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Old Jul 08, 2011, 05:10 PM
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UK, North Down, Bangor
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Took off in a plane, landed on my own.

Posted this elsewhere, but... why not

So... as of 2 o'clock on Sunday I have taken off in a plane one more time than I have landed in a plane.

How is this possible... well, I jumped out of it didn't I!

Solo, static line, ram air parachute jump from 3,500ft. 200 for the training (8 hours!) and the first jump.

I pretty much focused on what I had to do, not what was going to happen, it was the only way to keep my fear in check so I would get out the door of the plane. So when he said, "No. 3 feet out.", I got in the door and when he said "GO!", I went...

Then my whole world exploded in pure primordial terror. "1 thousand...", watched the plane wheel disappear upwards out of view, an insane blast of air and the feeling of accelerating rapidly, falling VERY, VERY fast. Roaring wind pulling at you, the scenery below, on your own. "What the hell have I just done!?!?!? You idiot." At this stage T+2 I had actually forgotten I had a parachute, I was well in a world of fear.... fear too fast for adrenaline to kick in.

Then, there was a small tug, a few eye blinks later a huge pull on the harness and a big swing forward, and I remembered I had a parachute. Don't remember "2 thousand" or "3 thousand", but I remember saying, "4..." and looking up to see a big yellow/black parachute.... with..... twists in the lines!

It was still surreal at this stage, I now just felt like I was "hanging around" at 3,000ft above the scenery and I had a problem. So I pushed fear out of the way and acted, trying first to kick myself round with no success, so I summoned some balls and grabbed the two "risers" pulled them apart and started swinging, kicking my legs until finally the twist spun out and I spun round 180 degrees and the parachute actually now looked like it could be landed.

Quick check to make sure my emergency handles were still stowed and safe and found my chest strap up near my neck and my altimeter beside my chin.... I'd forgotten to tug the leg straps tight! So while I was still secure in the harness and fairly comfortable I was sunk down into it with my shoulder straps sitting up 6 inches above my shoulders... which made the next task more difficult.

I reached up grabbed my control toggles and pulled them out of their elastics, then I started looking for the landing arrow. Couldn't find it, looking through fields for ages, I decided I'd need to do my control checks anyway, so started into a right hand turn, just as I heard, "No. 3, Left turn, left, left, left, left toggle down, all the way down...", so I opted for a left turn and 10 to 20 seconds later, I seen the arrow in the landing field.

To be honest, I let the guy guide me in, but I was very much aware that it was me up here and I had my life in my hands, his guidance was just a backup.

The wind had changed and they were actually moving the arrow around to point in a different direction and I found myself on a straight in approach, but was convinced I was too high, following the ground instructor though I quickly realised he was flying me in gentle S bends until he said, "No. 3 fly straight into the arrow just keep it straight."

It's quite hard to judge your height, I could see another parachute below me making a low turn to land, and I still felt high, but the wind was stronger and as I got closer to the ground I figured I was actually going to land somewhere near the arrow.

The ground starts to rush at a few hundred feet, well inside the field, just needed to hold the thing straight while the wind tugged at me a bit in turbulence. Got myself into the landing fall position, feet together, knees bend, chin tucked down, 100 feet (ish) and the radio again, "Okay, ready to flare, hold, wait, wait, wait, WAIT, Now FLARE!" Probably only 10 feet up I pulled both toggles right down, and the parachute slowed rapidly and almost stopped dead, so I came out of the landing fall position and tried to put my feet down, but... was still about 2 foot up, then suddenly I dropped, BUMP onto terra firma and just had to take two steps forward to keep upright.

Landing stood up meant the parachute was still happily flying above me! They hadn't taught us how to deal with this though! I grabbed one riser (one set of lines) and pulled on it and felt the wind pull back, so I dropped down onto my knees in case it pulled me over and waited for it to fall to the ground, got up and ran around the back of it as it collapsed in a heap, legs like jelly. Scooped up my chute and walked over to the instructors with a HUGE grin on my face. I aced my first landing!

Exit debrief was waiting for me when I got back, "Good position, good exit, good spread, weak arch, no count". Aww well, not bad and I survived which is the main achievement.

I might even do it again! Even though it scared the absolute hell out of me, those 2-3 seconds out the door, fear like I've never felt it before!

EDIT: It's now Friday and.... weather is looking good for jumping.... girlfriend wants to go up and jump.... that means I will go and jump again! Am I 'ing nuts?

Paul
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Old Jul 10, 2011, 12:31 AM
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I am NOT afraid of heights, but have always wanted to ask...Why would anyone willingly exit a perfectly good aircraft...in flight?
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Old Jul 10, 2011, 04:44 AM
SB-28 UK Display Pilot
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Joined Jul 2001
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Paul
Go do it again.
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Old Jul 10, 2011, 01:19 PM
Occasional useful idiot...
Joined Nov 2009
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I was worried when I read this.

Quote:
Quick check to make sure my emergency handles were still stowed and safe and found my chest strap up near my neck and my altimeter beside my chin.... I'd forgotten to tug the leg straps tight! So while I was still secure in the harness and fairly comfortable I was sunk down into it with my shoulder straps sitting up 6 inches above my shoulders... which made the next task more difficult.
Whoever checked you before you got on the plane deserves his meat and two veg giving a good kicking. You should never have been allowed on the plane without a THOROUGH check of your equipment. That means physically pulling at straps to ensure their tightness. Another worry was they didn't tell you to yank a line down to get the parachute to stall into the floor on landing.

Your story is a great read though, makes me remember my static line jump. I was so gripped by fear at the door, I could only remember the emergency cutaway drill and nuisance factors. A couple of seconds looking at a rather nice view of Cambridgeshire, then a quick look up. Big,square,full of air,slider up,no twisted lines, yeh that'll do for me! COMPLETELY forgot to arch on exit, or count!

Remember landing being a bugger too, I think I was running in mid air thinking I had landed! As it was, it was perfect. Right on the pointy bit of the arrow indicating wind direction and so smooth I never felt a bump.

Needles to say, I thought that I could never top that one and decided never to do it again.
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Old Jul 11, 2011, 07:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeeW View Post
Paul
Go do it again.
Well... funny you should say that. Went up and did it yesterday again!

Much more scary sitting on the plane ride up, cause I knew now what was coming. But... I went into procedure mode, as you do, so when he said, "Right lets go" and motioned me forward I got in the door, feet out, feeling the wind drag at my boots and nearly drag me out, then teetering on the edge as I got my hands in the correct position.

A little fluffy cloud appeared below the plane as I seen the larger part of it approach in front and "GOOO!!!" BANG "1 thousand...", blast of air, white out, falling inside a ping pong ball, face felt wet and cold, This time I knew it was coming and so I just kept counting and then much more gently this time I felt the tug and then more and more pressure on my shoulders, vibration rocking me about and "4 thousand, check canopy".... big bright yellow, full, square parachute, with no twists. Yee ha!

"Time to have some fun!", checked my handles, grabbed the toggles, howlered something at the top of my lungs like "WOOOHOOO, Yeeehaa!!! Ahahahahahahaha!", did a big 360, spotted the arrow and then just played around remaining upwind of the field. First flying directly away, into the wind and watching the houses and hedges under my feet to see if I was flying forwards or backwards. Definitely forwards, so started doing S's towards the field keeping it on my shoulder, under about 1200ft when I aimed into the field for the far corner for turn to final and give myself the whole length of the field for approach. Alas I crossed into the field about 500ft and got the radio call to turn on final, so I did. Turning low = bad, so 500ft, you get on final and keep it there, good position or not.

Unfortunately this had now pointed me directly at a hedge in the far corner and... it was getting close! I was starting to think about how I was going to land in a hedge and not get hurt.... but I landed about 15ft short of it.

Again I stopped about 2 foot up on the flare, pedalled a few times, like going up stairs and expecting a final stair that isn't there! Then bump, down on my feet, thought about holding it, but my legs where too much like jelly so I just crumpled onto my back side. Quick "Woo Hoo". Then fend off the cows while I watched my girlfriend land... she flared at about 25ft up, stopped about 20ft and fell vertically down into the grass, took a bit of a tumble, but jumped back up in anger at screwing up.... clump of grass sticking out of her helmet.

She now gets the nickname, "Tumble weed". We both laugh that she is lucky she missed all the cow pats cause she would have gone in face first!
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Old Jul 11, 2011, 07:13 AM
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No video of the jump, not allowed to wear a camera until 200 jumps

Friends caught the take off though. This has to be one of the most dangerous parts of the flight. Cessna 206, no seats bar the pilots. 4 jumpers with parachute gear on the floor + the jump master and his shoot leaning forward over us to keep the weight forward. This wee plane does not want to take off and misses the trees by mere feet!

Take off for raps jump (2 min 16 sec)


Bizarrely... Once the plane clears 800ft or so, if something goes wrong it's not "Brace, brace, brace", it's "RIGHT EMERGENCY, UP and OUT, GO, GO, GO!"
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