Yeah, I get that I have a parachute on and should be able to save myself if I fell out, but it still freaks me.
Guess who's not a natural at this?
Guess who also still exits the plane like this?
And then there's the landings. They often look like this...
but sometimes I... ...land standing up. Whoohoo! Okay, this is something many of my peers have mastered in their student days... ...but for me it's a treat.
I try to be safe. I fear "stealth goof ups"- that is, doing something bad without noticing it. A recent lowish pull comes to mind. This makes me mad on two counts- I've done something wrong and put myself (or others) in potential danger. Not safe. Not cool.
Recently I was planning my landing pattern when I noticed the wind sock at a right angle to its usual position. We're supposed to land perpendicular to the runway, and that's the way the wind usually blows. Not today.. What to do? Follow the rules and find out what a crosswind landing was like? Or do a pattern lined up with the wind?
Whatever you do, I thought, stay out of everyone's way! No surprise turns. No cutting people off. Got that?*
I looked around. I was at the far end of the DZ. My only neighbors in the sky were a pair of hawks. They were flying with the windsock.
Okay, I thought, if the hawks know what to do...
Downwind... crosswind... into the wind... toggles up... toggles up... flare half... all-the-way...
Wow! I landed a stand up landing!
The shuttle van drove up. Lisa, the driver said:
"Lucky," Lisa continued. "You got to fly with the hawks!"
I may be a lucky duck, but it seems I'm also a nervous, high strung one. The feedback I get from the many coaches who put up with me is "Relax!"
Even a lot of my tunnel time is devoted to relaxing.
I usually jump with other people. We attempt some formations. I'm usually the one who ends up too high or backslides away. Even when I get close, I have trouble docking. On a recent jump I found myself level with another diver. Would I be able to grab his grips without backsliding?
Calm down! I reminded myself. Relax...
It worked! I was able to dock.. Then let go and was able to dock in a second formation. This is very basic stuff, but for me it was a miracle. I couldn't believe it. Maybe I could be a decent skydiver after all...!
*for non-skydiving readers both canopy collisions and low turns (to avoid them) are very dangerous.