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Published on July 30th, 2010 | by AJ

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From Whuffo to Licensed in 12 days

First and foremost, I apologize for not updating this page as often as I wanted to. I had initially planned on updating it after every single jump, but things happened extremely fast. As the title describes – I made 25 jumps in just under 12 days time, while still working 45 hours per week. But I can honestly say it’s been one of the greatest 12 days of my life.

Along the way there have been some very notable jumps, here are my favorites:

Jump no. 7

Obviously my first Free Fall jump would make the list. I already wrote about it in “Not Bad, for a Wednesday” but I have to reiterate it here. Freefall is breathtaking. The feeling of just letting go from an airplane is unforgettable, and so is this jump.

Jump no. 9

Two days after my first free fall jump, I started jumping my own packjobs. For someone who can barely fold a shirt, packing a parachute scared the living hell out of me. That first jump – all I could think about was “Will this open?! Will it?!” and totally lost focus on the jump itself. We went out at 6.5, and I was only able to do two 90o turns before I pulled- at 5,000 feet. My coach, Cora, landed next to me laughing, she knew exactly why I did it.

“See? It opened. I told you it would. Now you get to do two more 90o turns plus 180’s and 360’s on the next jump. You’ll have to pull even lower to get them all in on time.”

Jump no. 13 (lucky no. 13!)

This was the second spot I made (a stressful event in and of itself) but this was also my first tracking jump. For those of you who don’t get to routinely fall at terminal velocity, I’ll enlighten you.

Tracking is the art of removing yourself from the arch that was so painfully drilled into your skull during your first jumps in order to move rapidly across the sky. When doing formation skydiving (relative work) it is important that you are clear of the group you exited with when you pull your parachute. Tracking works by placing your hands on either hip, cupped down, while rolling your shoulders down, and pushing your feet together. This allows you to really haul ass away from people, it’s also INSANELY fun. The thing I love about it is the sound. Freefall is loud, but a rather gentle “swish”-ing sound as the air goes by. When you track, you accelerate even faster, which makes a “WOOOSH” sound. Every time I track for more than a few seconds, I feel like Ironman™ breaking the sound barrier.

Jump no. 18

This was my check dive. At 18 I had completed the entire Skydiver’s Information Manual (SIM) manual, and just had fun jumps til I could get my license. I loved this jump because I really feel like I nailed it. For those of you who don’t know, the last 3 or 4 jumps in the SIM are swoop & dock jumps, meaning you have to approach and grab your coach in the air – much trickier than it seems. I always had trouble falling fast enough to keep up with my jumpmaster Paul, so I blew it a couple times.

But no. 18 was different. I jumped with Cora, who’s about the same size as me.  I got to do some backflips off of the step, which were ridiculously fun, and then completed my turns, and then I saw Cora above me. I was able to get back up to her and dock with almost no effort. It felt great to finally get that satisfaction. I was so excited I did another backloop, then tracked and pulled. Awesome.

Jump no. 19

Jump 19 was a fun jump, I had a ton of fun because I got to dive out after Paul. Dive-out exits are awesome. Jump 19 was crazy, because I had also just taken apart and reassembled a 3-ring system with our FAA certified Rigger, Mike. Mike was so concerned that I was putting my side together correctly, that he accidentally put his side on 360o from where it should have been. This caused a line twist about midway up that in effect stopped the end cells on my right side from opening. It was my first true “fast” malfunction. I immediately began spinning, and was about to cutaway when I saw the single twist, and remembered that we had just reassembled that 3-ring system. I twisted at the base of my risers, and that transferred the twist from the lines to the risers, and flew the rig home. Cora was impressed that I didn’t cut it. Teddy wanted me to cut it, because that would be 3 cases of beer I’d have to owe.

Jump no. 20

This jump almost made me poop myself. Paul, Cora and I did a 3-way from 10,000. We planned on exiting in a circle, breaking and turning 360o, then reconnecting and doing it again. Our exit was great, but once we turned, Paul fell under us and I started to side-slide while holding onto Cora. Paul backslid and was starting to come up, but I was side-sliding too fast. He flew directly under me, putting me in his “burble”. I immediately dropped on his back at 8,000 feet into an inadvertent “Rodeo” – it was crazy. Once on the ground, Paul thought it was just the funniest thing.

“I’ve never seen anybody hop off a rodeo so fast, you weren’t quite ready for that, where you?”

Nope. Not at all.

Jump no. 23

This jump went well, Teddy and I exited, but rotated head-down and held it. According to his audible altimeter, we travelled at 190mph as a top speed. The crazy part though, was deploying. This was a chute I had packed, and I had the most insane pilot-chute burble ever. I literally pulled at 4,000 feet and finally came under canopy at 2,800. It wasn’t until I rotated to reach for my cutaway handle that the parachute finally deployed. Crazy.

Jump no. 24

Under this one, in my logbook I wrote “PERFECT” in big, capital letters. Cora and I went from altitude, on the way up we changed our dive plan 3 times (She said it made me a real skydiver.) We started with grips, I then released and went sidebody. Cora held her heading, I side-slid around and got the other side, then back to front dock. We did this twice. I was so incredibly jacked. This was the first jump I did that I really feel like I nailed RW on the first try.

Jump no. 25

Graduation! This jump wasn’t all to spectacular, same plan as 24 only I would have to fall faster because it was with Teddy, who is bigger than Cora. I was only able to get around him once, but then I tracked for 15 seconds at full speed. Landing felt great, I had put the feet on target for the 8th time that day.

What are some of your most memorable jumps? Most insane? Best improvisation? Holler at me in the comments.

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