Rob’s AFF Level 2 Jump

Well, back at it again. Off to the DZ I go. Not exactly what I thought I’d be doing on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. This time my wife and son came along for encouragement. Yes, I’m sure at that at one point her thoughts of my skydiving adventures were a moot point with no further discussion. The trick here is to slowly present the sport in bits and pieces; not over whelming her with a crazy adrenaline-driven story about jumping out of a perfectly good plane. You have to show some repose and present a demeanor that lets your loved ones know that you truly know what you’re doing and have a great respect for the sport. Actually, with all seriousness, I would say that anybody considering skydiving should be reserved enough to carefully think about what they are getting into so that their intentions are not miss lead.

I called the DZ in the morning to see what would be a good time for an AFF student to arrive. I was advised that there were some tandem reservations already setup around noon and that I might be able to get in before or, definitely after those jumps. I arrived at the DZ around 10:30 a.m. It appeared that things were still getting started. I checked in at the manifest desk. The nice lady put my name on a list with other students and then advised me that as soon as she could find me two Jump Masters she’d let me know. She also pointed out that winds were boarder line, averaging between 19 to 22 mph. AFF students cannot jump when wind speeds are greater than 19 mph. Looks like I’m grounded for the time being. One Jump Masters, that was with me on my first jump, gave me a copy of the level 2 skills and suggested that I study them until the wind died down.

Ok, this is the hurry up and wait part. I’ve discovered that the AFF student is at the mercy of the weather and the availability of Jump Masters. I started going over the skill sheet; physically rehearsing the movements as if I was getting ready for an audition. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look anything like a line dance.

The first two tandem loads went quick enough. However, I soon found that I had to explain the whole wait-my- turn thing to my wife and son They were not quite sure why I wasn’t plunging from the sky yet. After all, they came to cheer me on, but it looked like the pompoms were wilting as the day went on.

It wasn’t until jump 5 I finally got the word I was going up. My JM hooked me up with all my gear and told me to get dressed. This time I was able to get a larger set of goggles that would fit over my prescription sunglasses. Man, it sure is bright without them.

Well, Mother Nature likes to tease. Just as we were getting ready to board the plane we were advised that there would be a fifteen minute hold as winds had picked up to 23mph. Great! Not again. I slowly started to realize that all this could be scrubbed. This has happened multiple times during our Parachute Mobile Missions. Fortunately, the winds subsided and off we went.

I must say, I was a lot more relaxed this time and felt assured that with each jump it would only get easier. On the ascent my JM asked me to verbally recite the jump sequence and to let him know when we reached 5,500 feet and to explain what I would be doing at that altitude on the way down. No problem. I would be deploying my parachute, just so you all know. Getting out to the outside edge of the plane seemed to go a lot smoother than before, but since I’m tall, I found that I really had to lean forward on the way out to avoid clunking the back of my head. I’m looking forward to face-out exits. My “check in & check out” sequence was a lot smoother and I didn’t delay with the stepp-off.

The level 2 skills are easy enough: one practice pull, a left and right turn and 4 to 5 seconds of tracking. Tracking is when you bring in your arms and straighten out your legs. This creates lateral movement as well as speed. This was actually kind of cool. I had to resist the temptation to put one fisted arm forward and the other next to my chest; ya, the Superman flight position. The only area that I really blew this time was my deployment pull. If you look at the video you will see that when I reached for the pilot chute I didn’t keep my body position natural and my left leg swung over to the right. Practice, practice, practice.

I hope to get level 3 and 4 completed this Sunday. Not sure I’ll always have video available; it all depends on the JM I am assigned. Anyone that wants to come out and make faces at me are more than welcome.

Until next time,

Rob Fenn

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