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Life on the ground

Though it seems contradictory to the majority of posts in this blog, and given that it’s entitled Skydive Addiction, I’m a huge believer in the need to enjoy life outside of the skydiving community…outside of the addiction, if you will.

When I first started skydiving, it was an obsession. It’s all I thought about, dreamed about, looked forward to and honestly, all I cared about.

Any downtime at the office wasn’t spent making myself a better practitioner, it was spent watching the latest skydiving videos on YouTube. I missed out on important family functions – the type of relative work that was around long before I started skydiving –  because the skies were blue. I all but gave up my passion for photography. Not so slowly, skydiving was sucking the life out of me.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no regrets here. I’ve always been the all or nothing type – it’s just a part of who I am – and in this instance I was willing to give up all other important aspect of my life to get that adrenaline fix. Of course, for me, it was more than that. It was the challenge of the sport that I lived for. The more it taught me about the strength and ability that lie inside me, the more I wanted to be in the sky.

Money and time were no object.

This summer, it slapped me upside the head that the life I lead on the ground is important too. Through a tragic event I was able to fully understand the importance of family. I’m not sure much has changed outside of what’s going on in my own head and heart, but I do know it’s for the better.

I’ve also recently fallen in love with the other aspects of my life on the ground. Spending time with friends and my partner, working out, getting back into the world of photography, writing, focusing on my career…it’s all been incredible.

And now, with some recent changes I’m looking forward to including all these aspects of my life in a new location as we move to Chicago next month!

So what’s my point? Well, think about this: what if something happened that for some reason you couldn’t jump anymore, say financial issues, or heaven forbid, an injury. Take a look at your life as it is now and ask yourself, how happy would you be without skydiving?

I’ve always been a believer in having a multi-faceted life. There’s more to living than just one hobby; one obsession. I like that there are so many aspects to my life that make it great. I like that I have friends at the dropzone and at the office and close to home. I like that when Monday comes I can look back on my weekends with a smile, knowing how much fun was had, but that I’m able to live in the moment and enjoy my week because I like that part of my life too.

Anyway, there’s not really a conclusion to this, more of a brain dump as I take a break from doing laundry and packing up my condo for the big move….and although those things are chores on the surface, I’m rather enjoying the moment.

Blue skies!


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Night Skydive follow up :)

Hey everyone!

I had a very eventful day last Saturday, it started off with my celebration jump for my B license.
We did a 7 way that went to hell, was someone’s 100th jump and the idea was that we would do a hybrid (some belly fliers, some free fliers).
The plan was that we’d have a 4 person base (I was in the base).
With 2 people hanging onto us and one stinger (He was on camera filming and would randomly hook on and off in freefly)

Our exit was fairly unstable and I ended up separated from everyone, I was falling way too slow to be able to keep up no matter how hard I tried, I failed miserably… If I had a camera, I would’ve had the best view of this jump though, I was just above everyone and saw everything… Was laughing the whole time… I found it funny to watch one of the hangers fall on someone 😛

For the 2nd jump, we did a 4way hybrid, well.. attempted to, again, with the guy who was 100 lbs heavier than me, but this time with a girl who was 80 lbs lighter than I am…
Needless to say, she and I couldn’t keep up =P

I gave up on trying to keep up with the other guy (I need to practice my speed flying before I try that again)

For the 3rd jump, I participated in someone’s 900th. It was a 9 way belly fly.
We were supposed to exit the plane on red and jump on green, I dunno why, but we were already falling on red…

The jump was fairly well planned, but someone had a brain fart and ended up below us. We had a few issues and ended up zooing the jump, but was fun.
That is… Until we all tracked away and I pulled my pilot chute…

My canopy opened… To reveal:

A beautiful….

Line over!!!!!

It was off center a bit to the right, I was spinning but managed to control it.
Decided to try to land it.
Most of us didn’t make it back, with normal openings… With the fact that I lost about 1500 feet of altitude spinning and was flying a crippled canopy, I’m sure you know I wasn’t one of the people who did…
I landed just off a pumpkin patch in some soft dirt.
I had about a km and a half (1 mile) to walk back to the DZ.
Wasn’t so bad except for the fact that I was walking through a farmer’s field with my canopy.

After having gotten back to the DZ, I got an earful from one of the packers…
She doesn’t like me to begin with, and I think on top of that, she was the one who had packed the rig. She didn’t believe that I had a malfunction and was probably having a bad day to begin with.

So come the end of the day, there are still some tandems that hadn’t jumped, the sun’s setting, they go up for 2 quick loads while we bring in some cars to light up the landing area.
It was still somewhat light out so they didn’t need more than 2-3 cars to light the area.

For our jump, we had set up about 20…
There was no moon out, the sky was dark, the only light we had was the lights of the city (let me tell you, it’s beautiful up there).
We had 10 cars on each side of the landing area set up at an angle so we wouldn’t get any light in our eyes.
It was set up in two passes (a pass is when the plane flies over where we’re supposed to jump out, when there’s two passes, half the people jump out the 1st time, we close the door, fly around for about 5 minutes, then pass again)
The jump was organized in a way so that the more experienced jumpers got out first, and the least got out last. There was very little wind that day, so we only needed about 15 seconds of delay between each jumper.
Each of us had a designated altitude to open at, the 1st at 3500 feet, 2nd at 4000, 3rd 4500, etc… All the way up to 7000 feet on each pass.

I decided that after the day I had, I just wanted to belly fly and take in the view…
At that moment, falling at 120 mph, looking at the city lights from 4 km in the sky, I can honestly say that it was probably the most romantic thing I’ve ever done for myself and I loved my self that much more for giving myself that experience… (Yes, I’m romantically linked to myself and there’s no one I love more than me =P)

I haven’t had the opportunity to jump since, but I’ll keep you guys posted on my progress.
I may end up going to Niagara Falls next weekend, if I do, I’ll be jumping there for sure.

In the meantime: Blue ones!

– Adam

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Sometimes… I pack parachutes in my living room.

Sorry it’s been so long! My life has gone from crazy to insane in the last few weeks, but here’s where I’m at…
When we left off, I had just purchased my first rig. Since then, my sabre 150 main has arrived and been patched. I’ve made 3 jumps on it, all hop-n-pops, and I’m still a little nervous about pulling at terminal. I’ve read and heard a lot about people being “spanked” by sabre’s, and I’m not too keen on the idea of being knocked around a lot on opening. I suppose I’ll just man up and do it – and I’ll be sure to keep you all posted on how that goes.
As far as canopy control? All I can say is wow. Cutting 70 square feet off of my usual 220 sq ft student rig was a little scary but as soon as I played with the risers, it was all worth it. The Sabre responds very well, and still flies conservatively. It’s nice to have a square canopy with a little more wingloading, rather than a fully elliptical canopy loaded at around .75 – it seems to be more stable and more responsive at the same time. Landings pretty smooth, it has a lot more flare than the 220 I am used to jumping, but I need to apply it a little lower. The ground speed is still just a twinge unsettling for me, but it’s something I’m sure I’ll get used to.
In other news, school has started again. For those of you who don’t know, I’m currently a sophomore struggling through the mechanical engineering program at the University of Minnesota. It’s going to be another tough semester, but there are a few redeeming qualities. For instance, I am now an officer of the University of Minnesota Skydiving Club. We got the opportunity to paint the Washington Ave. Bridge last Friday afternoon as a part of the U’s “Paint the Bridge” project. Every year student groups get the opportunity to paint a section of the bridge that spans the east and west banks of the U. This year, we opted for some fluorescent paint to help make it stand out – and it works. We handed out over 15 invitations for our first tandem weekend, October 16th and 17th at Skydive Twin Cities in Baldwin, WI. This event is open for all, and I would love to see some of you guys there, if you’re in the area. This year is also exciting, because in a few weeks two of my new friends (also student athletes) will have their A-licenses. This means we’ll have 5 or 6 licensed jumpers on campus (4 of which with their own rigs.) Can anyone say Collegiate Nationals 4-way team?

As far as my skydiving goals, I’d like to continue to fly on my belly (ok, I have to. My rig isn’t freefly friendly. But it gives me a good reason to work on my RW.) I’d like to venture into the world of 4-way RW and maybe even some big ways eventually. But most of all, I’d like to jump everywhere. From now on travelling will involve me packing my rig, and making at least a few jumps at any DZ I can come across. I hope one day I can roll into your guys’ DZ and make some fun jumps with you all.

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Boogies and more

It’s been a while – my apologies. Life has been busy to say the least.

Between planning a move from Cleveland to Chicago (which will be taking place at the first of October…coming up fast!), traveling, and boogies it’s been a busy fall already.

For those who may not know, Labor Day is a busy boogie weekend in the U.S. Last year was my first season as a skydiver, and looking back I was so excited for the Work Stinks! Boogie at Start Skydiving outside of Dayton, Ohio. Though for the life of me I couldn’t find a group of people to go. Luckily, my buddy Rick 😉 was willing to go with me.

One year later I couldn’t be more happy that he agreed to go, because this year at the Work Stinks! Boogie he asked me to marry him just before he hucked us out of the CASA into an awesome two-way head down. You’ll have to check out the video on my other blog.

And once we have the engagement photos from Norman I’ll be sure to send those around. The video of the shoot doesn’t look like much, but we saw the proofs and that man got some incredible shots!!

Okay, but enough of that sappy crap! Back to boogies…

So for us, Labor Day means Work Stinks! which included a CASA, R44 Helicopter, Two Caravans and an Otter. It also means lots of jumpers from around Ohio and Pennsylvania which was great fun! Lots of fun freefly takes place…good stuff.

We’ve also talked about going to Couch Freaks, which is in Iowa. I’ve heard great things about this boogie, though from what I understand the part not to miss is the party. Personally, I’m not much of a drinker (yes, I understand that I’m a skydiver and they go hand in hand..really, I do) so the draw hasn’t been that great considering Work Stinks! is much closer for us…though once we’re in Chicago that’ll be an entirely different story.

So let’s hear it fellow skydivers, what did you do with your extended Labor Day weekend? What are some of your favorite Boogies, no matter what time of the year they fall?

Blue ones!


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Night Skydive

Double post today! Boy are you all lucky 😛

So after having passed my B license exam, Hurricane Earl was tearing up the east coast of Canada and we were feeling the effects… 30-40 mph winds.
So no jumping this past weekend for me.

This coming Saturday I decided that I ABSOLUTELY have to celebrate my B license with something special…
What better way then to set it up myself?
I decided that I wanted to do a night jump.
So I’m now setting it up, we’re gonna be 20 ppl jumping out after dark.
I’m extremely excited.

More to come after it happens.


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Where am I?

As a follow-up to my post My original plan for this year… My actual results

I’m now at 62 jumps, I’ve spent about 5000$ on the sport (not counting the 1750$ for the solo course, the 350$ for the jump suit, the 280$ for my protrack, 260$ for my full face, my 100$ for my Altimaster II or the 1200$ spent going to Florida to take that solo course)

I’ve just passed my B license, (Yes, Got my B 15 jumps after passing my A).
I’ve not only passed the B license exam… I got 96.25% on it… According to my DZO, it’s the highest grade he’s ever seen =D.

I now have an altimaster II galaxy altimeter, a tony suits jump suit, a protrack audible, a factory diver full face, a packing tool and a huge smile on my face.

I did however decide to slow down on the purchases and decided not to buy a rig this year.
I’m going to start paying off some debts for now and maybe buy one next year.

As it stands, I’ve now surpassed my 2 year goal on the sport haha.

Next step: Coach 1 lessons and maybe Rigger A.

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Catch up post

Right, where to start!?

Firstly – sorry that it has taken me so long to get around to blogging, between work and the DZ, my time is very limited!!

So – I’m on 54 jumps after this weekend…and hoping to be at 100 by the end of the summer 🙂

There have been lots of changes with regards to my skydiving life, and I’m loving every bit of it! I am now in charge of our club newsletter and part of “The party committee”, hence why I have been so quiet on the blogging front!

I have also bought myself a “new to me” rig about two months ago, it is a Vortex II container with a 150 Hornet (SA brand canopy), 150 Pilot and a Vigil AAD. Unfortunately because I’m still a newbie, it is sitting in my cupboard while I jump a loan 170 🙁 I have done 10 jumps on it so far and I’m loving the Hornet (Yes – my loan is also a Hornet)!

I was expecting to either have to get to 100 jumps, or my B-Licence before jumping my rig, but after chatting to the CI & SO this weekend, he has given me the go-ahead to jump my new rig (Thanks Steve!!) 🙂 I just need to do another 10 jumps on this 170 and provided he is happy with my landing pattern, accuracy and landing, I can jump it 🙂 WOOOOHOOOOO…can’t wait!!

I am SO excited to jump my own rig, it just fits me so perfectly which is rare as I’m quite a small guy (5ft 5in and 154 pounds exit weight). Plus it just looks so cool!! Haha – this is important to us skydivers 🙂

I recently started free flying and was planning to do my CAT II & III in Free fly for my B-Licence, however – after chatting to my CI on Sat, he has recommended that I first do my CATs in flat fly so I can get my B-Licence quicker, just to have all the perks of a B-Licence, like being able to jump onto the beach at this year’s year end boogie 🙂 so that is where most of my airtime will be going from now on!

Choosing between flat flying or free flying has always been a tough decision to make, but having a nice cute new female flat flyer doing two-ways with me definitely did help my decision to do my CATs in flat flying 🙂 I know – that shouldn’t be a deciding factor, but my goal is to have a consistent jumper that I can jump with, and she will be moving on to free flying once her flat flying CATs are completed.

So – here’s my short term goal list (in order):

– Beg, borrow and steal money so I can be on my new rig by the beginning of next month
– Start my CAT II & III training / tests this weekend (in flat fly)
– Have my B-Licence by the end of the year
– Carry on with my Free Flying training
– Do my 100th jump before summer is over (around the end of March 2011)

Here’s to achieving those goals!!

This weekend we’re holding a Static Line special, as well as having our AGM. This sounds like it is going to be a huge party with lots of new faces around the DZ 🙂 As I am part of the party committee, I’m going to steal a saying from our newest female member (Maryke): “We are drinkers with a skydiving problem”.

I have found that skydiving is a way of life, it is not a sport or a hobby that one can do every now and then. Skydiving requires dedication and drive, and LOTS of time and money. No one realizes just how much skydiving actually takes over your life until you do it, it is a HUGE lifestyle change, and it changes your ambitions, your goals and just life in general. Too often I have seen people get through AFF, buy a rig, jump for a month or two and then you never see them again – I have put this down to the fact that they are not happy with the lifestyle change (or at least their partners aren’t).

Sorry – I tend to go off on a tangent every now and then and it’s hard to put everything in writing when I have to mash a few months into one article!!

Cheers everyone, here’s to everyone making their personal goals, lots of “Firsts”, down-down’s, cases of beer, laughs and good times! Plus of course awesome time spent in the sky!

Blue skies everyone and happy days!!

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Lost II (too)

So, it seems I touched on a nerve, or something twitchy, when I posted here last month about the scary hinterland that is the post A License Land of the Lost.

A lot of you have thoughts about this but are too wussy to post an actual comment, so instead I’ve had the following conversation with like ten different jumpers I know IRL.

Experienced Jumper: “So, Mar, I read your article. Interesting stuff.”

Me: “Yeah? What did you think?”

EJ: “Almost all jumpers go through this. You are not unique. Get tough. Jump with as experienced of people as you can find. This is the way you will improve.”

Me: “So, I need to be less Type A and just try to get on more jumps with anyone I can?”

EJ: “Yep. That’s exactly it.”

I also had the following conversation with all my newbie, sub-100 friends:

Newbie Jumper: “So, Mar, I read your blog. Interesting stuff.”

Me: “Yeah? What did you think?”

NJ: “I totally feel the same way. But don’t worry. We are still learning and we’re having fun, right?”

Me: “Totally. Yup, fun fun fun. Just wish I could jump with more people and learn faster.”

NJ: “Well, I’ll jump with you anytime!”

Cut to the next day, a cloudless sky and an open load.

Me: “Hey! Awesome day to jump! Who wants to jump with me?:

EJ1: “I’ve gotta jump with my four way team.”

NJ1: “I’m outta money. Sorry.”

EJ2: “I’m gonna fly video and get paid. And after that I have an AFF student.”

NJ2: “I’m working on my packing skills today.”

EJ3: “I don’t feel like packing my rig right now. Maybe later?”

NJ3: “I’m already doing a jump with the adorable new blond girl who just got off student status.”

EJ4: “How about you pay for a coach slot for me? No? Bite me.”

Me: “Seriously?” (sad face) “I guess I’ll do a high hop n pop….”

Okay. I may have exaggerated the overall response but seriously…two trips to the DZ now have garnered me very little enthusiasm for jumping with the new kid (me). Although, I did horn in on a six way belly and managed to hold my slot and not feel like the greenest of greenhorns. Which was fun.

I don’t say this to make anyone feel bad/guilty. It is no one’s job to jump with me or mentor me or somehow make this skydiving thing easy. Let’s face it: it’s not easy.

Learning to freefall is not easy.

Learning to freefly is not easy (from what tiny bit I’ve done.)

Paying for jumps is not easy.

Saving for a rig is nigh to impossible.

Saving for tunnel time: are you kidding?

Learning how to get on groups and find mentors – even for someone extremely sociable like me –  it’s tough.

I go out with a group of skydivers most Wednesday night for pizza and beers. They say I am pretty connected but I know I am still a rookie all the time when I spend time with this crew. I don’t know half of what people are talking about as they throw around initials and names of groups which always seem to start with the word Dirty.

I don’t even the answer to basic questions like this:

Pizza Cool Guy: “Hey Mar, what canopy are you flying now?”

Me: (proudly) “I downsized! I’m using a new one, the 170, and it’s going pretty well.”

PCG: “The 170 what?”

Me: (Blushing) “Uhhh. The red and orange and blue one. You know, the 170?”

PCG: “No, I mean what model?”

Me: “Yeah. Uh. It starts with an S?” (hanging head in shame)

PCG: (Shaking head disparagingly) “You should prolly figure that out.”

Me: “Yeah. I know.”

It’s like saying I drive a silver minivan, right? Sigh. So pathetic.

For some reason I cannot just memorize all these names and brands of canopies. They are just names. They all sound the same.

And yet everyone else looks into the sky and goes, “Hey! Look at Skygod’s new Spectron 2 Pulsar! What a beauty! It has 11 and a half cells. Totally state of the art! ”

Then someone else says: “I really prefer my ZLoft Velociraptor. The nose cone has ferber fiber. It’s so awesome!”

Then the naysayer has to jump in, “The ferber fiber is crap! I saw a study which clearly shows that the naperfiber in the Qw211 is much better for durability and speed!”

And then four other people, two of which who have less jumps than me, start going on and on about the ring systems and closures on each kind of container and how everybody knows that the Outback Skysword has notoriously hard openings, but a superior glide ratio so it’s totally worth it.

And I stand there, illiterate and pitiful. Wishing a ninja would come sweep me off my feet and teach me how to skydive.

Cuz it would be awesome to be a ninja skydiver.  If I was a ninja, then nobody would even know if I screwed up. And I’d look like that. Totally.

Or, it would also be cool to be a zombie skydiver because I wouldn’t need to buy an AAD.

You know, cuz zombies are already dead.

I might need more sleep.

Okay. That’s enough whining for this week.

Who wants to help me choose a canopy? Or a Halloween costume?