Princess picked me up at 7:30 AM. Her ride is way better than mine. Our destination was Ripcord Skydivers near Gatton, just an hour’s drive west from Brisbane. We reached it around 9 AM, maybe a bit later.
I was very calm in the car and the days before the jump. It’s because I remembered my tandem jump and how good it was, so I wasn’t scared. I knew I’d enjoy it.
After several wrong U-turns we finally arrived at the DropZone, I blame the female driver for our logistical difficulties. We had to fill in some papers to make sure that we understood the risks involved with skydiving. After that training commenced.
Neither of us had done a solo jump before, this was going to be the first one. Our instructor Sara taught us how to put the parachute on, how to turn right, left and how to brake, how to land, what to do with line twists. Later she talked about how to open the emergency parachute. We practiced doing that for a good 30 minutes. She covered all kinds of malfunctions and what to do in each case.
We also practiced landing outside by jumping from stairs onto a mat and later the mat was removed to give us an idea what it really felt like. One student was a bit overweight and it was funny to listen to the instructor’s comments because he kept landing the wrong way. First it was: “OK, you just broke your ankles”, a bit later “yep, you just broke your right leg”… It was hilarious because he “broke” every bone possible. Later on he got better… I think (he continued practicing with the instructor as everybody else went on a break). After the break we practiced getting out of the plane. The idea is to stay low, otherwise you risk pulling the safety pins on your emergency parachute and in worst case scenario killing everybody on the plane.
I think the training ended around 2 or 3 PM. Sadly we were not able to jump immediately after it because of the strong wind. We had to wait for the weather to calm down.
As we waited, I noticed a guitar in one of the rooms and was able to kill some time playing a song or two. Since we were clearly bored one of the jump team members decided to show us a video compilation of last year’s jumps. She also added her commentary. It was really funny to see what you can do in the air.
For example there’s a thing called skyrape. It’s when one jumper mounts the other one from above and starts dry humping him/her and there’s nothing the other person can do about it. It’s one of the dumbest and funniest things I’ve seen. 😀
The videos had other cool stuff like eating M&M’s during a freefall, lots of funny faces and circling around each other. And then there was a clip of a naked guy getting out of the plane. The jump instructor said that guy got exactly the same training as we did and later asked whether he could do the jump nude. The instructors were OK with that and so he did.
Several other cool clips followed. Until Sara showed us a video of one guy who didn’t stay low as he got out of the plane, he pulled his emergency parachute’s pins out. Both of his parachutes opened after the jump but he was still able to land unharmed. After that the jump team started to talk about all kinds of accidents and about what bones some people broke and how they did it. It was funny to watch how much enthusiasm they had when they spoke about injuries. It was all great stuff to know about before my first solo jump.
I started thinking about that guy who jumped naked and thought for a second that I could do that. You know, you only live once. If you do something, you should do it with some gusto. I couldn’t get that idea out of my head and decided that I would do a nude jump as well. The jump team didn’t have a problem with that. Well, sort of. Sara didn’t agree to be the one to help me … uhm… fasten the parachute around my … uhm… down under. “Luckily” another guy agreed to do that.
I was asked whether I was excited. “I can’t get excited… if you know what I mean”, I replied. 😛
The initial plan was for Princess to jump on the flight before me. Later the jump team decided to put us on the same flight. So, Princess got suited up and had her parachute fastened to her back and a bit later it was time for me to Birthday Suit Up. The jump team had a lot of fun as they took pics of the other guy “helping” me with the chute. 😛 I will look back fondly to those fun and embarrassing moments for years to come…
OK, now it was time to get my bare ass on the plane. I wasn’t completely naked – I had to wear shoes and a helmet. The helmet had a radio in it which the instructors used to guide me through my jump and landing. Several practice routines on the ground to make sure that we remembered what to do and take off.
About 5-10 minutes later we were at 3500 feet and they opened the plane’s door. It stayed open for a good minute or two. They gave me the signal – three taps on my shoulder. I immediately forgot everything I learned during the training but somehow got out of the plane, stayed low and moments later was hanging on to the diagonal which connects the wing to the plane’s body. There was nothing below my feet and then all I had to do was let go.
Just 5-6 seconds later the parachute opened on its own. I looked up and saw a line twist, I got out of it, released the brakes, and followed the instructions given to me via the radio. I turned left, I turned right and practiced landing. Everything seemed OK with the chute. “Woooohooooooooooooo! Yeah! This is it! I did it! Woooooohoooooooooooo”, I screamed. 😀 I was super happy as I felt the breeze down under.
The idea was that a solo student jumped and after he/she landed the next one got out of the plane. John gave me instructions on when to turn right or left and guided me down to the landing spot. I got a bit confused because at one point he started to give instructions to Princess as well (it was the same radio frequency) and I turned when I wasn’t supposed to. I know, I know, excuses excuses. Anywho I overshot the big X but landed nicely on my feet (ok that’s a lie too, I crashed and burned). I daisy-chained the parachute, packed it all together and walked back to the jump team as Princess made her landing. Her landing was much better than mine. Overachiever.
I’m glad Princess joined me, she made the day very entertaining. I loved her company, especially her laughter and good mood.
Thank you Ripcord Skydivers! You rock!
A breeze “down under” has never felt this GREAT!
Ivar the Naked Jumper