After a person connects the dots from A to B and knows that it is true, a wise man might say that the opposite inverse is also true. I won’t try to explain that to you now, though it’s really just another way to say “Therefore, C must also be true”.
The only skydives I regret, are the ones I have not yet figured out how to write the story, that isn’t to say the story won’t be written to #5, or even #500.. just not yet. However, to avoid having to write really good stories about jumps far past; This year, I will do my best to write about each and every jump, for as long as I can keep up with them.
After another long winter it was nice to be back at the dropzone. Some might say – myself at least – a day as grand as this one could only be created by SkyGod himself: an early April day with blue skies and calm winds from sunrise to sunset.
#516 - First jump was a re-currency two-way with Mini-me – no, not my mini-me’s, but I’m sure you all know who I’m talking about. We turned a few points by plan, then also by plan, separated for few fun backflips and such. Canopy flight was good, though my landing was long, I am glad I have all year to work on accuracy!
#517 – A seven way.. this jump will be written about in much more detail later. For now I’ll simply say that it was a learning experience for myself. I’ve got a few people to talk to first.. but I think the key is that I should never let a single dissenting opinion overrule a majority vote. Observation will only take a person so far in life, then action is required. I have to find a few new books to read, but I’ll be prepared for the situation next time.
#518 – My first student of the year, a truly colorful person. This person did very well in the air, smiled consistently and moved forward with ease, though had some difficulty arching. After a full video debrief, I was able to see her knees were placed just barely wide enough to prevent the flexibility required in the hips. I believe her next jump will be fantastic with this new information, also by the information she shared with me.
#519 – Next I was able to do a recurrency jump with one of the biggest butterflies which I have even flown with. This jumper set a new definition for “graceful exit”: A willing exit from an aircraft in which you recover perfectly. I have no doubt that in the years to come, this jumper will become a new authority in the various methods to achieve slow flight.
#520 – Finally, I ended the day with another recurrency jump. This jumper was one of my classmates in the Brian Germain canopy course last year and had obviously learned very much from him. After a wonderful skydive and canopy flight, she landed with such grace, she had to stop and curtsey for the camera!
All in all, another absolutely wonderful day at the dropzone. Ahh, 2012 is good year.
The “beer rules” are well known in our sport.. almost so much, I’m surprised they’re not written in the SIM. However, there are a few points that seem to be commonly debated. Perhaps least importantly.. and yet the topic of this post.. the number of bottles in a “case” of beer.
Personally, I always thought this was a mute point.. though, as I see the discussion over and over again, I thought I’d put in my two cents.
1. A case of beer has 24 bottles. Not 6, 12 or 18.
2. If a Skydiver tells you that you owe beer, you do. Denial causes another case owed.
3. There is a beer rule tribunal process, however it costs you more beer than it saves.
4. Those bottles should be handed out to the 23 people you wish to celebrate with.
5. If you owe beer due to a fuck up, accept their advice for your beer foul.
6. A six-pack is not even close, if that’s “all they had”, you’d better buy four of them.
7. Don’t open a beer until last load is airborne, unless you are the “beer sacrifice”.
8. Upon landing last load, someone needs to make sure the pilot gets a beer.
9. There is a maximum of one case of beer owed per skydive attempt.
10. Yes, you can owe beer even if no skydive occurs.
11. This is not the “beer rule” list, just a few clarifications.
12. A twelve pack is NOT a case of beer.. you’re only half way there…
13. If you don’t know what the “beer rules” are, just ask (only costs one case of beer).
14. A true skydiver, would call a beer rule on himself and just bring a case.
15. The local beer gnome (keeper of the beer board) gets a beer from every case.
16. A true skydiver, probably waits until the beer gnome makes him buy beer.
17. Beer bottles don’t pick themselves up. Do your part douchebag.
18. Ahh.. “the 18-pack”.. nope, close but not quite.. get two of them.
19. The “skydived again before beer rule was called” rule does not always apply.
20. Yes, if you really don’t drink beer, you can bring a case of whatever you do drink.
21. However, you still have to bring a case of beer for everyone else.
22. The beer rules are a self-fulfilling prophecy, if you bring it, we will drink it.
23. The intent of ”beer rules” is simple: bring beer, share with friends and… that’s it.
24. Yes, you’ve finally got it. 24 bottles is a case of beer. Always, no exceptions.
There is a lot to be said for any cut-a-away situation. Personally speaking, like any incident, I like to learn from the situations other people get into and learn from them. Hopefully, someone may learn from my experience. Firstly, let me say that I took a course of action, which allowed me to land safely and now, years later, write this article about it. In hindsight though, I would have changed just a few simple things.
The first thing I would change is a part of gear I was missing that day. I did not have an essential piece of equipment, an Automatic Activation Device – also know as an AAD. I had just bought my first rig and thought it would okay to save a few bucks and jump without one. Luckily I had a DZO like Franz that knew better and after told me I was required to have one until I had 500 jumps – sidenote: I wonder if he knew by 500, I would know why I wanted one? To be sure, I can tell you that although it didn’t actually make a difference on that jump, or on any jump I’ve had yet so far, it was one thought that I didn’t need in my mind in the 1/4 second between red and silver.
The one thing I wish I could change, that would have made a difference: I should have enjoyed the ride. I had exited the Cessna (oh.. Delta) at 5,500 feet and pulled at 4,500. It was my first jump on my new rig (a Vector II, Sabre I 190 and PD193 for only $1200, thanks again Mark!) and I’m glad I was on a solo jump and had pulled higher than my normal opening altitude. I can clearly remember the shape of the canopy as it began to inflate; U-shaped, pulled tight in the middle with both end cells out in front. I wasn’t as sure then as I am now – that canopy long retired, but only after I put another 100 jumps on it – but there was no chance that it was going to fly.
I logged that I chopped and pulled my reserve at 3200 feet and I was sitting in the saddle by 2800. I recall that opening, visualizing the pictures I was shown in my FJC and I instantly reacted as I was trained. What I did not do, was breath, relax and think about this situation. Granted, at my frantic pace I did respond accordingly, but I could have done better. I was well above my decision altitude, this was a low-speed malfunction and I was not spinning. I could have taken advantage of the 700 feet I had to spare, easily 15 seconds of safety to better plan my next move. In hindsight, I could have enjoyed my, hopefully only, opportunity to fly under a busted wing.
Of course, had I taken advantage of the time I had and not rushed into executing my emergency procedures, I could have done them more slowly and more correctly: I would have held onto my handles! All in all, I am proud of that jump, as I am with all so far – even my mistakes have been learning opportunities. I would never wish for a cut-a-way, but I am glad I got it out-of-the-way early and as the fresh jumper I was then, I made a series of choices that allowed me to land safely on the ground.
Now, with more than 10 times the number of jumps, sure there are some things I would do differently, but in the same situation (minus the bad AAD choice I had made) I would be happy if any student responded the same – as you’re trained: Was it there? Yes. Was it square? No, execute emergency procedures. However, I could have been more aware of the altitude I had to spare and taken a second to smile and enjoy the ride.
[editors note: if writing about a jump that didn't happen was hard, writing a post without experience would be damn near impossible. As with any skydiving topic I believe, an experienced jumper will talk your ear off about a discipline they truly enjoy. Lesson here, if you don't know.. just ask someone that does. Thank You Garet, your input was invaluable. O'my]
haha. I could discuss this topic for days. Especially since I was the role model of a skydiver entering the freeflying discipline at a very low jump number. I’m no expert, but I’ll give some of my input..
Before I thought about freeflying …I participated in some 4-way RW, I was without a doubt the least experienced jumper on the dives. It went great, everyone flew their slots and we turned multiple points. That being said I felt confident in my skills and wanted to take the next step to freeflying. I did my first sit-fly around 50 jumps with an experienced freeflyer. Without a doubt made him work to chase me around the sky….
Looking back, I definitely could have spent more time working on flat flying but was anxious to move onto other disciplines. I believe that it’s extremely important for students to realize how much flat flying will help them in the future. The best skydivers in the world can fly in any orientation and go in any direction. The biggest thing with jump numbers is awareness. Each and every jump you become more aware of your surroundings. In freeflying, things happen much faster and you can generate a lot of power. When you add multiple inexperienced jumpers freeflying, things can go wrong quickly. I always suggest when people first start freeflying is to do 2-ways with the other jumper being experienced. Keep things small and simple, progressively adding more difficulty to the jump as your skills build. Having someone relative is whats going to help you learn faster. Jumping with people better than you will also make you a better skydiver.
All in all, every person is different and learning curves are different for every single person. I spent countless hours doing my homework studying videos, reading blogs, talking to world class freeflyers, and asking questions to learn everything I possibly could about freeflying. With hard work and some athletic ability thats how freeflying clicked so quickly for me. I would also like to thank any jumpers who took the time to jump with me teaching me what they knew. Some jumpers may have the skill ability to take on freeflying at a low jump number, to some it may take a while. Just remember that you’re not gonna be an expert after 1 jump. It takes time!
The overall answer to all of this is get in a wind tunnel! That is honestly the best advice I can give for someone wanting to learn freeflying. Jump numbers don’t matter as much when you have hours in the tube. I learned more in 1 hour of tunnel time than I did in 500 jumps…
For a post I said I didn’t enjoy writing, I sure did write a lot, over 900 words! You can see the original here. I think there is an important message here, so I have edited for increased clarity. Thank you Montana for pointing out my mistake! Here is a remake of my original post, in the spirit of… Just the facts, ma’am.
1. Jump 321a did not happen. The plane went up and then landed, no exit’s occurred.
2. At 6000 feet, the Jump Master opened the door for the first hop-n-pop scheduled to exit the plane. He relayed to the pilot that there was a complete and total cloud cover and that the jumper could not exit with the current conditions.
3. Rather than allowing clear communication between the Jump Master and the Pilot, some jumpers debated the situation below the plane – even though only the Jump Master was in a place (with his head outside of the door) to know the conditions.
4. I interpreted this debate as “heated”, as their was no order and each person seemed only to attempt to over-speak each other, as if the loudest opinion would be correct.
5. The Pilot did sharply quiet the passengers by announcing he was landing the plane.
In any situation, I feel communication between the Jump Master and the pilot is essential. Though this was a non-emergency situation, I believe it shows a breakdown in the chain of command of the plane, at that time.
I am unsure exactly why the Pilot choose to land the plane, either because he had finally heard and understood the Jump Masters appraisal of the conditions, or if was simply perturbed by the “heated” debate aboard the plane.
In summary, if you’re not the Pilot or the Jump Master (or an Instructor relaying instructions to your own Student), I recommend, in any similar situation, to stay quiet and allow the “powers that be” decide the matter at hand. If you’ve got another opinion, bring it up when you’re back on the ground.