Sunday, January 22, 2012

Skydiving Duck: Screwing Up and Standing Up

I was proud of my previous jump. I'd done my first stable exit and was ready to repeat the trick. After all, I was getting better, right?
I walked to the door, looked down, got into position, dove and...
...flopped around like a paper bag in the breeze.  Whoops.
I got stable, practiced some tracking, pulled on time, and checked to make sure the canopy was steerable.  It was.  
Hey, this is pretty neat, I thought.  I can see the freaking ocean!   I never noticed that before.
I started to sing...
...but my common sense put a stop to that within seconds.
So it was back to keeping an eye out for other jumpers and staying in the holding area.
As I got closer to my entry pattern, I spotted two flags in the (student) landing area.
See those flags?  I told myself.  You're going to land right between them.  Its not windy at all, so your downwind and final approaches should be about the same size.  So enter the pattern near the flags and you'll end up between them.
The downwind approach went great, but my final approach seemed too close to the runway.
You idiot!  I thought.  Get away from that thing before the plane comes!

But now I was too low to turn away further.  Turning makes the parachute dive.  When you're low, the ground is included in said dive.  Instead I tugged lightly at one toggle until I eased away from the runway.   This was good, except now I was heading for the wind tetrahedron.
You're a menace!  I thought.  Can't you do anything right?
I knew better than to fix my eyes on the tetrahedron.  Instead I focused on a patch to the left and gently steered away.  Soon the ground zoomed up, I flared and...
...I was standing!  My first stand up landing!  The jump wasn't a total loss.
Then again, I managed to get my foot caught in the parachute lines as I boarded the shuttle back to the drop zone buildings.  Tsk tsk.  I should know better by now.

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...