Thursday, January 12, 2012

Skydiving Duck: Getting Better (Sorta)

Here's how I think of skydiving most of the time:
This attitude can change the morning of a jump:
That being said, I'm slowly getting better.
Jump #15 was a coach jump.   I hadn't jumped with this instructor before, but my rep as the problem student who sabotages jump run by door hesitation had reached him.   "Remember," he politely repeated as we flew to altitude, "Follow me to the door right away, OK?"
Soon it was our turn.  I was proud that I got in the doorway (and out of the plane) without stalling.  I would have been prouder if my exit hadn't looked like this:
I was flopping around like a Sea Monkey again.  I got stable a few seconds later.  The goal of this jump was to control my falling rate to keep up with the instructor.  Subtle changes in body position make you fall faster or slower.  I was so-so at it.  After the jump I got a peek at the video.   My legs were bent way too much.  This sent me backwards like a fleeing lobster. 
Afterwards the instructor gave me some suggestions, including some exercises to improve both my leg position and my tracking ability.
After a week of practice, I was back in the doorway at 12500 feet.  This time for a solo jump.  I dived out the door and...
...Holy Geez !  I was stable!  No flips, no rolls!
I tried some tracking.  Legs straight, arms back, body position like in the exercises...
Wow!  I was going straight.   I was Superduck!  Or at least Getting-Better-at-This Duck.  
Could it be?  Maybe it was possible that I'd someday get good at this sport?
Now for a stand up landing...
Not this time either.
That's okay.    Superduck needs to remember that there's a lot more to learn...


Linda Davick said...

I have a big grin on my face all the way through this ---and the illustrations are beautiful, even the knee-landing.

Namowal said...

Thanks, Linda.
For most of the pics I tried to cram in some golden section geometry in the composition. Maybe it payed off? :)

Leander said...

I agree with linda: I had a smile across my face when it all started working out. Keep up the good work, Superduck!

15 jumps go fast eh? ;)

MikeJD said...

Yay for stable exits! Feels good, hmm? :)

This post was all about the facial expressions for me - every one made me smile.

I was in the wind tunnel at the weekend - best place to be during a UK winter - but your drawings make me long to be in the air again. Yes, even the ones featuring malfunctions, skulls and crossbones and knee landings! :)

Namowal said...

Thanks, Leander :)

You're right about the jumps going fast. I still remember my earliest days when I had 2-3 jumps and being impressed that another student had 10-15 jumps.

Let's hope the "stable exit" thing is a continuing trend for me. It really was a turning point- from "Holy !#%! I just jumped out of an airplane" to "Holy !$@! I'm stable! Stable!"

Have fun in the wind tunnel!

LeanderRandom said...

You just made me clear that being unstable is all part of the learning. It's normal for a beginner. You have to find the best position to fall in. It's just like cycling: You'll keep falling untill you find the point where you'll keep going. From that point you can start perfectionizing it wich takes thousands of rides.

Namowal said...

Good point with the bicycle comparison. A lot of what I've learned so far does remind me of learning to ride a bike- so many "Oh, that's how it's done!" moments.

MikeJD said...

Learning to ride a bike? So what you're saying is, your AFF instructors were just glorified stabiliser wheels? ;)


Namowal said...

Now now, my instructors were/are awesome. Very patient too, considering they had me to deal with, as I was hardly an ideal student.
Don't get them mad at me. ;)

Leandercool said...


If you compare it to cycling, they ARE your sidewheels. Once you're able to keep yourself stable you 'get rid of them' :)


Good thing you had awesome instructors!
I heard about people who had instructors who just did it for the money and didn't care about the student's feelings and what they do as long as they stay safe...
But hey, awesome people get awesome instructors! ;)

Namowal said...

"Get rid of them?" I might not leave the plane with them, but they sure come in handy for gear checks, card/log book signing, and advice. :)

LeanderPower said...

That's true: you dont jump with them anymore, but they're always there, just like your side wheels! Haha! I shall stop with the cycling comparison, before it gets too complicated ;)

Also, are you still jumping during the winter season?? Cause you number of jumps still increase.

Namowal said...

I'm in southern California so the DZ is open year around. Though lately the weather seems to be playing the "sunny on the weekdays, nasty on the weekend" games.