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The Gaming Universe  |  General  |  General Chit Chat  |  Now I'm freeeeee! Freefallin'!
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Author Topic: Now I'm freeeeee! Freefallin'!  (Read 78 times)

Offline Guardian

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Now I'm freeeeee! Freefallin'!
« on: November 16, 2017, 07:43:59 PM »
I was in the U.S. Army Airborne (2 different units) for nine years, and it has been that many years since I last jumped with them, ending my run with 42 jumps (the last one with the Germany military).  Today, I got my 43rd jump--again with German military--only this time, I got my first ever tandem freefall jump.  IOW, I went skydiving!  Something I dreamed of doing for so many years (which I had previously chickened out of when I jumped with the Belgians ten years ago because I was afraid I weighed too much) is now an item checked off my list of things to do in life.  Let me tell you a little about it.

First of all, let's keep in mind that I'm now 40 years old, way out of practice AND unfamiliar with this method of jumping, and prone to injury.  Ladylion and our two youngest, Ladybug and Snugglebug came to watch--and photo, as her phone's lack of memory couldn't take a vid--so I got some moral support.  After finding the middle-of-nowhere drop zone, I checked in with the others in my unit who were manifested for today.  We went through a brief crash course (pun intended) for our particular roles, which isn't much seeing as how the actual jumper I'm to be strapped to is the one doing all the work.  Then came a lot of waiting, some of it in some very unforgiving sunlight.  I watched other groups go and hit the landing zone (LZ), though several missed--one even ended up in some cactus:^(  Needless to say, my neck hurts and I'm a little sun-baked.

Then came the harness, which wasn't too big a deal as my tandem master went over the procedures again.  The thing was more comfortable than I remember rigs to be--though that's not saying much, since they never are--but it certainly did the job.  I was also given goggles and a black leather "bullet head" helmet like football players used to wear decades ago.  Then a little more waiting until it was finally time for my group to load onto the bird (plane).

They warned us it would be cold up there, but apparently that was only valid in the early hours of the first group.  I was in the third, so I was really hot throughout the whole thing.  After burning up most of the day, I expected some chilly temps in the bird between 7-10k feet, but alas I was still burning up.  As uncomfortable and--in rare form--as scared as I was (jumping never scared me except with the Belgians), I spent the time in the plane wondering if I would ever go through this again.  This was especially true when the back door opened and I stood to hook up to my tandem master (let's call him J).  J spent a lot of time reassuring me and reminding me of how we were going to proceed and communicate.  He's a good guy; he'd better be if I was going to be strapped up against him like that!  lol 

Anyway, when it came time to jump, we stood at the edge and waited for the command.  I was told to assume the Exit Position (which basically had me hugging my shoulders with my head jacked backward and my legs curled up under J's legs.  Then I waited some more while he did whatever he was supposed to do to exit.

Then came the fall.  He said it would be a basic nosedive, but what ended up happening was we fell sideways for some reason.  To straighten us out, he pulled a drogue chute (smaller parachute meant to keep us falling straighter).  Once we got situated, he allowed me to throw my arms up in 90-degree angles for the rest of the freefall.  I expected a lot more g-force or wind resistance, but what I got was first a strange tumble followed by a lot of wind whipping up at me with nowhere near as much force.  Then it was just kind of a thing--with a nice view, don't get me wrong--until the main chute deployed.

Once I was given the command to return to the exit position for J to pull the main chute, there was this odd weightlessness before I felt a shock that jerked my neck down.  Nine years of Airborne jumps made me want to put my chin in my chest for that part, but I was told this time not to, so the shock hurt a little bit.  When we finally slowed into our "cruising descent", things got a lot easier. 

This was the part that was worth everything.  The fall felt so easy, I never had so much hang time in my life (like two to three minutes), and it was gorgeous (even in a desert)!  J handed me the steering loops, which was fun at first before my arms started getting tired.  Did I mention how much hang time?  lol  I got to do a few turns and circles before my arms started to tingle and strain (though my biceps felt so solid afterward).  I was about to ask him to take them back when he motioned for them, and I was happy to oblige.  J also had me "stand on his feet" so I can pull my "seat" down for more comfort, but the leg straps that served as that seat didn't want to move down, so I was S.O.L. there.

Then came the landing.  During the crash course, I was told I only needed to be able to hold my legs up so we could slide in on our butts.  That sounded easy.  What I didn't take into account was that rig getting in the way, making the task so much harder to do.  Luckily, J had me practice on the way down--though he didn't tell me it was practice.  When I first did it, I had trouble getting up there, so I had to reach for my calf pockets and pull them up, which slipped the cuffs right out of my boots (something they said to do anyway before I jumped--now I know why).  When the actual landing happened and I pulled my calf pockets, it still wasn't high enough, so I really had to dig deep to accomplish this feat.  J had maneuvered us right onto the LZ, which is basically the one patch of green grass in the whole desert for miles (it seemed), so the landing was smooth as a playground slide.  Score!

The rest was unhooking, recovering his chute, and getting into the hangar to drop it all, and that was that. 

Overall, it was a worthwhile experience that I spent years dreaming about.  It didn't quite live up to my expectations, but I would definitely go again if given the chance.  I thank God for a successful operation where no one was seriously injured (though one guy ended up in cactus and another hitting the hangar in some way).  If you get a chance, I recommend taking it--especially if it's for free!
« Last Edit: November 18, 2017, 03:18:06 PM by Guardian »
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Offline Aegis Runestone

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Re: Now I'm freeeeee! Freefallin'!
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2017, 03:32:22 PM »
Dang, sounds like a lot of fun.
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