My inner critic played dirty. He split into two and heckled me from different angles:
I felt like a kid riding the bike without training wheels when I grabbed the rental parachute and put it on by myself. Within a half hour I was at altitude, in the doorway, looking down.
The first few seconds out are still a bit overwhelming...
...then there I was- back in the alternate universe of freefall. I rolled over by mistake but righted myself. Then I played "watch the altimeter and practice your turns."
The chute opened without trouble and soon I was in my landing pattern. Would I flare too high? Too low?
I know I'm supposed to flare when I get about ten to fifteen feet above the ground, but it's hard to measure when it's zooming at me like a freight train.
Toggles up, toggles up, I thought, mimicking what had squawked through the radio on my earlier jumps, not yet, not yet, feet together... I could see individual weeds zipping by ...Flare half way... all the way, hold it...
My solo wasn't fearless or flawless, but I'd done it. I couldn't believe it.
To find out what happened on my second solo, click here.