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6 June.

Lugging half of my DC-3 beer - I may owe, but they can wait for the last half.

I'm arriving pretty late in the afternoon. All week I've had a sharp pain wrapped around my right side - pulled muscle? - and I wonder for a couple hours if a jump or two would make it worse. But hey, gotta make good with the Moosehead.

Ticket in, load assigned... to kill a few minutes, I pick up an old Parachutist. There's an article about "pilot chute in tow" - when the little round chute that we pull and throw doesn't pull the main chute out. (This is a "hand deploy", instead of the well-known ripcord.) It's a good article, addressing yet another of those nagging little fears - but they call my load before I get to a recommendation...

Turn, turn, flip - a little ragged - and I remember last week, getting the go-ahead -

Pull my right arm across my chest, bring my feet together. Barrel roll! And back to the ol' arch. Alright. I try a double, and it works. Another single. If I arch hard, get those legs out... Yeah.

And I look at the needle, see 3,700 - close enough to thirty-five. Wave off, reach and toss.


O - kay you turn a little look go for the cutaway handle pull and twist reserve handle -

On its own, my right hand wanders behind. The pull ring on the pilot chute is still there. Didn't pull it all the way out of its pouch. Try, again - and whoomp. It's a really good chute, inflating just like it's supposed to...

Coasting down to earth, I gulp a couple times - and realize I was already geared up to do the right things. No "Sh_t, whatta I do?" or "How long do I - should I wait, count to three, or what?" Faced with the possibility of a situation I've never had to deal with in realtime, the plan is right there. This feels very good.

Not that I mind putting off my first "mal". Not at all.

The wind, already around 12, gets hinky. My last turn isn't deep enough, and I'm almost backing up. Funny, it doesn't seem that windy. 57 meters shy of target.

And Bill pedals up. "That chute's too big for you..."

Grabbed the wrong size. Pete the rigger confirms - I just rode in on a 280 square foot canopy intended for someone a good bit heavier...

Before the next load, I make time to finish the article. Just in case. A tad bit concerned I'll start to read about some other situation... As in, plummeting at least 108 mph, looking up at a tight hoop of nylon and thinking, "If only I'd finished those last four paragraphs about horseshoe malfunctions..."

Not that I just experienced anything so interesting, just now, but I still doubt I'll give that ol' PC anything less that a mighty yank and heave from here on out.

Well, it'd be nice if I can get within spitting distance of my target windsock today. Not that the wind is cutting me any slack.

He flips, over and over. Stabilizing as soon as possible. I'm not wearing a flight suit this time, and I can feel the difference, uh-huh. It'd be nice to get back to the belly-down, limbs-out arch faster. Practice, practice.

A couple barrel rolls, and I wave off, reach, find the pull ring. Here goes.

The pilot chute races away, to my relief. And - yank.

I do more turns than usual, to burn altitude - under the usual PD 230 canopy again. An easy landing, eighteen meters short.

Last load of the day - but I'm going to try to be a mature adult and not push it. The weird thing is the pain didn't even cross my mind all day. Rest up, hope for the best. Don't want to be hurt worse, sitting out next weekend.

Beyond having "twenty(something)" jumps. At last.

12 June.

It's hot. My side still hurts, but like a good novice I show up with the other half of my that'sacaseofbeer. All paid up again. There's a lot of cars here, but not nearly as many bodies as there have been recently.

Flight suit, stretch... good to go.

Roll and stabilize, backflip and stabilize, turns and come back around - stop - good. I pull at 4,000, further west. On purpose. Wind's only about half of what it was last Sunday.

I'm where I want to be at 1,000 feet, but that last loop isn't far enough east to cause that groovy union of location and descent. Prudence, maybe. Or first-jump-of-the-day discretion. 58 meters too far, and that says I didn't plan well enough before I got in the Otter.

Hey, I keep forgetting to do a barrel roll to the left. So next time, I make it a point...

In the air, I sneak my left arm in - whoooooo. Now do one to the right. Then left again.

Nice, uneventful deployment. Then, more high turns to burn altitude, instead of longer zig-zags.

An okay landing, twelve meters over.

Sprawling on a couch in the hangar, reading the Skydiver Information Manual. Well over an inch of single-sided pages. And that's just the 'A' license stuff. My side is twinging a little, so I'm winding down, hanging around to see if there's a "group outing" later, catch a movieor something. A guy's running around, trying to coax people into one last load...

Bill passes by. "Why do you come here to study? This is where we skydive -"

"But it's the SIM, uh, I knew I'd have questions -"

"Study it later. Get on the load." More of an order, than a request...

Rick has offered to do a 2-way with me. Bail out together, break off, decrease and increase fall rate. Early in the day, before lots of tandems arrive. Next Saturday. Yeah. I've got a week's reprieve. Later, later. It's easy to stall. My novice-ness will never be more obvious than in relative work with instructor-poobah.

But on the way up to altitude, the guy across from me is looking for a 2-way. I thought he'd found one with a freeflyer - whew - but no. He asks me.

"Well, I'm really raw..."

"How raw?"


This courageous soul, John, has about 200 jumps. He thinks for a second, and suggests exiting separately, matching velocity, a couple turns... Bill wanders down the aisle of the plane, surely overhearing this while giving no sign that he does.

Out we go. I get stable... and see John, waaaaaay up there. Bring my arms up, thinking I'm de-arched - falling more slowly, right? -

And here's - Bill! Right in front of me. I look at John, and track toward Bill. He grabs my shoulder - about to say something? Or slowing down my fall? He doesn't seem to be opening his mouth. I break off and head for John, but he's still too high. I'm not altogether sure how to slow down that much, and altitude's running out, so I do a couple turns and wave off, pulling at 4,000.

Feeling especially dumb. Well, everybody's new at this stuff, at first. The wind's picked up a little since last time, and I overshoot again, 38 meters.

I find John first - and he'd already been found, by Bill. John says he usually drops fast, but I was plummeting like a rock. Backsliding - I struggle to remember the cause and remedy, as Bill appears in the doorway...

Arms too far out, feet on my butt, angled so the air shunts me down and back. Looking for John (and reaching) only made it worse. Still, I don't seem to be in the doghouse... and hey, I didn't kick anybody or knock out any teeth.

"Thumbs in ears," John says. Keep those hands from getting too far out there. Legs at about 135. Humbled again, I make logbook sketches. Too much, not enough, just right.

Later, we end up watching tapes of Novato public-access comedy - kudos, guys. Some great chops in there.

Glen and Charlene take us for a ride in their new motor home / future principal residence. Ten skydivers descending upon Galt... to a fast food place, since our cash has been wisely spent on boogie and jump tickets.

A loud singalong to alarm the adjacent cars, the regal Starfleet S&TA riff - and a pale moon, suddenly appearing over the RV when we make a suburban stop. Blame it on the tequila?

No, wait, false alarm. The real crescent is there, over the hangar, shift change as the sun dips past the runway and jumpers get their final razzing in before they amble on home. and Cinema Insomnia - entropic satireJump number one (tandem at Sebastian) -
Jump number two (tandem at Lodi) -
3 - 7 (starting static line) -
8 - 11 (finishing static line) -
12 - 14 - 15 - 17 - 18 - 22 - 23 - 29 - 30 - 34 - 35 - 40 - 41 - 48 - 49 - 58
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