So for those of you following my life, you may know that I went skydiving last fall.
Since then, I’ve taken up the Accelerated Freefall Progression (AFP) course, which constitutes a standardized course that takes a beginner skydiver to a level of competency that most drop zones will allow self-supervised jumps upon its completion.
This typically takes about 10 jumps total, including a few tandem jumps, but mostly jumps with instructors jumping next to you, making sure that you can do what they expect you to do, as well as make it down safely.
It took me a little longer, due to a long winter break, as the weather was just not cooperative, with all the storms, snow, and other nastiness.
This past weekend, I left New York City with fellow skydiver Jen, in a hot yellow Pontiac G5 (thanks to the rental place only having conspicuous cars for me) and drove down to Skydive Cross Keys, where I’ve been jumping all along.
It was close to the end of the day when I finally got in the air, along with my graduation jump master Richard, a seasoned Aussie skydiver who’s been doing this for the past 28 years. We planned my skydive and then jumped it. I did what I needed to in order to graduate, and also learned that I have to focus on some items like legs for stability, etc.
In any case, watch it here, and enjoy it. The video loops twice – the first time at only 70% speed, and then again at full speed. What a rush.
You can also click through to the YouTube site and choose “watch in high uality” directly below the video player.
We camped out that night, had a great dinner and lots of beer, and got some much needed rest.
The next morning, I got to jump my first proper solo jump at 13,500′ (about 4 kilometers) up, where I was completely on my own. It was amazing.
Then the weather turned ugly, and it began to pour rain and hailstones the size of golf balls, so Jen and I spent the day at the packing mat with Brad and Brian, who taught us how to pack a parachute (a skill I have to demonstrate by packing the chute and jumping it myself in order to get my first licensed level. I now have the equivalent of a permit, I guess).
Matt, the guy who owns the rig I was practicing on, decided to go on up for a possible jump when the weather cleared up a bit, and took my freshly-packed parachute rig with complete confidence in me. A little stressful, to say the least.
But that was completely countered when he was the only one on the flight that jumped (all the other were tandem students, not allowed to jump due to the weather), and when he came down he told me that my pack job was one of the softest openings (a good thing) that he’s had – better than his own.
I can’t wait to go up again.