I hop into a suit. As if I wasn't perspiring enough before... At least we're all in the same, uh, boat.
Flips, barrel rolls, tracking this way and that. I make it a point to keep my legs out where they belong, and keep remembering "thumbs in ears"...
Pulling a little high, I touch down a mere seven meters past my target.
Stretch, our pilot, takes the trusty Otter to Monterey for the X-Games skysurfing events. This means we'll have to settle for the long rides up in the DC-3. Heh heh.
Kathy has hooked me up with an East Bay guy named Stacy. He had set up a two-way with Tom, and is ready to count me in. We're all double-digit-jump wonders, so it looks like an educational time will be had by all.
We dirt-dive a simple pattern - out the door "docked" onto each other's shoulders, stabilize, switch grips to forearms. A "star" formation of sorts. (Maybe the half-cocked legs...?). Then we'll break and do 360's, rejoin, break and turn again.
Sounds basic enough. I still imagine kicking both of 'em in the head...
Better yet, I'm the "base" - the fixed point upon which our trio will revolve. The other guys would rather catch me than wait for me to catch them. Fair enough.
After a couple dozen mental drills, the big plane levels off. Clumps of divers fling themselves out the door.
And then it's our turn. Stacy and Tom ease their way outside, hanging onto the rail and each other. I take hold of their chest straps and nod nice and big. "Ready -", nod, "Set -", nod, "Go!"
And we do.
Bobbing around for a while... Wait a minute, here. We don't seem to be levelling off. After a few seconds, Tom pulls away, then Stacy. Okay, we'll regroup...
Next thing I know, one of 'em is above me and west, and the other is way above and to the east. I try to slow down my fall rate - are my legs out? Yeah, good - and turn toward Tom.
I almost get him, and then he disappears - whup, but here comes Stacy...
At about 6,000 feet we give it up. Stacy waves off. I fade back to the west and pull at 3,500, (ulp) forgetting to wave off first.
Then, maybe a half-minute later, it hits me - I'm the base. The one who's supposed to stay put (as best he can) so the others have a destination. I'd completely forgotten this. So their goal kept moving around on 'em...
Distracted by my incompetence, I'm still too far west at 1,000 feet. Instead of over- or undershooting, I land fifty meters south of my windsock.
"Dumb, dumb, dumb," I mutter. Stacy shrugs. Nothing quite like chasing a mobile anvil... but they weren't really making it to each other, either. Oh well.
I find out later this was Stacy's 50th jump... and here we let it sneak past us without throwing so much as a slice of pie or a tart at him.
25 June. No hot two-way prospects, but I figure it's not 'cause word has gotten around.
Up in the King Air, and out...
Concentrating on a good arch, and mindful of where my limbs are, I run through the usual moves. A barrel roll goes kinda screwy, but I rein it back in. And, since I have some time left, I remember something I overheard last week about doing a "head-down"...
I look at the ground, and let my head drop. The wind tilts me - over. Hmmm. Arch and settle down, then repeat... For part of a second, I'm upside down - on purpose, yet! - and then my wayward legs catch air again, and I'm on my back, squirming around. Well, it's a start.
My last turn is late. Fifty-three meters past the goal...
The winds have been around four miles an hour. I'm beginning to wonder if all that spring bluster has ruined me. Time to work out my landing strategy again.
At least I can settle down quickly between moves. I give the ol' head-down posture a couple more tries, with predictable results.
I pull at 3,500 - slam! Ow. Study that canopy. Looks okay. That was the hardest opening I've had. Neither of the chutes I usually use had been repacked, so I'd grabbed another 230 with a smaller harness. One I've used before, though. That was a wakeup-deployment...
Time to end the day on a good note. And, somehow, I do - only nine meters shy of the relaxed windsock. Yay. I need more landings like this, within ten meters...
26 June. A little less wind.
In addition to the usual, I point my head down - holding on for an entire second, once. Then I just tumble around, for fun.. Seeing how quickly I can arch my way out of it. Try some turns, counting how long it takes to stop turning...
I was quicker yesterday. In more ways than one. Thinking too much, I make my last spiral too small, again, and overshoot by a dismal 155 meters.
O-kay, it'd be hard to land any further out on a calm day.
Time to improve my RW "skills" too. I get hooked up with Robert. We work out a simple order of business, dirt-dive it and get on board.
Ready set go - Exit docked, and we flatten out pretty quickly. This is encouraging. Then he lets go of my right arm, but stays clamped onto my left - and we start to spin...
Experienced readers know where this is going. A "helicopter." Robert thought I knew what this was. Well, you only learn once. We spin - which would be fun, if you knew it was coming - and break. I look overhead for him - whoa, he's under me. I'm not "outfalling" him? Right. I turn, de-arch, and track -
And it works. Yeah. I slap his leg - and keep going, turn around. Not quite as satisfying as docking with him would be, but still this is the most directional control I've had since the video jump with Tahoe, number seventeen...
I manage to end up under him, and he wisely waves off. Are my legs out? Apprarently not enough...? Check the altimeter - 3,000 already. How'd that happen? Wave fast, and pull.
Gotta watch that altitude. I hold that thought and watch where I'm going...
South of the target again, but only twenty meters. I walk over to where Robert landed, and start rehashing it all.
More than I knew before. Bit by bit.
Jump 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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