„So why did you decide to sign up for this course?“ Because all my friends over here are skydivers. And I would like to know what their passion is about to understand them better. To understand why they jump several times a day out of a plane. I was just curious.
Yes, after spending a year in Namibia. A year surrounded by skydivers. A year where I spent most of my weekends at the dropzone watching people falling from the sky. Watching the camera guys racing down. Watching the tandems coming dawn. Watching solo jumpers landing. Laughing at people tumbling at the landing. Jumping with my friends out of the plane while I was strapped to a tandem master. And yes I spent as well a lot of time listing to their conversations. About skydiving. Without understanding really about what they are talking. Independent from the language they spoke. Afrikaans or English. I could not participate in the conversation. And I spend all my free time with them. In the water during surfing. At the beach while enjoying the sun. In the riverbed while climbing up some rocks. Or having a braai. Camping. Partying in town. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. The topic of Skydiving is permanently part of it. Part of my life.
And so I did sign up for the static line course. Finally. And did the course. First the theory part. The theory about how a parachute works, how you use it and when you should decide to separate yourself from it. Yes, it sounds hard, but is part of it. You need to know what to do when your main parachute does not open. Or when he is not in the right position. There are so many things you need to know. I don’t remember when I last sat for so long in a lesson. But it was very interesting. To learn all these things about the life of my friends. And why they wanted me to try it. To experience it by myself.
Today was the day. The day, I finally could take off from work. The day Ground Rush only went out for two students. And the day I put the bag with the parachute on my own back.
I wake up way too early. Obviously. Because I went to bed early last night and I can’t sleep longer than 6 hours. So I open my door and look into the miserable weather. Yeah, the jump might not happen. Not in this mist. But I know Swakop in the meantime. And its weather. Cold and misty in the morning, warm and sunny around lunch time. And foggy again in the evening. That would be a typical winter day in Swakop. So I am not giving up yet. But freezing like hell while having my breakfast in the kitchen. Luckily the cat came around to warm me up.
And then it’s time to go.
Into the desert. Into the sun. Half an hour briefing later, Cois, my instructor, decides I am ready to go. Cois asks me in Afrikaans which jump suit I had the other times.
You never gave me one!
So you do understand Afrikaans!
If I want to…
Blue or purple?
I put on the light blue jump suit but don’t look happy in it. Why can’t I have the yellow one?
It won’t fit you. You’re too big for it.
I will make it fit! And there I squeeze myself in it. Much better. The smile is back. Now I am ready. Don’t forget it’s always about how you look like in the air! (That’s what I tell my clients everyday before I sent them over the ramp.)
Cois was 4 out of the 5 times my tandem master. So he knows me quiet well in the air and I trust him fully.
And we always had fun together. The same as this time. A lot of laughing is involved.
„You watched a lot of landings, so you should know how to land a parachute.“ Yeah that scares me the most. The fact that I actually know exactly what I should do, because I spent so much time out here. Time watching the others and listening to their conversations. Asking what they did wrong and how to do it right. So yes, I should know how to land a parachute. And for the beginning there is not a lot more I have to do. Static line means you are connected to the plane and as soon as you get out of the plane your parachute will open. Obviously a good exit helps for a nice opening, but then it’s all about having the control over the parachute.
The other student is doing the AFF. She goes up to 11 000 ft and goes to normal free fall. But two instructors jump with her and make sure that she is in a right position and watch her pulling the parachute. Then she has to control her parachute. That’s the fast version. You have to do a certain amount of jumps in 2 weeks. And the more expensive course.
The static line is step by step. First learn how to fly a parachute and when your comfortable with that you start learning how to free fall. It’s the longer way. Perfect for someone who is working everyday and wants to do the course on the side. Like me.
So there we go. Up in the plane. Nothing to make me nervous about. But I still enjoy it. The view over the ocean. Rossing mountains. Brandberg. Spitzkoppe. The dunes. And beeing above the clouds (fog). Just stunning!
1000ft gear check! Helmet-chin strap-3 rings-chest strap-handles-legs strap-static line-thumps up
The door goes up. And now I have to move my butt to the door. There is no one who pushes me. I have to hold on the door, place myself, concentrate, decide when I am ready, say ready and finally let go!
I was supposed to count as soon as I left the plane. I feel the parachute opened. I look up and it’s colourful! But really? What is that line twist? I start laughing. While I am hanging there. Why? Because that one goes on Cois. In the theory course Cois explained us what to do if we have a line twist. And he mentioned „Anne you know exactly what to do. Because you are still a kid.“ Do you guys remember when you sat as a kid on a swing and someone turned you a couple of times and let go? You turned quiet fast in the opposite direction until the lines were straight again. That’s exactly what Cois was talking about. So yes, I have this situation. But not like one twist. The lines are twisted from my handles up to the parachute. Instead of jumping around like a damnass I just let go and wait. And turn. And turn. And turn. And turn. And still not done. And turn. And turn. And open! Slider comes down. What was I actually supposed to check as soon as I am in the sitting position? Is it there-is it square-does it fly? And what did I say instead? It’s colourful! Which answers at least the first question. It’s obviously there if I see colours. And my next step was f***** line twist. But after that I did my job. Test if it flies. Turn to the right. Turn to the left. Try to break. Check. I am happy with my parachute and I located the dropzone. I’m aloud to play now. Turns. Floating. Chilling. Enjoying the view. I have to think about the cases Cois told me if I would have to land on a building or get into a tree. Yeah, that’s not gonna happen. Because here is nothing. Just desert. Even if I don’t come close to the dropzone, it’s flat. Without obstacles. There is nothing you can fly into. And they would fetch me with the car later.
So am I now at about 1000ft? I don’t know. I don’t even know what 1000ft are. I see Bones standing at the smiley. Where I am supposed to land. But I can’t see the bats in his hand. The colourful beachball bats. He should lead me in for landing. But I am not in the right position to see him. So I have to try it by myself. I get at least that far, that I can see the bats now. And follow his signs.
I see the ground coming closer. Look to the horizon. Break. Stand up. And stop. Wow, that was easy. Too easy. Thanks Bones!
And thanks to all my friends who supported me. Who just came out to watch me (falling).
And special thanks to Craig & Matthias who decided to sent out a plane even though the tandems cancelled.
And a big hug for Cois. Best teacher! You always believed in me.
And what now? Let’s get up again! For a second load. =)