We finally had some good weather on a weekend for a change so the dropzone was busy busy. I made eleven jumps total and even came away with a decent picture of me exiting the plane with a tandem. My passenger was a wounded warrior who was injured in Iraq. He’s still got a long road ahead of him but the jump really lifted his spirits.
We just finished hosting an Accelerated Free Fall instructors course at my dropzone Skydive Twin Cities and boy am I sore! Candidates trying to get their ratings are required to go through an intense week long program that tests their teaching ability’s along with their free fall skills. To prove they have what it takes to supervise real skydiving students the candidates go up alone or as a pair with an experienced evaluator, me the one in green and white, who plays the part of the worst student imaginable. We give them crappy unstable exits, spin uncontrollably on our belly or backs and of course never ever remember to pull. The candidates must be able to catch us, flip us over, give us the correct hand signals to fix our body position and then pull our ripcord on time, all while falling at speeds of up to one hundred fifty miles an hour. As an evaluator I’ve had students accidentally pull my pilot chute and track off with it still in his hand twice, been hit so hard I saw stars and came down with a bloody nose and had to kick candidates off me to get away when we got too low. It’s very exciting. We graduated eight instructors from the course and will soon turn them lose on real students and hope we didn’t make a mistake. In the mean time I’m going to go soak in the hot tub, did I mention I’m sore?
The United States Parachute Association recommends that every DZ (drop zone or skydiving school for all you Wuffos) set aside one day a year for a safety day. yesterday was safety day at Skydive Twin Cities . My instructors gave talks on gear maintenance, canopy flying, aircraft operations and first aid. My job was to run everyone through the hanging harness and get them up to speed on emergency procedures. The hanging harness is basically a skydiving simulator that has the cutaway and reserve handles on it that a jumper can pull in response to the emergency situations I throw at them. It’s great training and seeing that I love to torture students lots of fun. I love to make up preposterous situations with unlikely twists and see how well the jumper can handle them. My goal is to get them to keep fighting all the way to the ground even in what might seem like an hopeless situation. I kill a lot of them, because I cheat, but in the end they come out of it better prepared to deal with a malfunction that most of them will have some day. I also like to get them to think outside the box, although I hate that saying. My favorite is to tell them that they have come out of the clouds over a large lake and have no hope of getting to shore and ask them what they think they should do. It usually takes a minute to get them to tell me that they maybe look for a boat to land close to. I then ask them why they want to land next to a boat,
“What do they have in a boat that you will want?”
“A life jacket?” “No.” “A radio?” “No.” “First aid kit?” “No.”
“If you skydive into a lake in the summertime and land next to a boat they are going to give you a BEER!”
Hopefully it’s a Guinness, for strength. Safety First you know.
With the Twin Otter finally showing up late Friday Afternoon all the jumpers at Skydive Twin Cities were excited and ready to go but mother nature had different plans. Low clouds on Friday and Saturday forced everyone to find other forms of entertainment. There’s nothing more dangerous than bored skydivers so it was a good thing that the sun finally showed up yesterday and allowed everyone to grab some air. The video is one of my entry’s in our annual film festival and show’s you what I do for a living when I’m not flying.