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Published on June 13th, 2010 | by Adam

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MARATHON DU CIEL!!!!!!

What a day… That is all I have to say… 49 Loads, 15 skydivers/teams of skydivers doing 15 jumps each for the Canadian Cancer Society, a whole bunch of tandem jumpers and solo jumpers, 2 caravans running non stop… What a day.

I’m gonna put this in 24 form with my comments in Bold.

0400: Wake up and start getting ready to head out… Can’t believe I’m getting up at 4 am.

0445: Leave my house to pick up my teammate Louis-Eric. (The weather is currently gray)

0500: Arrive at Louis-Eric’s place and head to the Drop zone. (Still gray out with random rain as we drove)

0611: Arrive at the Drop Zone. (The weather is still gray, no openings in the clouds, and it’s drizzling slightly)

0630: We’re finished briefing, start preparing for the 1st load. Get our gear given to us (ppl renting), give in all the donation forms, get shown around a little bit. At this point, I was pleasantly surprised that they handed me a Vector 3 rig. (NB: I didn’t think to ask what the canape was, since I was so used to getting Navigator 190s as my rentals.)

0700: 1st load on the 1st caravan. We’re 15 on it, 2 passes. I’m last to jump on the 1st pass. We’re doing a Hop and Pop (Exit at 5000 feet instead of 13500). Since I’m last, my scheduled open was immediately as soon as I exit… So I jump, stabilize, open, and look up to find a beautiful set of folded cells :) So as I’m spinning out of control to the right, I finally start to wake up. Yes, I skydive when half asleep :P. I fix the folded cell and prepare to land when I notice something…
There’s very wind, the landing direction is to the left (We make left turns as we come in for our landings) and with our backs to the Manifest (the building where all the paperwork and organization of a Drop Zone is taken care of).
What I notice is…. That the wind changed, but it’s already too late to fix that issue as I’m already on my final ascent… (There’s no wind sock there, and the flags are barely visible from 1000 feet… That needs to be worked on…)
I come in for a running landing, which would be fine if I was jumping a Navigator 190…
But I wasn’t… Turns out I was in a Sabre II 190… (A Navigator is a student parachute, it lands very slowly and easily, it’s a rectangular shape. The Sabre II is a sports parachute, it’s semi-elliptical and when you land, it swoops in. See the video below for some great swooping).

Now, since this is my 1st time flying a sports rig, it’s also my 1st time coming into a swoop landing…
Let’s just say that I’m lucky to have a natural instinct to roll when I fall hard.

0730: 2nd load, I’m 3rd to last to exit, again with an immediate extractor release. My landing is perfect… Just 1 issue, I land past the beer line… I was exempted on that one since I didn’t know where the beer line was :)

0830: 3rd Load, the weather’s now improving, no more rain, it’s warming up, clouds are starting to clear. Again, great landing. Swooping is fun!!!!

0945: 4th load People are starting to show up for their tandems, weather’s still improving. I now learn the effects of flaring (braking) too early when you have a sports rig… You don’t stop… You start to fly upwards. I was lucky to not break anything on that landing.

1100: 5th load we decided to get some altitude to see how high the ceiling (clouds) is. So we go up to 8000 Feet (the ceiling) and do our jumps, now I get some free-fall time :)

Things are now starting to slow down, since the tandem jumpers arrived, packers have to prioritize them, so an extra 30 minute wait is now tacked onto each of our loads… Instead of doing back to backs, we’re going on every 2nd load…

1230: Take a break, then find out that I now have access to 2 rigs. (Someone decided to downsize, so I took hers)

1330: 6th load, back at 5000 feet. Things are going great, and I now never want to jump a Navigator again…

1400: 7th Load is a back to back, so I run to the plane to realize I have to pee like hell… Land, run to the bathroom, miss the next load.

1445: 8th Load, everything’s going fine and dandy :)

1530: 9th is a back to back. I’m dying to get an extra jump or five…

1415: Last jump, I convince them to let me go to 13000 feet for my last jump, skies are blue, it’s a bit cloudy though, very hot day.. Do some practices for my B license exam (Yes, I’m way in advance, but I’d rather prepare sooner then later) I’ve now developed my accuracy for landings when swooping, so I decide to see what happens when I flare a bit later, but faster and harder…
I come over a sandy area for my landing with a lot of speed, flare, feet hit the sand, and get stuck… I start rolling into the sand getting it EVERYWHERE… In my helmet, my jump suit, my shoes, my canape… EVERY DAMN WHERE!!!
As I walk back, someone asked me why I was digging for oil. :)

1530: Louis-Eric decides to do another jump, so I wait for him

1630: We head home… Both starving and tired.

1730: We arrive in Montreal at a restaurant, I look in my back seat for my bag… Which isn’t there… Yes, I forgot it an hour away at the DZ…

1830: I drive back to the DZ to get my bag.

1930: Arrive at the DZ, get my bag, have a few beers with everyone, who are now harassing me into spending the night there… (I for sure will in a few weeks, but couldn’t last night… Had to wake up in the morning to introduce 4 more ppl to skydiving :) )

Overall, this DZ has some of the coolest people, and the best rigs I’ve ever had the opportunity to jump with. The place is also reminiscent of Skydive City at Zhills. Very “hippy commune” like, campground, community dinner, etc…
Overall, I

I repeat… What a day :)

-Adam


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