Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Drop, Flop, then Hop & Pop

I still get nervous on the drive to the drop zone.  I still get nervous  on the ride to altitude.  Maybe I need more practice.  Maybe the "common sense" part of my brain still isn't cool with jumping out planes.  Oddly, once I'm in the doorway, I'm ready.  The drop which  onced scared me silly was getting fun.
My exit was a bit floppy.  As usual.  What was I doing wrong?  Maybe I should get a video of the next jump, I thought.
I knew a video would be wise after the landing.  I'd hoped for a stand up one...
 ...but it didn't happen.
 I did take out some weeds.  Maybe a gopher too.
 I was steamed.  What was going on?  I was defiantly getting the next jump videoed.
 And while I'm at it, I thought, let's get that Hop & Pop* out of the way.
 The Hop & Pop scared me.  Exiting at a lower altitude was adding another monkey to the Barrel of What Could Go Wrong?  And my exits were still unstable!  What if I couldn't get myself in the right position by pull time?  What if I got tangled up in the parachute?
Calm down, I thought.  Just tell the instructor about your exits.  If he thinks it will be a problem, he'll let you know.
Soon I was back on the plane for a ride to 5000 feet.  I liked that the waiting time on the plane was shorter- less worry time.  As for my exits, the instructor was confident that I'd be stable in time- and had his camera ready to catch it.
The green light came on.  I dove out and...
 flipped on my back.  Uh oh.
 I wasn't scared(!).  I turned myself over, got stable and pulled.
The chute popped out and I was on my way to the landing area.
Between my recent crashes and the botched landing pattern of the previous week, I figured I'd learn a lot from seeing it taped.  I'd discover all sorts of "I didn't know I was doing that!" stuff.
My touchdown was another crash.
I picked myself up and headed toward the instructor.
"You did great" he said.
 Huh?  His camera was aimed at me, wasn't it?
"Are you kidding?" I said.  "I crashed and had to do a PLF"
"That happens sometimes when there's no winds," he said.
 It turned out that my landing was fine.  The pattern was good.  I flared at the right time, and landed the best I could with the wind.
I couldn't believe it!
I went to the shop and bought a shiny turquoise blue altimeter.
 Next week I returned to the drop zone, ready for action.
Okay, I was still a bit nervous, but I wanted to jump with my new "toy"!
Alas, it was too cloudy and breezy for student jumps. It was chilly too.   I hung around anyway.   There were quizzes to take, the SIM to study, people to talk to, and a nice fire. 

Here's the  video of my exit,  in case you want to see me drop from a plane.  It wasn't as floppy as I remembered it (though I did flip over at some point.) 
I haven't uploaded the landing yet, but check back later.

*in this context, a Hop & Pop is a practice emergency exit where the student leaves the plane at a lower altitude.  It's one of the things required for getting your license.
**SIM = Skydivers Information Manual


Anonymous said...

Stop being so bloody hard on youself J :)
Remember time in sport, is VERY low you are where you should be ;)

LeanderRandom said...

N't it great when everything is finally coming together?

Great to hear it was just the wind, otherwise you would have had to learn landing all over again.

Congrats on your new altimeter! You either already knew the color you wanted, or you already bought it when you made your previous blog ;) Good job

Leandercool said...

Whoops, I mean *isn't it*. Silly Iphone.
Sorry for the double post!

Namowal said...

Hard on myself? I thought I was going easy on myself. Guess I'd better dial back the criticism a bit further still. I don't want to shoot myself in the foot with a bad attitude.
I'd been eyeing the blue altimeter (or one that looked like it) behind the counter for some time. When I put a picture of it on Facebook (w/o explaining what it was), someone commented "[what ever that thing is] goes up to eleven..."

Linda Davick said...



That gopher is too funny. Love the story about what leads up to marching into the shop and buying the shiny turquoise blue altimeter, and love the illo of that nice fire.

Namowal said...

It used to really freak me out when I saw other jumpers dropping from the plane like that. They "shrunk" so fast!
I'd be thinking "I'm supposed to do that? No way!"
Funny thing is, when you leave the plane yourself the ground doesn't seem to zoom up at all. It's like you're hovering in the breeze.
As for the fire illo, I originally had more details in the background (which took time to draw because I used perspective), but I found it distracting and swapped it for a gradient.

CodeFarmer said...


There is only one tiny thing in your exit that made you unstable, and your instructors will no doubt point you in the right direction next time (hint) :)

Please please please keep doing these, I want them for my own students.

Namowal said...

Thanks, Codefarmer,
You want to show these to your students? I'm flattered!
When I first started the skydiving cartoons I thought part of the fun was the fish-out-of-water thing. Here I was,-the high strung, easily frightened klutz- attempting a daredevil sport!
But so many people wrote saying "I remember going through that" or "I was like that."
Maybe learning to fall through the sky makes everyone a "fish out of water."

Wolf River Joe said...

Nice!! Congratulations on buying the first thing on a very long (and expensive) list of gear.

It's always funny to hear AFF students look out the door from 5000' and say "It looks so low. I went through the static line progression and 5K was higher than what I was used to. 10K was really up there.

Namowal said...

Wolf River Joe,
Thanks. I still can't believe I'm actually buying gear. First I bobbed my hair to keep it in the helmet and now this. What happened to the days of "Well, maybe I'll try the AFF level 1 just to say I did it...?"'

Interesting about how static line training puts a different perspective in what's high and low. 10k must have seemed like the stratosphere!

Leander said...

I just read through your AFF and tandem blogs, again. It's giving me the same thrill over and over again.

And i quote this: "I'm looking forward to the day that I can ride the plane to altitude without being all nervous!" (aff level 2) - How's that going? :)

Namowal said...

I've done 25 jumps (haven't done the "graduation to A license" one yet, and am running behind on my blog.). Flying to altitude is mucheasier than it used to be. I still get a little nervous, but it's not the I'm in front of a firing squad fear I used to have.

Anonymous said...

I was started to get worried about the lack of blogging. Then again, it takes time to make, and im an impacient fellah sometimes ;) try not to rush youself ^_^

and hey, there's a lot of blue sky, waiting to be jumped.

Namowal said...

Thanks for your concern. I've been busier than usual with work (working late, working weekends etc..) so I haven't had the time I normally have to work on it. As you probably guessed from my previous comment, I have managed to work a few jumps in. Hope I get that "A" soon!