Friday, December 02, 2011

Skydiving Duck: AFF Level 8

Weather and car maintenance had kept me grounded for a few weeks, but now the sun had returned.  Time to do  AFF level 8.   Could I really do all those stunts in the dive plan?  And what was this nonsense about diving head first out the door?  I didn't like diving into a pool.  How was I going to dive out of a plane?
I kept my breathing slow on ride to altitude.   Compared to my earlier jumps, I was relatively at ease...
The door seemed less threatening.  It was just... ...a door.  Outside was a view.   I was still nervous, but it wasn't unpleasant.
Then I was in the doorway.  Could I really do this?  The dive exit?  The tricks?  This was crazy!  What was I doing here?

Ready, set, go!
The dreaded dive (okay, it was more like a cartwheel-dive hybrid) was easy!  I didn't even flop around.  In retrospect, I thought "Well of course it was easy!  When you're in freefall your whole body is outside.  Who cares what part goes out first!?"
As for the dive tasks, here's how I graded myself.
  • Front Loop: A-
  • Barrel Roll: B- (crude and awkward.  Yahtzee Dice Roll is more like it)
  • 360 degree turns: C (I rushed these, body position could be better)
  • Docking onto instructor: A- (nobody got hurt)
  • Turn and Track: C- (It was close to pull altitude so I cut it short.  Better to pull on time than to track neatly into the ground.)
  • Canopy Landing B- (Who flared too high?  Tsk. Tsk.)
 The instructor signed my log book.  I'd passed level eight and was cleared to solo!
Me?  Solo?  I thought.  I couldn't do that.  I'd mess it up.  I'm not the kind of person who can...
Then I remembered those "I couldn't do that" thoughts aren't necessarily true...

Bonus Video:
I didn't tape my dive, but a tandem student sitting next to me had  her jump recorded, and you can see me leave the plane  (blue suit,  with the yellow helmet).  I'm only there for a few seconds, then the action returns to the tandem student.

(To see what happened when I tried my first solo, click here)


Wolf River Joe said...

Now you see how fun the diving exits can be. And how easy.
They can be intimidating, but as you said, once you've done one, you ask yourself "what was so bad about that?"

And now solo jumps. Without an instructor to babysit you.

You know, like a real skydiver.

Thanks as always. These are really great. It's a lot of fun to see students progress. Either in person or vicariously through your drawings.

Namowal said...

Wolf River Joe,
You're very welcome.

I actually wanted to add more pictures and details, but I ran out of time. Maybe I'll some. them this weekend if it's too windy to jump.

Thanks again!

Linda Davick said...

Amazing, amazing, amazing.

My favorite part: the gray bird with the red beak who says, "Hey, RELAX!"


MikeJD said...

I'm a bit late, but wanted to say congratulations on passing your level 8!

You'll find it very different now with nobody watching or testing you. You might even find things feel a bit 'flat' for a while - a kind of what-do-I-do-now? sense.

I'm not exactly sure how things work in the US, but you'll have a progression system of coached jumps whereby you prove you're safe to skydive with other people - but probably no need to start that straight away.

Whatever, the adventure is just beginning. :)

MikeJD said...

And d'oh! I've just this second figured out how you arrived at your nickname! :)

(MikeJD facepalms)

Namowal said...

Yep. Next time I'm on my own. After all the monkey tricks I had to do for jump 8, it will be almost a relief.

Thanks! No worries about being late to the game- I didn't jump last week because it was windy, so I'm trying for the solo this Saturday. I'm told I'll be more or less on my own, but not to try anything weird or new in the air. I'm a little concerned with botching the exit order and timing. Not that I don't know the rules, of course...
p.s. Only a handful of people have figured out my name. When I signed up for Twitter I was shocked that there was another "namowal" ( actually "namowAL") already registered. So on twitter (which I don't use much) I'm OtherNamowal.

MikeJD said...

Oh, on the topic of exit order and timing, you'll be briefed by your jumpmaster. If you're not, give him or her a gentle nudge :).

Things are a little different now because there are so many 'new' disciplines to influence exit order: for example, most DZs put freeflyers out after all of the flat flyers, and wingsuiters and tandems behind them. But when I did my first solos, it was common for newbies to be last out of the plane because of pulling high. Aside from somebody usually having to make the joke about shutting the door on your way out, I remember it feeling very odd and somewhat lonely being the only one left in the aircraft after everyone else had gone!

Namowal said...

Mike JD,
I agree it's weird to start out in a crowded plane and end up being one of the last ones out!
p.s. the solo cartoon is pending...!

Piotr Lak. said...

Thanks for writing such great texts.
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