Sunday, December 9, 2007

Day 12 - The day i jumped out of an aircraft thrice!!

Wednesday, 05 Dec 2007

My very first static line jump and my anxiety to do it well can only be imagined - by people equally crazy. My tandem jump last week was so much fun but I’m ashamed to admit that I had not paid much attention to the nuances of canopy flying. Which is how I’m hoping to explain why I landed in such varied locations today. All they had in common was that they were nowhere near the target landing area. 

First Jump. 0645hrs.
My heart was pounding as were boarding the Sea King (it is pounding now as I’m typing this!). Rajesh Sir and Mahesh Sir were smiling at me with me so much reassurance that I thought, “Whoa! Do I look that scared?” I like these guys when they’re screaming and yelling and generally being nasty. If they start giving these kind smiles, it rather throws me off balance. And for the umpteenth time Rajesh sir mimed his brief - “Winds very strong! Face the wind the moment your canopy deploys!”
I was fifth in line to jump. As the other trainees went out one by one, I realized just how much I wanted to do this. I know now that that the desire to jump into the sky will always stay with me. That first leap was magic, pure magic. Kilos of adrenaline rushing through me, I forgivably forgot to count ‘the thousands’. Or maybe I did count; I didn’t hear it anyway. Facing the wind was the very first thing I did and I saw that my altimeter was about halfway between 3000 feet and 3500 feet. Plenty of time. So I did one 360 degree turn after another and admired the scenery all around. Man, this IS fun. And suddenly the altimeter said 1000 feet and my shocked eyes said that I was downwind of the target. Ooops. I could hear in my head the debrief I was going to get- “Have you been paying NO attention in class? Have we taught you nothing?” I faced the wind, covered as much ground as I could, and landed just outside the fence surrounding the dropzone, on my feet. The canopy had settled on a big thorn bush so I decided to wait until someone came to help me get it out. Rajkumar reached about 10 minutes later. Reassured to find me unhurt, he untangled the canopy, and then told me about his own terrible landings as we walked back. He was in splits as he was telling the story to people later - “Madam was standing with hand clasped in front, looking so sad and waiting so patiently!”
And the debrief wasn’t as bad as I had feared. Apparently I had landed a few meters short of some marshland so it could’ve been much worse. And apparently standing and waiting for help rather than trying to free the canopy myself was a smart thing to do. The canopy was undamaged and I was unhurt. Not a bad first jump :)
Second Jump. 0800 hrs
This time I did count to the thousands- “one thousand, two thousand, three thousand, four -- and my canopy opened. I caught hold of the toggles, faced the wind and looked back over my shoulder and saw the dropzone. This time I had resolved to stay upwind, COME WHAT MAY, but as it turned out I was more careful than I should have been. At 1000 feet I was upwind and soo far away from the target. I planned my own target, did a fantastic circuit pattern and landed on my feet on the other side of the civilian airport. This is almost a kilometer away from our DZ, as the crow flies. Unhurt, though very embarrassed, I saw that a jeep had already arrived to pick me up by the time I folded up my chute.
Third Jump. 1530 hrs.
The winds were said to be even stronger than the morning and so was my anxiety to land at the target. I was rapidly becoming such a source of amusement to everyone. More than one person asked me as I was gearing up for this jump, “So Manjot, where are we planning to land this time?”
Hmph. Whatever. Good exit again. This time, after I had identified the target and started on my slowww progress towards it, I realized that this was my second last jump! Once again I was caught in the wonder of the blue skies and I have no qualms in admitting that I sang “there she goes..” I stayed upwind all the time. And landed across the civilian airport. Again.
I’m going to count my blessings - One, I exit so confidently. I bet no one ‘clears the aircraft’ as well as I do. Two, I haven’t got hurt at all. I have landed upwind and on my feet every time. And three, most importantly, I’m having so much fun! Those five minutes in the air - o words! It’s like being in a paradise all my own. So, three positives against one negative - that I can’t maneuver the canopy. It took me a month to figure out the right relationship with my car. Give me five more jumps, I'll figure this canopy out. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm guessing you're talking about skydiving here. If yes, Wow! I've done it just once (can't afford anymore :() and loved it!


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