Would today be the day I did the grad jump and get my "A" license?
Fellow students had theirs. What was taking me so long?
There were signs I'd need more work. Recent coach jumps (more than required) showed my stability and docking needed work. To help things along, I'd spent ten more minutes in the wind tunnel, where I was stable.
"Is this your grad dive?" my DZ friends asked.
"It is if I pass it!" I said.
But would I pass?
As I waited for my instructor, something spooky glided across the landing area. A dust devil!
Minutes later, student jumps went on hold thanks to unpredictable winds.
A mock up, hanging three ring release gizmo stood nearby. I was surprised nobody was using it. With my instructor's permission, I played with it.. Pull the red handle, pull out the lines- clink! Reassemble, repeat.
I repeated the dive plan in my head as the plane gained altitude: Exit with the instructor, dock, follow the instructor up or down, dock two more times, break off by 6000, track away, pull by 4500. This was doable.
We left the plane.
I found myself on my back. I flipped myself in place. Time to dock, I thought. Then I flipped over again. What was going on!? I was fine in the tunnel. Why was I getting more unstable in the sky?
I knew better than to get upset. I got stable, docked...
The needle had passed 6000. Break away! Track away!
Ah well, I thought. I didn't get the three docks in but at least I got two of them. Maybe next time I'll pass.
My landing was soft and could have been a standup, but guess who tripped? Then a gust inflated the canopy and dragged me across the landing area like a sack of potatoes*
My instructor would have passed me with only two docks, but my late break off and pull had pushed me into DoOverville. (She didn't use the term "DoOverville").
Fair enough. As much as I wanted the "A", I wanted to earn it properly. If I needed a few more attempts to master the routines, then that's how it went.
Then I saw it:
My instructor played back the video she'd taken of me with the helmet cam. I couldn't believe how sloppy my form was. I looked like I was doing a Jerry Lewis routine.
But how do I get more stable?
I knew from earlier dives and the tunnel that I was capable of being stable. What was going wrong in the sky?
* I might have prevented the whole ride if I'd pulled one of the steering toggles down to begin with.