Yesterday evening, Melissa and I made jumps #8 and #9. We are both loving the sport, the experience and the drop zone.
As we progress through our AFF course, we have gone through categories A - E already (E has been my favorite so far) and are working through F. F is comprised of three jumps, the first two are called hop and pops. This is when you deploy your canopy immediately after exiting the aircraft from a lower altitude. My first jump of the evening was from 5500’ and the second jump was from 3500’. The purpose of these jumps in the progression is to get you comfortable with the idea that the exit is exactly the same, you are just pulling sooner, and you can handle an aircraft emergency by exiting the plane a lower altitude.
These two jumps were completely different experiences than the jumps where I had more than 5 seconds of free fall. They had a sort of ‘James Bond’ feel to them. Jumping out at a low altitude and deploying immediately while still looking at the plane flying away has a sort of “HAHA I escaped!” mentality. The thing that surprised me the most was when deploying the canopy, the relative wind was not coming from directly below, but in front of me a little bit from the forward momentum of the plane, so when the canopy catches the wind it swings you back a bit like a pendulum. After exiting the aircraft, I was still on the hill when pulling my pilot chute out, still looking at the plane as it gets smaller and smaller. For both jumps, I was under a fully deployed canopy within 500’ of my exit.
Next I’ll be learning to track, which is transitioning into more control over my jump and adding a ‘flying’ aspect in addition to the ‘falling’ aspect. This will also open more doors for when jumping with other people. Controlling my position relative to other people in a formation will be a bit important.
I’ll give a quick summary of what our jumps have been so far
Category A: Classroom and just staying stable (w/ 2 instructors) Category B: Relaxing (w/ 2 instructors) Category C1: Being stable without instructor grips (w/ 2 instructors) Category C2: Being stable without instructor grip (w/ 1 instructor) Category D1: Turning 90 degrees and 180 degrees in each direction (w/ 1 instructor) Category D2: Turning 360 degrees in each direction (w/ 1 instructor) Category E: Barrel roll, front flip, and back flip. Regaining stability from unstable position (w/ 1 instructor) Category F1: Hop and Pop from 5500 feet (w/ 1 coach in the plane but solo exit) Category F2: Hop and Pop from 3500 feet (w/ 1 coach in the plane but solo exit)
In addition, the canopy rides have been quite fun. I like pulling the toggles as much as possible and spiraling towards the ground, feeling the G’s push me into my harness like a roller coaster going through tight turns. I have stood all my landings except my very first jump which has been nice. Lately I have been overshooting my target by a little bit with basically no winds, so that is one area that I am working on and getting better with each jump.
I’m looking forward to learning more about controlling my flying/falling and learning to jump with others. Mondays have taken on a whole new persona, due to the fact that we mostly jump Monday evenings. Good times and blue skies!