Friday, February 03, 2012

Skydiving Duck: Who's the Dummy?

If your jumps go well today, I promised myself, you can buy your own altimeter.  After all, I was more than half way towards my "A" license.  Maybe it was time to start getting my own equipment.
 I was still nervous in the plane.  I still flopped a bit after exiting.   The funny thing was, instead of thinking Oh no!  I'm upside down!  I thought That's no big thing.  I can right myself.  And I did.
My tracking was getting better.
I pulled on time and kept an eye on the landing area.
I remembered how close I'd came to the runway during my last landing.  I didn't want that to happen again!   I made sure my downwind approach was further east...
...downwind, crosswind, final... wow, maybe I overdid it on the "further east" thing.  I was going to land east of the landing area.  Oh well, at least I knew how to do a standup landing now.
I flared, stood up and...
 ...thunk!  Fell forward on my knees, hard.  
Huh?  How'd that happen?  So many of my earlier landings had been so soft.  Was it the new lines on the student canopy?
Stop blaming the parachute and try again, I told myself.  And this time, try to land correctly.  In the landing area, perhaps.
My second jump went like the first one.  Unimpressive exit, improved tracking, pulled on time, etc...  Now to land properly.  
Okay, I thought.  Let's do the downwind leg a bit closer than last time so you don't land in the sticks again.
I went downwind, turned crosswind and...
...Damn!  I was too close to the runway again!
You idiot!  I thought, cutting the crosswind leg short.     The landing pattern isn't that complicated!   Why have you been screwing it up lately?
Then final approach came.  Toggles up, toggles up, don't flare too high, flare half way, all the way... ...hey I was still coming in like a freight train.  I PLF'd hard and came to a stop.

Well, that was train wreck, I thought.
Three other students landed nearby.  As we were shuttled back to the DZ, one of the employees told us he'd like a word with "The person who did a 180 degree turn instead of a normal pattern."
180 degree turn?  I thought.  Ha!  At least someone was worse than me.  I'm glad he didn't get in my way...
But soon enough it became clear who the rogue jumper was. 
Can you guess who it was?

My shortened base leg (to miss the runway) was the 180 degree turn!  My "let's make sure you don't land out again" downwind approach was way too close to the center of the landing area (instead of off to the side, where I belonged).  My error was pointed out politely, but I was furious with myself.  Just furious.
I didn't go home with a new altimeter that day.  I didn't deserve one yet.


LeanderBuscus said...

Long adventure, yay!

So what did you do wrong? Why do you have those hard landings? If you haven't spoke with your instructor yet, you should. Maybe he can help you with it.

Landings are the #1 incidents. You better be careful.

Great drawings and niceley told!

GhostBuild said...

Wow! You've been continuing to skydive! My compliments to you. I see your inner critic has been pretty harsh, but this is still really amazing. I think you deserve the altimeter on the basis that you keep coming back, rather than never do it again.

I tried this in SL, but I have a suspicion that the feel isn't quite the same ;-)

LeanderRandom said...

Don't be so hard on yourself! It's fun, not work!

Now, go buy yourself an altimeter. You deserve it :)

Namowal said...

I'm not sure what I did wrong. I suspect after landing "off" the first time I overcompensated and ended up doing the downwind leg too close to the center of the landing area (as opposed to the edge).
It made me mad because I'm somewhat paranoid about canopy collisions to begin with. So it was sorta like someone afraid of fire discovering that he left the stove on. D'oh!
Since then I've made some better landings, so maybe the bungled incidents were lessons in what not to do. :)

Hi there!
Yep, I'm still at it. The "this is fun" factor is slowly overriding the "This is scary factor."
Of course, if you'd told me a year ago that I'd be doing this I'd have said "Yeah, right! That'll be the day!"

MikeJD said...

Hey there.

Everyone who's been jumping for a while has stuff they've done that made them cringe in retrospect :). If they haven't, it's because they were too thick-skinned to notice - or too arrogant to acknowledge - their mistakes.

I know it's in your nature to sweat the small stuff, but try not to. Some of the skydivers I most admire gleefully tell stories about their personal screw-ups. They really do happen to the best of us, and it's what you do with the experience that counts.

I agree with Leander - you should treat yourself to that new alti regardless, if you haven't already, since it sounds like you need cheering up. Your rewards for getting things right aren't new toys - they're being safe and enjoying your jumping. And your inner critic is so fond of beating you up that I don't think you need to punish yourself further ;).

Oh, I nearly forgot the pictures! Great, as ever. But I hope we get to finish with a happy duck next time. Maybe a happy duck admiring a new altimeter.

Wolf River Joe said...

Ok, so you were "politely informed" of your landing pattern deficiencies. You know perfectly well that they do that to try to make you safer. Both for yourself and for everyone else in the air with you.
Getting the hang of the landing pattern can be a challenge. You have to learn how to compensate for the effects of the wind on your ground track. It isn't the easiest thing to do. It takes practice, and you only get one try per jump (just like landing).
Swapping around canopies (and new linesets) can be frustrating. For real consistency in landings, you will do better if you are under the same wing each time.

I think a new altimeter would be a nice gift to yourself. You may not have done as well as you would have liked, but you've done pretty good overall.
You need to be aware of your inner critic, especially when it comes to safety, but I think you need to find a way to get him (her? it?) to tone it down.
Maybe a nice bop in the beak would do it :)

Namowal said...

MikeJD and Wolf River Joe,
Thanks for the encouragement!
The good news is I did two decent (not perfect, but better than before) jumps yesterday. Details coming soon to a blog near you. :)