Thursday, December 15, 2011

Skydiving Duck: Solo Time!

The sun was out. The winds were down. Time for my first solo.
My inner critic played dirty.  He split into two and heckled me from different angles:

 Compared to the AFF jumps, things were simple.  No routines, no exit practice in the mock-up.
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.
Okay, there's the airport.  No clouds--Holy geez! am I really doing this!?--no planes, no peeps.  One, two, three, go!

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... 
I planned a PLF but when my feet hit the ground they slid like I'd landed on a Slip 'n' Slide.  I came to rest gently on my back (I'll have to ask an instructor how to prevent that, since a less gentle landing like that would be trouble).
My solo wasn't fearless or flawless, but I'd done it.  I couldn't believe it.
Traditionally you're supposed to bring beer after your first skydive solo. I bought a bunch of it.  My instructors had earned it: If they could teach a high-strung, easily frightened, pain-in the-neck student like me how to do this, they can teach anyone.  

To find out what happened on my second solo, click here


Linda Davick said...

These adventures continue to be just great.

I particularly like illo #3 (with the watch) and #4 (with the feet flying up).

What a great series!

Namowal said...

Thanks, Linda.
Duck feet are defiantly fun to draw. The watch gizmo is more of a challenge. (It actually tells you how high you are so you know when to activate the parachute.)

Anita said...

Jennifer, you are so very brave, and totally wacko to jump out of a plane! ha ha! Love the illustrations, as usual, they always make me laugh!

Namowal said...

Truth be told I was scared silly when I started doing this and still get kinda nervous. So brave, no, (but wacko, yes!)

Anonymous said...

Bravery is not the absence of fear, but what you do even though you are afraid.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the solo! It's a huge psychological accomplishment. It's good that you got the priorities straight here, in the correct order:

1. Buy beer
2. Pull before you auger in


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