Well the weather cleared up Friday after all. It was a beautiful jump. So I made it out to the DZ at 10 to make it on the first load. My second instructor was running a bit late, so I was put on load 2. The DZ was a little busy so we got fly the TO instead of the Caravan. When I was at the DZ on Monday, I was sure to pay attention to the instruction given to the young lady (I think her name was Janelle) that was doing L2. Now that I had proved I could deploy my own chute, it was time to work on body position.
This jump adds a 90˚ left team turn, a 90˚ right team turn and a 4-second forward team movement. I knew I could do the third maneuver since I’d done it accidentally in both L1 jumps in attempts to find the sweet spot for my leg position. We practiced on the ground on the spinny thing (I forget what it’s called) and at the mock up. We geared up and prepped for the jump.
I was a little nervous again but at least knew what to expect. There were two tandems and two teams with us on the load so I knew I’d be the last one off as always. I, somewhat successfully, tried to calm down on the ride up. I wasn’t too worried about remember the dive flow. I’d done it twice now and remembered both times. Adding the three maneuvers to the extra freefall time would be a piece of cake…yeah, right.
The two teams exiting before us at 13.5 took their time exiting, so we had to circle back around. This was not helpful on the nerves. The exit was a little less than stellar. I tried to arch better, but it’s really hard to do that when you’re looking down at the ground instead of chin up like you’re supposed to. I had this same problem with skating for hockey at first. I always wanted to watch my feet. Anyhoo, my positioning was a bit off so it took us a while to get stabilized. I tried to follow the leg signals I was given, but I still need to work on minor adjustments, so there was still a lot of overcorrecting. After my practice pulls, I initiated the left turn. I didn’t do a very good job. We sorta did a turn, but it wasn’t 90˚. They signaled to neutralize and try the other turn. It went about as well as the right until Terry pushed my shoulder down a little further. I was trying to do all of the turn with my arm and not my whole upper body. It definitely worked a little better, but was pretty slow.
By this point, we were at 7,500 ft, so I didn’t have time to continue with the forward movement. Here’s where it got a little interesting. We neared 6,000 and I was ready to wave off when all of a sudden, my altimeter flipped out and bounced down to 5,000 and back up to below 6,000. I knew that an altimeter malfunction meant pull and I was just reaching back as Terry gave me the pull hand sign. I complied as I had already planned to and had an uneventful canopy ride. In retrospect, the winds aloft were a bit strong, so I got a little closer to the landing area than I needed to initially, but Greg helped me find the proper playground via radio.
We debriefed and discussed that my body position wasn’t good enough to be let go of yet (necessary for L3) so, I knew I had to repeat L2. At this point it was only 2ish so I had more than enough time to stay around for another attempt. This is starting to get expensive. Understandably, you have to repay the cost of the entire jump to redo it. These early jumps are more expensive because you have two instructors with you for the jump. But, I knew I hadn’t found that sweet spot yet, and knew that it was important to do so.
We didn’t have to wait too long before it was time to gear up for the last load of the day (#4). My consistent chute (99-3, a 250 sqft lime green, yellow and pink canopy) was repacked just in time for me to take it back up. Our equipment check was quick, but safe. Since I’d just used the rig, I knew where everything was to check and was prepped to go.
Arch. Arch. Arch. That’s the only word I was thinking about on the way up other than keeping an eye on where we were over the DZ and relaxing. Apparently mind over matter doesn’t really work for me. We exited better and I kept my chin up, but I still couldn’t find the right position. We “potato chipped” quite a bit and it took a while to stabilize. Once we did, I did my checks and started the left turn. It was much better. We didn’t have time for any other maneuvers. I waved and pulled with no problems. The canopy ride was a bit better placed in the playground. I was much more aware of the winds aloft and knew I needed to steer away from the DZ for a while. The landing was a bit muddy due to the recent rain but pretty solid. I still failed due to the unstable body position. I decided to take a break until Friday. I’ve gotta practice arching at home. I just have to teach my body how to bend that way. It’ll happen. I just can’t keep paying for rejumps. Blue skies!