Tuesday, August 26, 2014

AFF Level 2

After 2 failed attempts of trying to get my Level 2 Accelerated Free Fall (AFF) jump done, I was finally able to complete it this weekend!  The first time, I went up on my birthday with my dad. The weather looked bad, but I decided to chance it. I did my first jump of the day briefing, which consists of all the safety stuff you learned in the First Jump Course, and then go over the dive flow with the instructors. However, the weather never cleared and I didn’t get to jump. I went back two weeks later to try again. Unfortunately, I had helped teach some scuba classes the week in between and got a nasty ear infection with a lot of pressure behind the eardrum by the time that next week rolled around. Again, I went up for the first jump of the day briefing and did the dive flow with the instructors, but couldn’t jump for fear of blowing out my eardrum.  Everyone up there agreed with the no jump decision also.

  So, after a week of meds, my ear was better and I decided to head up to the dropzone, without an appointment, hoping they could fit me in during the day and get Level 2 done.  After hanging out for a couple hours, I got the call to meet up with my instructor. Again, I was paired up with Gary and we went over the first jump of the day briefing. Then we got my rig, inspected on it and set it aside. After that was done, we went over the dive flow for the jump. This was the first jump that lets you start to “fly” as a skydiver. The dive flow consists of: Once stable, you check altitude and call it out to both instructors. They will either give the “OK” sign or give you body correction signals. After that, you do three practice pulls of your pilot chute. When that is complete, you are to check altitude, do a 90 degree right turn, check altitude, 3 second forward flight, altitude, 90 degree left turn, altitude, 3 second forward flight. You repeat that until 6000 feet. At 6000, lock onto altimeter, at 5500 feet, wave off and deploy chute. After the chute deploys, I was to do my control checks and then do two 360 sweeping turns under canopy. After that, I could play around until 2000 feet. At 1000 feet, I start my landing run and then land. Yes, there were a lot of steps in this jump to remember. I had mentally rehearsed it for 4 weeks, so I pretty much had it down pat. Or, so I thought.

  When we got the 20 minute call for our load, we geared up and I met my second instructor, John. We went over to the mock up and practiced our exit and went through the dive flow and hand signals again.  Everything was good to go, so we sat down and relaxed until we were told to load up. We got loaded up and did a handle check for the 5th or 6th time. Once we were up I was watching the altitude and at 5500, I did my practice wave off and pull as requested. We were up to 10,000 feet and I could feel the butterflies start to rumble in my belly. At 13,000 feet, we turned into the jump run and the door was opened. The air felt so good that, for one of the first time, I thought, that feels good, let’s get outside. The “fun jumpers” exited and then it was my turn before the tandems went out. I got in position and was told the get in the door way. “Right Hand, Right Foot, Left Hand, Left Foot.”  In the doorway, “Check In. Check Out. Prop, Up, Down, Arch! Arch! Arch!” This time, as we went down “the hill” I remembered to keep the saying “Arch!” and did my best to keep it going.. After we were stable, I checked altitude and repeated it to the instructors. I got one “Legs Out” signal and complied. Nothing but “OK’s” after that. I did my practice pulls. Now to fly.  Right turn. Left Turn. Shit, forgot to go forward! Shit, forgot to check altitude. Altitude. Forward, 3 seconds. Right turn. Shit, forgot to check altitude. Altitude. Forward. Look at altitude again and googles had fogged a bit and as I was moving my arm to see better I noticed I was already at 5500 feet!! Just as I started my wave off, I saw the “Pull Now!” signal, so I pulled. Well, damn!! As much as I practiced all those moves in order, I jacked that all up!! I looked up at my canopy after my 4 second count and noticed my left side end cells didn’t inflate. Not a big deal. They go over this in the first jump of the day briefing. I unstowed my brakes and flared. I looked up. Still not inflated. I flared again.  I looked up and they inflated with ease. Cool. Now, it was time to play. I pulled on the right toggle and around I went, watching altitude as I spun down. Same with the left and then just played with the toggles until I got to about 2000 feet. By then, Gary got on the radio with me and had me do a couple things and then I started my landing run. The wind had been pretty strong all day, but it had died down a bit so I ended up getting near the landing area a bit high, so on to doing some “S turns“ to lose some altitude. I came down slowly and heard Gary on the radio saying, “Wait for it. Wait for it. Wait for it. Ok, start your flare” I flared and touched down just as light as I could. I almost stood up the landing, but, my feet were just a bit in front of me and I had on my Chucks, so my feet slid out from under me and I ended up on my butt.  No big deal. It was still a soft landing and I was happy to get it done that smooth.  However, I was a bit bummed that I screwed up my dive flow and I was wondering what the instructors were going to say about it.  I had a bit of hope about passing when Gary came over the radio and said, “Ok.. Good jump. I’ll come help you with your chute.” I picked up everything and headed in for my debrief. Unfortunately, John, who was my Mainside instructor and would debrief me, had a tandem to do on the next load, so I had to wait until he got back down before I could get briefed.  John got back down and we did my debrief.  I got the normal, “arch more” and the missing the 6000 foot lock-on altitude. The dive flow was no big deal to them. They said I only needed to do one of each maneuver to pass and I was able to get 2 or 3 of each, and they were all executed correctly, so I was good even if it was out of order.  He gave me a few things to work on for legs and arch, but all-in-all, they were happy with the jump and I have been cleared to jump Level 3 next time!!  On level 3, I get turned loose for the first time and try to stay stable on my own with the instructors staying close. Whoo-hoo!! One more step!!

Until next time….
PS: Not me in the pic.. Just one I found on the web of an AFF jump..

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At 26 August, 2014 13:46, Blogger MaconBubbles said...

Awesome Dale!


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