit might have disqualified me, but I passed the level.  On to level seven!


Linda Davick said...

Fantastic! Congratulations!
(Love the THEN and NOW panels.)

AHoyThere said...

Woo-Hoo!!! Nice job!!! I'm going to be sorry when you graduate and the cartoons stop.
A great new series of cartoons can start up again when you start teaching AFF.
Next time you walk to the door, just give the door a little kick while climbing into exit position. That'll teach him.

Keep having fun.

Namowal said...

Thanks, Linda.
I thought the THEN/NOW panels would be easy since they had so many repeating elements, but they actually took a lot of time to draw.

Ahoy, AHoyThere,
Who says I'll stop cartoons once I finish AFF? :) I'll still have a lot to learn, and I'll share my triumphs and screw-ups here.
p.s. Thanks for the tip about the door.

MikeJD said...


Have to agree with Linda about the 'Then' and 'Now' pictures - truly inspired, especially the mini-game of spot-the-difference in the final pair :).

I hope you're not off your rocker, by the way, because if you are then so are the rest of us. Seriously well done for persevering with this - it seems like if you haven't quite turned the fear corner yet then at least it's in view.

What kind of exit did you do? Sounds like it was your regular floating (back out) exit. Good work sorting it out, anyway. It was dive exits that it took me a long time to get the hang of. I'd flip forward and end up on my back on every one - something to do with my feet catching the slipstream - and then one wonderful day I suddenly 'got it' as though someone had flicked a switch. Funny how your body just gets a feel for something and then you can keep on repeating it.

And I liked your description of your canopy ride as 'uneventful' - those are the best kind!

Namowal said...

Thanks for stopping by!
You're correct that I haven't "turned the fear corner," yet, but jumping is much less frightening than it was in my earlier jumps. I wasn't kidding about the shaking- I really would find myself shaking on the drive over to the DZ and when I practiced the dirt dives.
I did a floating exit for this one (and for level seven, which I'm still drawing). It will be interesting to try the dive exit on level 8. Earlier on the idea of diving head first out of the plane seemed unthinkable, but now I think I can do it...
...whether or not I can do it with out tumbling is another story.

Wolf River Joe said...

These are wonderful. I'm glad to hear you plan on continuing drawing them after you get licensed.

It's your fear that makes the door so scary. Not the door itself. Maybe if you think of the door as a portal to a really wonderful place, one where you can actually fly it would help.
My fear always leaves once the door opens. Maybe it's afraid of the open door :)

Off your rocker? Maybe to some. Have you ever heard "Those who dance appear insane to those who can't hear the music"? You can hear the call of the sky. What you do seems "Off your rocker" to those who can't.

Diving exits are my favorite. There's something about going headfirst out of the plane that is really cool (maybe I'm off my rocker :)) Once you learn how to do them stable (without flipping over), then try them with a front flip or two as you go. You've already done the backflip exit on your tandem with "Cap'n Backflip", the panels describing the view alternating between the sky and the ground like a filmstrip were dead on.

Namowal said...

Wolf River Joe,
Actually I've sort of evolved a love/hate relationship with the door. My "falling is bad!" instincts still kick in, but the "it's a portal to fun!" attitude is growing. Oddly, my fear spikes when I see the people in front of me fall out of it. By the time I'm poised in the doorway, I'm ready to go. Weird, no?
I've heard other skydivers say they really like diving exits too. I guess I'll learn what the fun is about next Saturday (if it doesn't rain!) :)

Eocs said...

Been following this from :) really cool to see how ur experience with AFF is and see the videos to go with it. How many levels are there in your AFF course? Had to do 7 total here in Estonia.

Namowal said...

Thanks, Eocs,
The drop zone I go to has eight AFF levels before they let you solo. :)

MHotch said...

These cartoons are great! I started jumping about a year and a half ago. You are doing very well! It is so great you are capturing this, since you will be a pro in no time.

Getting the butterflies to fly in formation started happening to me around jump 20 or so. :)

This is like reading my first jumps in my logbook.

Namowal said...

"Pro in no time?" that's nice of you to say! Thanks!

@d0dja said...

Gripping story, like how makes you fear the door even as you sit on the couch. Nice one, hope you still jumping. I get so scared on the plane going up - just gotta keep it in. Screw psychologists man, there's a time and a place not to show panic. :)

Victoria said...

Oh my goodness, I was crying laughing so hard! I can so so relate to your experience and it is so well done! Thank you for sharing this, totally priceless! I have been cleared for my Catergory D I, so going this weekend!

Namowal (Jennifer Bourne) said...

Hi Victoria,
Thanks for reading my blog. I'm glad you liked it. Happy skydiving! :)

Tania said...

One of the guys at my DZ pointed me to your blog, as I faced the door monster this morning, with dive exit - and froze. Deer in headlights is an energiser bunny compared to me at that point. Had to take the flight of shame back down (my words, the instructor was super positive though I’m sure he was less than happy).
And then I got myself into the zone with deep breaths (to the point of hyperventilating) and some heavy metal and I was good to go - but the winds were like “cool, but no”
So now ALL I have to do is wait till next Saturday ������