If there’s one thing I love about being somewhere between a beginner and intermediate freeflyer is this: ZOO dives!
I know many people who get annoyed by zoo dives. We had a plan, it went to shit, and there’s disappointment and failure in that. So, I kinda get that. But as I see it, even if the plan doesn’t go, well, as planned, it’s still a skydive, and it’s still fun! Besides, when you’re in that experience range of 200-500 skydives, you’re at a place where you can think on the fly (pun intended) and turn the jump into something else entirely.
Take, for example, a 6-way skydive that ended the Jump for Diabetes a couple weeks back. We had a plan to have 4 guys as the base on their bellies and two of us as divers out of the King Air in hopes of catching the 4-way round and selecting one person in that circle to rodeo for the remainder of the jump.
Sounds totally doable, but as I was doing my first rodeo out the door, I realized that this jump was already headed in a different direction – so I held on for a longer rodeo! Funny thing was, Matt didn’t even know I was there till I poked my head around to his right!
After letting go I realized that the 4-way base never made it there, so they ended up improvising and doing a hybrid with the three guys who remained linked. Good stuff right there!
Then, lucky for me, I was able to release into a backfly to check this out, only to see Doug floating away from the attempted 4-way in a sit – so I jumped into a sit with him from afar.
Check it out on the video. It doesn’t look as fun as it was, but let me tell you that everyone enjoyed this skydive more than expected. It didn’t go as planned, at all, starting with me changing the plan immediately out the door, but we all just enjoyed our time in the sky, figuring out ways to make it a bad ass skydive no matter what. The smiles in the LZ were huge after that jump!
This is just one example of the funness (yep, I just made that a word) that can be had on zoo dives. The other thing, is that when things don’t go as planned, it forces you out of your comfort zone. So say you miss the exit count and everyone loses their grips, you’re the forced to learn how to get it back together – whether it’s on your belly, your feet or on your head. As I see it, zoo dives have the potential to make you a better skydive, if you use that time wisely :).
One other thing not to forget, is safety. There are always safety issues that can arise on a skydive, regardless if they go as planned or not. But when they don’t, you get into additional issues like fall rates and separation and deployment. Be sure that, if the dive goes to crap, you know where all of your jumping partners are in the sky. When in doubt, flip over on your back to check out who might be above you before you deploy. And make sure you track away like there’s no tomorrow to ensure safe separation.
Okay, off my soapbox now – but that when promoting zoo dives, that had to be mentioned!
So, if you’re into zoo dives, I highly recommend keeping an eye on the Skydive Chick blog. I’m always posting videos of the crazy things we’re up to in the sky.
Like my friend’s 200th that went from “hey let’s do a hybrid” to total freefly zoo!
Hope everyone had a very jumpable weekend.