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Been MIA

Hey all, I know it’s been ages since I’ve posted anything…
Skydive season’s over, I’ve been dealing with tons of my “real life” stuff, work’s been hectic, planning two vacations, preparing myself for snowboard season, and simply haven’t jumped at all, so had a bit of a lack of material so to speak.

I’m actually heading to Cuba November 3rd and I’m hoping to get to jump at the DZ they have in Varadero… They use a WWII Soviet war plane and helicopter, I’m quite excited to jump from them… If they’re still running of course.

I’ll hopefully have some pictures and some updates of that one once I get back.

With this, I leave you with some badass videos:

We’ve all seen skyboarding… What about sky skiing?

I quite want to learn to do this… With a snowboard though 😛

And lastly, but not least of course :).

I’ve gotta give a shout out/credit to my buddies the Hired Guns, some of whom have taught my to skydive 😀

Blue ones!

– Adam

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Quick update

Hey guys! Quick update while I have time between classes –

This weekend is quickly approaching, and I’m extremely excited about it. Basically the University of Minnesota Skydiving Club is headed out to Skydive Twin Cities in Baldwin, Wisconsin for a day like no other. We’ve succesfully signed up over 80 tandem first-jumpers from the U of M! We weren’t expecting this many people at all, but I’m super pumped.

This club has also afforded me the opportunity to meet some awesome new people. Kaleb Lommen, our club president, introduced me to a bunch of his friends (and coworkers) from Skydive Twin Cities – many of whom have thousands of jumps and hold high ratings within the USPA. Hopefully I’ll be able to probe their minds a bit and find some pieces of skydiving wisdom, as well as improve my overall skydiving career.

So I know it’s the end of the season for most of us. Anyone jumping during the winter? Making any trips to the tunnel or maybe a BASE expedition? I’d love to hear about it!

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Balance – What’s That!?

S#1t – Life (skydiving) has been keeping me busy lately, REALLY busy!! My apologies to everyone for being so slack with blogging.

As I am now on my skydiving club’s committee, lots of hours at home are spent working on club newsletters and helping redesign the website. When I am not working on committee / club stuff I am researching my new *possible* project (more about that just now).

I am glad to say that my jump numbers have been racking up very nicely – after this past weekend, I am up to 70 :-). I know I am still in the very early stages, but hey – it’s not bad since I’ve only been jumping since March!

As I mentioned in a previous post – I’m waiting for my CI’s approval to jump my new 150 Hornet, although my wingloading is less than 1:1, my CI just wants to ensure I don’t break myself on a 150 canopy. Personally, I feel very capable of flying my canopy – but he’s the boss! His requirement of me, is to get my B-Licence and he might then agree to let me jump my rig 🙂 so – like an excited little boy on Christmas Eve (I used to open all my presents and re-wrap them and stick them back under the tree), I am doing everything I can to get my B-Licence. I passed both CAT 2 jumps this past weekend and am hoping to do my CAT 3 by the end of next month at the ABSOLUTE latest – I have a bit of practising to do in the mean time! Since I found my new jump partner (Maryke), that moved to my DZ when she found a job nearby, not a jump has passed that we aren’t both working on something (both in freefall and under canopy). So this weekend I guess I’ll be exiting slightly later than her so I can practise chasing her down and pinning the base for my CAT 3 jump :-).

We are planning a Boogie between Christmas and New Year at one of the towns on the coast line that always buzzes with parties over this period. Again – this is driving me to get my B-Licence, there is no way I’m going to sit and watch on the beach while everyone else lands on it!!

Sorry – I digress.

I have also been spending lots of time helping my coach (Michael) with a Power Point presentation on a First Jump Course, which you can imagine, is quite a bit of typing!

Tonight I am off to Michael’s place to drop off the loan 170 rig that I have been jumping as he sold it, and to pick up my new loan rig.

🙂 My *possible* new project 🙂

I have decided that South Africa needs a Vertical Wind Tunnel, and who better to build / buy one than me!? Well, probably lots of people, but I want to do it!! So I am investing huge amounts of time and effort researching, meeting with engineers and talking on the phone to suppliers in the States and Latvia.

My main concern is whether it will be financially viable to build one in South Africa; our population is tiny in comparison to other parts of the world that have a wind tunnel, furthermore – the percentage of the population that this would appeal to, is smaller still!

I am determined to do this though, even if it goes belly-up, it will be a good learning experience, but at a cost of about 60 Million Rand, a very expensive one!

I have been trying to decide if it would be financially beneficial to have local engineers design one in South Africa, verses purchasing one from overseas. I have come to the conclusion that yes, it might be Slightly cheaper, but why save a few pennies and not have the years of experience and trial and error, when for a little extra, I would get all the backup support and a state of the art 14 foot wind tunnel capable of flying a 250lb person on his/her head very easily??:-)

My next big step is to secure financial investors, but this still requires a lot of work to put a financial and business plan together for my proposal.

So – as my heading suggests, there is no balance – I find myself arriving late to just about every function that happens over a weekend because I want to squeeze in just one more jump before I have to leave.

On weather hold days, I am at the DZ watching BASE and skydiving videos, packing and re-packing 150 that I can’t jump yet.

I no longer party on the nights prior to jumping (unless it’s a Saturday and I’m drinking beer at the DZ with my jumping friends), I can’t even remember what I used to do with my weekends before I started skydiving!

Before, I never liked not being in a relationship, now – I don’t mind being single and have given up on the idea of finding a girl that would be happy with me spending me all my time, money and energy on skydiving! I want a skydiving chick! 🙂

Needless to say, I LIVE skydiving! My career goals and ambitions have changed, my personality has changed and just life in general no longer contains even a smidget of my previous life – AND I LOVE IT THIS WAY!!

Balance – WHAT’S THAT!?

Blue Skies and Happy Days!

Lance

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34 and Counting: Part II – AFF

Before I begin this, my apologies to Adam and all of you for being a slacker on the blog. I have been a little busy since my last post, but not so much as to justify my lack of blogging for so long. So yeah……I’ll take the “slacker” stamp on my forehead like a champ. Also, although I now have 44 jumps, I thought it best to leave the title of this series of writings at 34…..for continuity if nothing else. 

The holidays came and went, and 2010 got off to a good start for me. With plans to start AFF, how could it not? Things were right on track. I stayed within my budget during Christmas, and got my taxes filed within the first week of February. A week or so later, the refund showed up in my account as expected, so it was time to set things in motion. I called the Farm and scheduled my AFF training to begin on Friday, February 19th. The plan was to take a Friday off work and try to get through all of AFF in three days….not unheard of by any stretch of the imagination, especially in February when the DZ isn’t that busy. 

I showed up bright and early Friday morning. Nothing was happening at the DZ. I wondered whether anyone was even there, although Hans (the DZO) had told me there was someone who stayed there all the time, so just come on in and Andy would greet me. I walked in and looked down a dark hall, just in time to see a figure emerge from a room about mid-way down. “Morning!” he said as he stretched and yawned. “You about ready to get started?” “Yeah, whenever you are,” I said hesitantly. Now for the record, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect as I began AFF, but I’d venture to say that this wasn’t it. I pictured a more “structured and  professional” type environment. After shaking hands, we went out front and got better acquainted while Andy had a smoke and a cup of coffee. Again, not sure what type of person I was expecting as far as my AFF ground school instructor goes, but suffice to say it was not someone like Andy. Early in our conversation, all my preconceived notions about skydivers began to melt away. Here was one very cool dude, who obviously knew his shit, that was going to be almost completely responsible for my well-being as I made my first jump later that day. I embraced this fact immediately. We adjourned to the classroom, and began covering the overwhelming onslaught of info. I’d done a fair amount of reading prior to this from the SIM and a couple of other books, so most of it sounded at least somewhat familiar. But it was still a lot to take in…..especially when coupled with all the apprehension that most new jumpers experience. There were no exceptions in this area with me, as the magnitude of what I was about to do really started to sink in around mid-morning. I was okay until he began covering all the possible malfunctions. Although he used adjectives such as “minor” and “nuisance” with some of them, in no time at all my mind was in full-on pessimistic, worst-case-scenario mode. Line twists? You could die. End cell closure? You could die. Pilot chute hesitation? You could die!!! My mind ran rampant with the possibilities. Andy could see it on my face. “You okay? You look like I kinda lost you there.” “No, I’m good. Just thinking” He’d no doubt seen this reaction countless times. Visions of the great life I have kept flashing through my mind. My significant other, my dogs, my friends, my family, my health, etc. Was this worth risking all of those? Surely I couldn’t be the first to have these thoughts, so I pushed them into the back of mind, as I knew it was critical for me to absorb everything Andy was covering. Before I knew it, the clock read 2pm, and it was time to get ready for my first AFF jump.

Andy was one of my two instructors. The other was Jesse, who I’d met a couple of month earlier. He did my Dad’s video when he jumped on his 70th birthday. I really liked him, so this made me feel a little better about things at this point. We went to mock-up and reviewed the dive flow several times. Although utterly simple now, remembering all of the steps, when to do them, and putting them into practice seemed nearly impossible then. As we got on the plane and reviewed the dive flow on the way up, the fear was almost paralyzing. Even with two instructors, I quickly realized that it was a whole different ball of wax when it’s up to YOU to throw out that pilot chute and save your own ass. Andy and Jesse were doing their best to tell me to breathe, relax and whatnot, but I was having none of it. As we got to altitude and people began exiting, I really began to wonder if I could do it. When it was our turn, the jury was still out in my mind, but somehow my body began going through the motions. Before I knew it, the three of us were falling together. A few signs to correct my body position, and I began my COAs and PRCPs. Kept checking my altitude and pulled for myself right on time at 5500’. The 280 sq. ft. canopy inflated beautifully over my head, and what a glorious site it was. Jesse was coaching me on the radio. I flew a good pattern, albeit outside the south tree line, and damn near stood up the landing. It was completely overwhelming…..everything I’d hoped it would be and more. But as good as it was, I’d soon find out that it wasn’t good enough to quiet the voices in my head. 

We returned to the hangar, where I was debriefed and told “Good job. You made it to level 2.” I called home to check in and let my s.o. know I’d survived my first AFF jump. Only then did I voice my feelings for the first time. “Babe, I’m not sure that I’m cut out for this,” I told her. “I was absolutely terrified, but I was able to do it.” We talked for a bit longer, and to her credit and my surprise, she didn’t try to discourage me from continuing…..something that probably wouldn’t have been too hard to do at that point. She was my no means really encouraging so to speak, but she does want me to be happy and do the things that make me that way. After hearing about skydiving for several months, she knew it meant a lot to me. So I dismissed my reservations as normal for a newb, and onward we went to level 2. 

We went through the same routine with level 2. I Met with my instructors, went over the dive flow, and headed to the bus. Long story short, level 2 was also successful, and even though I was able to do it, I still wasn’t feeling very motivated to continue with AFF. It was still very stressful, and honestly, pretty terrifying to me. The reality of what I was doing really hit home once I was in the plane on the way to altitude. Getting into position at the door on these first two AFF jumps remains a surreal experience to this day! After I passed level 2, daylight was fading, and there wasn’t enough time left for anymore jumps. I took the opportunity to decompress and talk to a few other experienced jumpers about my feelings. I was brutally honest with them about my feelings. But at the end of the day, everyone confirmed that many before me had experienced the same uncertainty early on, and suggested I stick with it through all of AFF. If I still felt the same say after getting through all 7 levels, then maybe it really wasn’t for me and I should take a hard look at my reasons for skydiving. I took this advice to heart, and left the DZ with a commitment to return the next day and try to bust out levels 3, 4 and 5. 

I returned to the DZ early the next morning, still apprehensive but ready to get on with things. Sleep the night before had been a futile effort, as my mind was racing in 100 different directions lying in bed, so on top of the stress and adrenaline, I was tired and not my usual rested self. So I got through level 3 with no major issues, other than trying to make peace with myself on what I was actually doing. Level 4 was a different story. Not really sure what happened, but I was VERY uptight (even moreso than usual), and naturally it showed up in the dive. It was almost like I was too scared to even TRY to demonstrate things on the way down. As a result, I pretty much locked onto my altimeter at about 8k, and just waited until my pull altitude without even really trying to do any maneuvers. Needless to say, level 4 was the one that I didn’t pass. After that, I decided to call it a day and do a little more soul searching and talking to people. I’d pretty much decided that the plan of getting done with AFF in one weekend was shot, and I didn’t care. It would’ve been nice, but I wasn’t on any schedule and just wanted be comfortable with things and do them when I felt ready at that point. I left the DZ that evening with a plan of coming back the next day to re-do level 4 and see what happened from there. 

I got to the DZ early again Sunday morning. I was assigned a different instructor for my second attempt at level 4. I’m not sure if it was the difference in teaching styles, but I felt much more comfortable this time around. Not that there was anything wrong with my first instructor for level 4, but it just felt better and more relaxed this time. Long story short, the “Oh….I see what this is all about” skydiving light bulb came on during my second attempt at level 4. It went perfectly! So much so, that I felt like a complete dumbass for not getting through it the first time. Very relaxed, and dare I say, FUN! Debriefed and immediately went back up for level 5, which was the first jump that really felt comfortable and in control to me. I could’ve kept going and possibly knocked out levels 6 and 7, but decided to just quit on a good note and soak in the vibe at the DZ, as I was still enjoying meeting and talking to so many new and (mostly) helpful people. I popped a few beers and just roamed around and mingled the rest of the day, and resolved to come back the next Saturday to complete AFF. 

I showed up the following Saturday morning feeling really good about things, and after looking forward to it all week, was definitely ready to jump. I was really stoked about being able to leave the plane on my own. This made me more comfortable than being linked to an instructor for some reason. Anyway, levels 6 and 7 were much less stressful to me than the earlier dives, and went off pretty much without a hitch. My level 7 instructor debriefed me, and after doing so, held out his hand and said “Congratulations. You made it through AFF.” It was a great feeling. An announcement was made over the PA, which was followed by cheers and applause. Again, I could’ve kept on jumping and gotten my first solo, but I decided to call it a day to celebrate. It was a good day! 

The sights, sounds and smells of my AFF experience were my first real impressions of skydiving and will remain seared into my memory, if not my soul, forever! Although fear and uncertainty dominated my emotions early on, I wouldn’t trade having to deal with such feelings for anything. That which does not kill us makes us stronger, right? Successfully pushing through such potentially paralyzing feelings has been very rewarding and motivating to say the least. I look forward to many more of the emotions that only skydiving can provide!

Until next time, Blue Skies my friends!

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Helicopter jump

So it’s nearly the end of the season in Quebec and in most places actually…
Although there’s still a couple of weeks left to the season, it’s over for me at this point.

I ended it with a bang though, got my first helicopter jump done (4000 feet).
And yes, I bought beer… And rum actually haha.

To give some of you a quick description of what it’s like to do a heli jump as opposed to a normal skydive from a plane, when you jump from the chopper, you’re getting off out of a vehicle that’s barely moving, so you actually get that feeling that you’re falling at first. When you jump off a plane, the plane’s moving at about 80 mph, so when you jump, there’s wind pushing you in some direction, the wind you’re feeling (Called relative wind) starts off on the side (opposite direction that the plane is moving in) and ends up in front of you (you’re falling down, wind seems to be blowing up)

I don’t know why for certain, but, once you’re actually in the relative wind, you don’t feel yourself falling, you feel as if you’re static in one place.
With the helicopter jump, you feel yourself falling until you’ve accelerated enough to reach a speed at which you once again feel motionless.
It’s quite the similar feeling to a bungee jump.
Base jumping is also the same feeling as this.
It’s something I’d do again, but it’s not that high on my priority list…

Blue ones everyone!
-Adam