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I did it!!!! - The Paranoid Android
...musings of a mechanically depressed robot...
I did it!!!!
Jumping out of a completely serviceable plane, for fun - [Pt III]

Roy and I had decided if the weather was good this weekend we'd get our jump done. The forecast yesterday was brilliant, so for the second Saturday on the trot, I got up at 5:30, and was in Romford by 7:00.

It was a glorious morning, there was a little mist from the dew evaporating, but the sun would soon burn that off. We set off for Headcorn. I was nervous again. I hadn't slept that well, and I hadn't managed to get the early night I had hoped, so I was tired too. It was a stomach twisting combination. We got to Headcorn at about 8:30 and grabbed breakfast, cholesterol in a baguette.

We waited to see if Hema would turn up (she enjoyed her jump so much she was tempted to get another in!)
By 9:00 my level of unease was very high. We put our names down for a jump. Hema was not going to turn up. We got into overalls, kitted ourselves up with the training harnesses and threw ourselves out of the mock-up of the plane for 20 minutes. Then the reserve drills Malfunction!, Look, Locate, Cut-Away, Reserve, Arch I had been doing them in my sleep all night!

We were told one of the planes had developed engine problems (the big plane, not ours) but it would mean a delay to our jump as our plane would be taking up two loads of free fallers first. Just what I needed - more waiting.

This is about when it started to rain. I couldn't believe it. This weekend was supposed to have been the hottest on record, there was supposed to be clear blue skies, rain was definitely not ordered! The storm was even more of a surprise. I had visions of sitting there for half a day, and having to go home again. The weather blew over, and we had clear skies once more.

Our jumpmaster came over to us. Because of the storm, Heathrow was diverting planes in the stack to above our airspace. The jump plane would only be able to go to 3,500ft. This sounded like another delay. She continued: this mean the free fallers would not be able to go up because they need to be higher than 3,500ft. My mind was still in the "oh no - not another delay" state. She says, "So go get kitted up then!"

*S*H*I*T* ... it sinks in - *WE* don’t need to go above 3,500 ... so we are going to jump first. We'd been moved to the head of the queue, and the time of reckoning was *now*.

We kit up - the chutes weigh a ton. I have to wear goggles to stop the wind blowing my contacts out. They steam up so I can hardly see in front of my face. I would have been better taking my contacts out! We get into the mock-up again. This time it seems very cramped, the chutes take up a LOAD of space. We go through the jump order, and practice an exit.

"Are you ready" she asks.... Quite frankly I am not ready, I desperately want to shit myself.

We get in a minibus that takes us to the plane. We get in. The mock up is a very good likeness of the plane. We are cramped. The only difference is the noise: the engines are noisy, incredibly noisy. The jumpmaster is shouting out instructions to the pilot, 3,500 - 7 drops - one pass each.

The girl next to me looks white, she asks (shouting on top of her voice) am I nervous yet. *Yet*??? - I tell her I've been nervous all morning, but now I'm only petrified. We laugh, and I feel a little better - the power of laughing in the face of death!

We take off. By now the engine noise is not just loud, it's ear damagingly loud. The pilot takes some dodgy turns, and for a brief moment I can see the ground out of the open door. My mind has had enough of terror for one day and I'm now in a peaceful mood. The fields are pretty like a patchwork quilt. I can see the landing area and the big white arrow that tells us what way the wind is blowing.

I'm jumping 4th. Roy is jumping 2nd. I watch him and the other two exit the plane before me. Their exits look good, and on the pass I get to see their chutes below; big square and full of air.

My turn!

I am called to the door. I stick my legs out, sit with one cheek in the plane, the rest of my body out of it, and wait while the jump master checks my kit. "Ready?" - I grin, not because I feel like grinning, but because I have no voice. "GO"

I launch myself out of a perfectly serviceable plane.

Here's where my mind goes blank for a bit. I remember *nothing* about my exit. The next thing I do remember is thinking "shit - I should have been counting.”.... However, I'm not falling that fast, so I look up and there is already a fucking great big lump of nylon above my head.

My lines are a complete mess. I must have twisted as I left, but twisted lines are ok ... well - they are ok if I untwist them, but my chute is big, square and full of air. I smile... A *biiiiig* smile. I kick my twists out.

My radio is telling me to "sort myself out and get upwind of the arrow" ... I do my control checks, (yay this baby FLIES!!) and I look around to find my bearings. The view is amazing. There is very little sound, it's a beautiful experience.

I am starting to enjoy myself now. I turn into the wind, and check my height. 2,000ft. All of that in 1,500ft? Time doesn't seem to be moving at its usual pace. I flare and watch the ground below me stop moving. I'm just hanging. I let the flair go and I swoop forward. This is *great* fun. I check my height again 1,000ft. How the hell did I loose that much height in that little time?!?! My radio shouts at me again, 180 turn, face downwind, and stay in the safe zone.

I turn, it's a bit like an oil tanker ... you tell it to turn, but there’s a big delay till it actually *does* anything. I travel behind the arrow, turn again and come in for my landing.

The landing wasn't exactly textbook. I flared too early, thereby loosing most of it's benefits, and hit the ground at about 10 miles an hour. I rolled and was then dragged through more sheep shit than I care to see again.

But I was down, alive, walking, and with a grin the size you've never seen the likes of before. I gather my chute up, and wander over to the side of the field where the first 3 are waiting.

I did it, and I'm still here to tell the story!

Current Mood: ecstatic ecstatic

2 comments or Leave a comment
brightspot From: brightspot Date: August 26th, 2001 04:24 am (UTC) (Link)

And now you can love a sheep intimately, from behind all the poop stains...*grins*

That's AWESOME!! Reading your account *almost* makes me want to go up...and then I realize I have kids to use as an excuse. *cheeky grin*

Love ya, sweetie!
~ brightie
tweezlebum From: tweezlebum Date: August 26th, 2001 11:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Please don't do that again. ;) <skotl>
2 comments or Leave a comment