Posted on Leave a comment

It’s my birthday and I wanna skydive…

25th birthday today, skies are blue, weather’s warm, I’ve got a rig for the day and a bunch of friends meeting me at the DZ… Gonna be a fun day!

Damn I should’ve gotten more sleep! 😛

Blue ones!

– Adam

Posted on Leave a comment

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.

Posted on Leave a comment

All this planning and I forget to bring my gloves

So in the end, we didn’t do a jump at 20 000 feet, the DZ wasn’t able to get the permits.
So we jumped from 18000.

Everyone on the plane had oxygen masks, we were 4 loads of 8-9 people.
On my load, a buddy who’s birthday it was who they added to our load to accommodate (He wasn’t supposed to be jumping today, they originally limited the day at 30 jumpers)
Most of the load were friends of mine I had met while skydiving, 3 of which were jumping with me.

At 12 000 feet, we were told to put on our oxygen masks, and from 12000 feet until 18000 things were normal… Aside from the cold.

It’s 25 degrees on the ground, I know it’s cold in the sky, yet for some reason…. I managed to not wear gloved… I actually don’t have skydive gloves in my colors, but I usually wear my snowboard gloves instead.

We did a 4way RW (Relative Work) jump. I was the tail, first to jump out while holding in an H position. Our bodies are placed like the letter H with our arms being the middle point. (In reality, it’s more of a domino shape with the top, middle and bottom line being our arms, but it’s called an H position)

We position ourselves, exit, it’s a little unstable and the person to my right ended up coming under us but we replaced ourselves and got good grips onto each other.
We then started doing our formations, or at least tried to…. After the 1st point, (everyone turned 90 degrees clockwise) things started to lose balance, so we basically played a game of tag in the air.

Landing was a bit rough, I jumped a Sabre II 170, loaded at 1.16, wind was very shaky today and lots of people got hurt on our run, I came close.
I was hoping to get a nice swoop in, but I flared about 2 feet too late and didn’t compensate by pulling faster and harder, as I started to swoop, my feet had touched the ground, but I was still coming down a little and my knees touched the ground, then the swoop picked up, lifted me onto my feet then stopped.
I got dirty, but didn’t hurt myself thankfully.
2 people on my load had hurt themselves on the run.

One person came in very close to some trees and got some wind burble due to that, he wasn’t able to keep control 100% and landed a bit hard, another person caught some turbulence and didn’t correct it, he was about 20 feet off the ground, in the end the right side of his parachute folded in and he landed rolling.

Some other people just landed in the middle of nowhere.
On the bright side, I landed exactly on target 😛

The wind picked up not long after the jump to 23 naughts (about 26 mph), so they grounded the planes by the 11th load of the day.
I decided to call it a day and head home to relax.
“You know you’re a skydiver when… You’re able to wake up at 5 am to go to the drop zone and skydive to be there for 7 am, but you have a hard time being up at 6:30 to go to work for 8.” 😀

Blue skies everyone

– Adam

Posted on 2 Comments

They just don’t get it…

Well, AJ’s post somewhat inspired me to write about something quite common among Skydivers…

Our friends and family just don’t get it.

Whuffos ask us the same thing all the time, why we do it.

Our friends who’ve already heard the answer to that question go even farther as to just ask what we see in the sport or why we blow all our money on it, or why we talk about it so much

They simply can’t understand it.

Well, I don’t understand why they find it normal that a golfer pays 25 000$ on a golf club membership.
Or 10 000$ a year on scuba gear, yet can’t seem to find it normal for us to spend it on skydiving.

Actually to be 100 truthful, my friends HATE listening to me talk about skydiving…

They don’t have the same passion I do, they don’t understand how I could spend so much time on a sport which is “repetitive” (I.E. always jumping out of a plane, same feeling)
They’ve never done it, so they don’t know that no two jumps are identical, they don’t get that I won’t get tired of it, they simply don’t understand that a passion is a passion regardless of what it is. Skydiving isn’t something that everyone else does, but it’s something I do, no, it’s not something I do, it’s part of who I am.

I’m not a scuba diver, or a golfer, I’m not a tennis player, a basket ball player, a baseball player, I’m not a horse back rider, I don’t own a motorcycle, and I sure as hell don’t play cribbage.

I’m a skydiver. I find it fun to throw myself out of planes and ride a parachute half way down and I have met a bunch of people who feel the same way.

AJ’s instructor Ryan had it on the nose when he said “They just don’t get it”.
And any of you new to the sport, heed this advice, for it is wise: Don’t start talking to your friends and family about the sport, because all they’ll do is feign interest. Share your passions with people who share them with you.

– Adam

Posted on Leave a comment

Not Bad for a Wednesday

“Not bad for a Wednesday?” Ryan yelled over the noise of the small Cessna 206.

“Hell no!” I answered back.

It was almost sunset, and I’d been jumping since three. My training seems to be coming along nicely, I just need to work on targeting my landings better.  But here I was about to get my first real freefall jump.

He flashed the climb-out/get-out signal. Next thing I knew I was hanging on the strut of that little plane, looking back at a big grin and a thumbs up.

“Fuck it.” I remember thinking, then I let go.


There’s no amount of ground training that can prepare you for what it’s like to fall from the sky at 150mph. There’s no video you can watch, or video game simulation to play. A wind tunnel gets close, but only for the physical aspect. You don’t have the falling sensation, or any sense of altitude awareness in a wind tunnel – but I’m sure it’s good practice.

I started on Wednesday still on the static line, doing some practice ripcord pulls. After I made 3 good ones, they gave me a hop n’ pop. After that, I got taken to 5,500ft AGL, and got a 10 second freefall. Not bad Ryan, not bad for a Wednesday.

For those of you not lucky enough to experience this part of life yet, I won’t even make an attempt to describe it. There’s just nothing to compare it to. You’re falling, but you don’t stop falling for a minute or sometimes more. It’s just you – and nothing else, and I wouldn’t trade that feeling for anything. (PS. I owe beer)

So far my skydiving journey has been incredible. The folks over at the Minnesota Skydivers Club are absolutely amazing, and phenomenal instructors to boot. I’ve only been at this a week, but I can tell I’ll be doing this for the rest of my unnatural life.

Once on the ground my first question was, “What do you tell people? How do you explain why you do this?”

The general consensus was that you just don’t. Ryan told me that at first he wanted to tell everybody everything about skydiving – but then he realized that people just don’t understand. Afterwards, he says “You just want to talk skydiving with other skydivers, because they get it.”

Adler told me that he just doesn’t bother telling anyone. If they ask, he says “Well, I like it.”

What do you guys tell your friends or family? How do you explain why we love plummeting towards the earth at terminal?

Looks like it’s time to head out to the DZ again, then a nice 10 hour shift at the bar. Awesome.

Posted on 2 Comments

DZ Differences

Over the course of the last year, I’ve been truly blessed to have the opportunity to travel to some amazing dropzones. What I’ve come to find is that each has it’s own unique set of qualities and it’s own unique group of jumpers.

This definitely keeps things interesting.

When it comes to issues like safety, I’ve come to find that each dropzone has their “danger zone” – that one element of the sport where there is constant discussion regarding jumper safety. Seems that every dropzone has their area(s) where they proceed with much caution.

This really came to my attention this weekend when the debate continued regarding canopy downsizing.

As I forgot to mention a couple weeks ago, I decided not to purchase that Sabre 2-120 I had been demoing. Not due to the size, but due to inconsistent and incredibly odd openings. It gave me gear fear, and that’s not how it should be. I really came to realize this after demoing another Sabre2-120 that opened perfectly every time. So needless to say, I’m back on my Sabre 1-150 for the time being – at least until my wallet will allow me to buy new.

The experts at CSC all questioned why I purchased the 150 in the first place, stating that with my weight I should be on a smaller canopy. There goes that mixed message again.

So it got me to thinking about the areas of the sport where safety is a main focus and the differences between dropzones I have visited. Come to find out, almost ALL of them vary widely. These are definitely things that set dropzones apart from one another. Check this out:

  • The folks at one dropzone I have frequented are extremely hesitant when it comes to downsizing. The focus is on the size of the canopy rather than the wingloading. However, most of these people don’t bat an eye when it comes to wingsuiting or camera flying.
  • On the total opposite end of that spectrum, I’ve visited a dropzone that was hesitant to put anyone with less than 500 jumps in a wingsuit, but they highly encourage jumpers to test out canopy size and find what works for them – stressing wingloading rather than fearing size. (Though don’t get me wrong, neither of these dropzones are negligent or ignorant of the safety behind any issue, they just have those areas where they’re more likely to proceed with caution).
  • There’s a local dropzone that’s extremely strict on the rule of not flying a camera before you have 200 jumps, though I’ve been on loads where they don’t hesitate to throw jumpers out through “industrial haze” so thick it’s a guessing game when it comes to locating the LZ.
  • Then there’s the dropzone where jumpers on the flight will have the pilot do two or three go-arounds just to ensure that everyone on the flight will be able to avoid the clouds at a significant distance but they don’t hesitate to throw jumpers out in high, turbulent winds.
  • I’ve also been to a dropzone that in general is very strict. So much so that until you have 500 skydives, you can be grounded for any of the following: not having an AAD, freeflying with another jumper if you both don’t have 500 skydives, trying to jump in winds higher than 15 mph, wingsuiting or camera flying. Though, this very same dropzone has ZERO rules about swooping. Anyone, anywhere, anytime.
  • Then there are the dropzones that have strict swooping rules, these jumpers are often confined to specific areas of the LZ and you will be grounded if you don’t abide by them. Of course, these dropzones have their areas where they turn a blind eye as well.
  • Some dropzones don’t care if you jump barefoot, others won’t even think twice about it.

I’m sure the list goes on, but this is just off the top of my head. It’s amazing how much dropzone policy can differ from one to the next.

And yes, I’m keeping this vague. Who am I to call out dropzones on their policies. I’m no one, that’s who!

For the most part, the majority of dropzones I’ve visited are very safety conscious. Most have pretty strict landing patterns, or at least they encourage safe canopy piloting based on location and conditions. Most are incredibly strict on BSRs, though camera flying has been split about 50/50 when it comes to that 200 jump requirement.

Anyhow, this is just an observation that I found interesting and wanted to share. Though if you’re looking for my opinion, for what it’s worth, I say proceed with caution in every aspect of the sport. Safety should always come first. Know your limits, be aware of those around you and always pay attention.

That is all.

Blue skies!


Posted on 2 Comments

Jumping in SA is cheaper than here =(

Well, as far as I’ve been able to read, as it stand, Lance has got it way better than I do in Canada…

A jump ticket here is 35$ Canadian (34$ us give or take)
Packing is only 6$ though. So if you have your own rig, it’s 41$ if you have your rig packed. Add another 30$ if you rent a rig.
It’s July, I’ve done 2 jumps this month so far, (Not kidding)
I’ve done 48 overall this year, 10 of which were my AFF, 10 were my RW course, 2 were with camera men to film my “flip” attempts and the rest fun jumps and have easily spent 6000$ so far… This doesn’t include buying a jumpsuit or helmet.

As it stands, my money can go much farther in Lodi California than it can here or in South Africa, but it’ll cost me a fortune to go there in the 1st place. (In Lodi it’s about 9$ a jump+ packing) But given the choice, I’d rather jump in South Africa… Lodi isn’t exactly the nicest looking part of the world.

As for wing loading, the DZs here don’t limit you with anything, they just want to make sure you’re comfortable jumping with whatever loading you choose.
Right now, I’m jumping a 1.16 loading and am looking at downsizing to 1.32 by the time I buy my rig next april (We can’t jump in the winter, so it’ll be the equivalent of downsizing in October).

So I stick to my grounds on saying that SA’s got it somewhat better 😛

Then again, I’m not really sure of the average income/cost of living there though but judging from all the “sponsor a child in Africa” commercials, I guess I can see why it’s not affordable for most people.

Fill me in Lance!
– Adam

Posted on Leave a comment

Skydiving in South Africa

Right – I guess I should start off with describing how EXPENSIVE skydiving is here in relation to the general income (I’ll try make this as easy to understand as possible).

Skydiving in South Africa has unfortunately reached a point where it is reserved for professionals. I am sure not why this is, but it a major factor behind skydiving here not being as accessible as it is in the rest of the world.

To put it in context – A jump ticket cost me R200 (roughly $26.50), gear hire and packing – $9.90 each jump. Considering I normally take home around $2000 per month after TAX (Which in Rands is a fairly decent salary).

So – By the time I pay for my car, rent, food, cell phone  etc, I am usually left with around $260 to jump with 🙁

I can’t really compare the cost side of things to the US as I don’t know how much it costs relative to the average salary, however – In South Africa, jumping is out of reach for the general public 🙁

Other than the costs involved, Jumping in South Africa is pretty much the same as anywhere else in the world, just on a smaller scale. We only have about 6 Drop Zones in the whole country, but I plan to jump at all of them 🙂

As for BEER FINES, yes – we have them 🙂 but on a smaller scale. For passing my AFF progression, I was rewarded with having to buy a case of beer, and while everyone sits around drinking my beer, they laugh at all my AFF videos. I then had to tell a story that begins with “Oh SHIT, there I was – I thought I was going to die…(insert story here :-))”  Then had to down a beer within 5 seconds, and if you don’t finish it – pour it on your head. Haha – Good Times!

For our “Firsts”, we have to do down-downs, not buy cases of beer – This suits me just fine because two cases of beer is equivalent to one jump ticket, and I’m sure everyone knows – when you first get into the sport, there are A LOT of firsts!

Things are looking very promising for the skydiving future of South Africa as; recently a very wealthy business man decided to invest in uplifting the sport. So far he has built and upgraded various drop zones around the country, bought 6 ex South African Air force planes (Previously known as Atlas Kudu’s) and is currently in the process of having them all converted to turbine engines. The first three have been rolled out (My DZ currently has one). These are now called Atlas Angels and have a wicked paint job :-). The idea is that once all 6 have been converted, 5 drop zones will each have one and there will be a spare for when one goes in for a service! I love these planes – it takes just 12 minutes from take-off to 12 000ft, and about the same time back to the end of the run way.

Although the Angels only hold 9 skydivers, they are normally on their way back up with load 2 by the time the tandems from load 1 are landing 🙂

See below pic’s of my favourite jump ship 🙂

One thing I love (Especially now being winter here), from about 7 000ft and up the view is amazing! To the right of the plane, we can see the Drakensburg Mountains, covered with snow, and to the left, we see the entire Durban coast line and even the arch of our new stadium!

Those are the main differences that I know of – the only other minor difference is: Here, the maximum wing loading for a “Beginner / intermediate” skydiver is 1.0 as opposed to the 1.1 in the US, not a huge difference, but for me – it’s the difference between being able to fly a 170 vs. a 150. Meaning that now (Because I’m in the process of buying my FIRST rig) I have to buy a 150 canopy, and look at it in the cupboard while I jump a 170 till I get my B-License 🙁 as the 150 is going for a great price and don’t want to lose out!

I haven’t been able to jump anywhere other than in South Africa, so I’m just going on what I’ve read. Please feel free to add a comment if there is anything specific that you would like to know about.

Blue skies everyone and happy days!

Posted on 1 Comment

Nine Signs of Obsession

It’s been a hectic month, with two vacations and lots of travel. I’ve spent countless hours on airplanes, but sadly, not the kind you can jump out of.  The end result: I’ve only logged six jumps in the past 30 days. Bummer.

These are the signs of my increasingly obsessive behavior and its sad consequences:

1) I know exactly how many jumps I’ve accrued in the past 30 days. (Well, I guess that’s pretty normal for a newbie like me.)

2) I spent ten days in a tropical and exotic place (Okinawa, Japan) where I climbed a waterfall, camped on the beach, rode a Ferris wheel, and went snorkling, yet feel the trip was missing something because there was no sky jump. (There is no DZ on the island or I would have gone!)

3) I was yapping endlessly about skydiving to people around the world. People feigned interest. I didn’t care. I yapped away.

4) Every time I flew in a commercial plane I wanted to click my seat belt through my (non-existent) harness.

5) My dropzone friends barely recognize me. I think they might be calling me a whuffo behind my back.

6) I kept nearly driving off the road because I wanted to see all the cloud formations and then daydream about my plans to fly around them.

7) 46.3 % of my vacation photos feature cloud formations. Really.

8) I brought a copy of Parachutist with me everywhere in case there would be a good location to shoot a “I took my Parachutist to…” pic to submit for publication. (And yes, I do have some fun potential submissions.)

9) I checked this blog obsessively to see what you all were up to. Look at how we’ve grown! Awww. So sweet.

So, I’m back. My A License is complete. The DZ beckons. The Mary stories will resume.

Posted on 6 Comments

A Little Intro

Hi everyone,

I thought it best to introduce myself…

Hi, my name is Lance, and I’m a skydiving addict! It’s been exactly 2 days and 19 hours since my last fix and I’m getting serious withdrawal’s – I like to call this “Altitude Sickness” 🙂

I live and jump in Durban, South Africa and needless to say, skydiving here is not quite what it is in the US and the rest of the world. Yes – It IS as awesome and as addictive as it is everywhere else in the world, but it is not as “Big” here as it is everywhere else…but hey – that just means I can get on more loads! 🙂

I’ve currently only got 39 jumps under my belt and am about to start (this weekend) my free fly training for my CAT II & III (Super excited).

I guess you could say that skydiving is in my blood – My parents actually met skydiving in Ohio, although my mom decided it wasn’t for her after landing in a tree, my dad went on to do 600 odd jumps and get his D-License.

I am very grateful to my dad for marrying a US Citizen, because it means that I am also a US citizen which would allow me to travel and jump in the USA without having to worry about visa’s 🙂 THANKS DAD!

I love skydiving life! Skydiving has completely taken over my world and only skydivers ACTUALLY understand how addictive it is, and why it’s pretty much the only thing I talk about!

Anyway, I am very excited about being able to write for Skydive Addiction and give my insight into the skydiving life in my part of the world.

Blue Skies everyone and happy days!