Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tandem Jump 4

I think I'm going to stop jumping on Sundays. The week before last it was weather. This week it was the plane.

After sleeping through my alarm Sunday morning I showed up at the drop zone a few minutes late. I should have known something was up when Todd (one of the videographers) was just hanging out in the lobby going through old videos. It turns out that one of the engines on the CASA was overheating so it was grounded for the day. Better safe than sorry.

Of course, this spawned all sorts of commentary that morning:

"There's no such thing as a perfectly good airplane"
"Hey, we only need to get up to altitude"
"Does this mean I can go take a nap?" (one of the instructors)

So we spent the morning hanging out on the deck and trading stories. For a novice like me times like that are valuable inasmuch as it gives me a chance to pick up little nuggets of information as well as get to know the folks that will be coaching me once I moved onto my IAF jumps (more on that later).

I did my briefing with JT that morning. Tandem 4 focuses on dives and is also the first jump where you make a poised rather than a diving exit. We ran through everything and I settled in to wait for the plane to show up while JT took a nap. Saturday appeared to have worn him out.

Despite several false starts (a lawnmower driving behind a metal hangar sounds surprisingly like a twin turboprop) the Otter finally arrived from Raeford. Up we went!

A few folks did pop and drops at 7K and then we lumbered on up to 14,000'. I have to say that I was not what I considered mentally prepared for this jump. While I was loose enough I do think the newness of the side exit from the Otter was weighing heavily on my subconscious. Beyond that I had not mentally rehearsed the jump to the degree that I needed to. I was getting the plan jumbled in my head. This added to the overall feeling of unease and ended up feeding on itself and resulted in several mistakes. While none were truly dangerous the OCD perfectionist in me was not at all satisfied. Let's run through them:

1) I didn't get in position in the door properly.
2) I grabbed the bar above the exit.
3) Once I began the skydive and moved into my dives I didn't keep track of time or altitude accurately.
4) My PHT (singular) was crap.
5) I didn't wave off at pull.
6) I pulled at 5500' and not 6500'.
7) Altitude awareness under canopy was lacking.
8) I snapped my head back on the landing and smacked JT in the jaw. Sorry, man.

These are all things I will definitely be pondering while I wait for ground school in September. I don't want to be The Best out there but I do want to perform to what I consider my best and this jump definitely wasn't it.

That being said, the dives and deltas were awesome. Rocketing across the sky like that is an amazing feeling and its why I keep doing this.

The next available Ground School slot is 7 September. I'll be doing my last tandem that day and also doing my first jump under my own canopy after a day of additional instruction.

I can't wait.

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