Skydiving (long)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Micah Lloyd, May 28, 2002.

  1. Micah Lloyd

    Micah Lloyd Stunt Coordinator

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    A group of friends and I went skydiving for the first time over Memorial Day weekend. It's something I've always thought I'd like to try and sometime last week I said, "if I'm going to do it, let's do it." I got a lot of "OK's!" (In case anyone is wondering, all but one of us is in our 30's and 40's.)

    I shopped around on the web ("bargain shopping" for parachutes is such an oxymoron...) and found a place East of San Diego that was only an hour away. Trying to face my fear of heights, I opted to go for the gusto and signed up for the "Accelerated Free Fall" program instead of the tandem jump. In the tandem, you are strapped to a jump master and have no control over your outcome. In the AFF, you go through some training and end up jumping with your own chute (with two jump masters on either side of you). One other friend went with me (the other three in our group jumped tandem) and we spent the morning learning the procedure, what to do, how to do it, what to do if it doesn't happen, etc.. It was a LOT to absorb. Our instructor (who also ended up being one of our jump masters) had a lot of experience with over 10,000 logged jumps (and only three reserve chute pulls).

    My altimeter showed we were 13,500 feet above the earth when my turn came up. I freaked out, internally, scooting towards the rear open door: seeing people leap out and quickly down and away is quite disturbing to see...

    I opted for the video so a third guy accompanied me down. He scooted outside the plane and waited for our departure. My left wing-man/jump-master got to the opening and grabbed external handles, I was crouched at the opening but facing forward, and my right jump-master waited for me to ask for the go.

    It was surreal. Having the guy on my left, blocking the view of the open sky, I didn't have to deal with the openness. I "checked in" and was given the go. Two seconds rocks later and I was out of the plane. There's no time for second-guessing (THEY're going out and they're taking you with them!!!) Watching the video later I saw myself freeze on the exit, then my legs flailed wildly for a second or two of panic before I got control and relaxed. The jump masters NEVER let go of me while I was under free fall (and they WILL pull your chute FOR you if you don't do it on your own or when they give you the signal to.)

    The training worked; I did everything right: I checked my altimeter (often), I made sure I knew (repeatedly) where my chute release was. I was given signals to arch my back more and complied. 30 seconds into the fall I finally got a hold of myself enough to look around and found the cameraman had been in front of me the whole time! You're floating on air. You don't even notice you are falling at about 120mph (about 190kph).

    At 5500 feet (about 60 seconds of free fall) I waved them off and pulled my release. It worked perfectly. I got a hold of my guide straps and went through my tests to make sure I had a good chute. I'm told it takes between 4 and 5 minutes to glide down from that altitude but it felt like 30 seconds. I was too caught up in what I had to do to enjoy my predicament. I steered it in, guided (on one-way radio) by one of my jump-masters who had landed LONG before I did (they pulled their chutes much further down). I landed on my feet but slid to my butt. Got my chute under control and gave a thumbs up to the camera.

    It took a couple of hours and several viewings of the video tape before I could remember a lot of what happened; I was numb!!! I was so worried about the "script" of things I had to do in the air that I really didn't notice the experience. My girlfriend, who jumped tandem, seemed to enjoy herself much more.

    The video is awesome: the cameraman's timing was perfect. He jumped slightly before us and the view is from slightly below us looking up at me and the quickly receding airplane. Then he comes up to level and faces me.

    I think I'd do it again. I'd like to try it knowing I know what to do and trust myself more: take the time to enjoy the freefall and play more under the canopy instead of heading straight for the drop zone under full decline.

    Anyone else try this and want to share their experience?
     
  2. Kris McLaughlin

    Kris McLaughlin Stunt Coordinator

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    I did it last summer at a place near Calgary. I didn't freefall, but instead had a pilot chute to automatically pull my main chute. No tandem for me, either!
    I only jumped from 3500 feet, and like you said, it was mind-numbing! Just thinking about stepping out that open door of the airplane....wow... even after 8 hours of training... wow...
    I'm glad I did it, and will do it again some day.
    Just thinking about it I still get shivers!
     
  3. Dennis Reno

    Dennis Reno Supporting Actor

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    I made eight jumps during the summer of '93. It started out as a half-hearted promise between a friend and I back in high school. We agreed that when we graduated from college we would go skydiving.

    It was a great experience, the absolute best adrenaline rush EVER. He moved away and I had no one to jump with so I stopped at eight. He still jumps today, even competes in the Nationals. I took up scuba diving after my girlfriend (now wife) said "no thanks" to sky diving.
     
  4. Dave Morton

    Dave Morton Supporting Actor

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    When I was in college, I joined the parachute club. I did a few static line jumps. It was great. Although it never did let me overcome my fear of heights, which I thought it would, I would do it again in a minute. It was a fun time. I also went to one of those places that have the jet engines in a circular room and you jump into the middle and you can float. That is fun too.

    I will say that the little plane I was in never did seem the safest and I wanted to jump out. The one thing that kind of freaked me out was that I had to "shimmy" my way a few feet away from the plane on the strut of the wing and stay there until the jump master cleared the line for me. Very strange to be holding onto the plane.
     
  5. Timon Russo

    Timon Russo Stunt Coordinator

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    Dave, I had kind of the same experience. Did about 7 static lines over a couple of summers, hoping to free fall eventually. But as it turned out, I decided I just wasn't interested in going back. I guess you could say it was thrilling, but the sensation of holding on to that wing strut was just too weird, and I'm told every time I let go, I kicked my feet in panic, and never demonstrated that I could acheive a decent arch. So maybe it's that I sucked at it that I decided to give it up. :b
     
  6. brentl

    brentl Cinematographer

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    I'd love to do this, but I'm a big guy and I'd need those three military shoots for me[​IMG]
    I honestly don't think I'd really enjoy the Static line or tandem jump, but a free jump from 13500feet .. priceless
    Brent
     
  7. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    need a pilot? [​IMG]
    find me a 182 or something for rent cheap and we're in business. Tho.. shit I wonder if chute flying falls under part 135 on demand operations.. oh well, we'll get that sorted ahead of time [​IMG]
     
  8. Micah Lloyd

    Micah Lloyd Stunt Coordinator

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    It sure strikes home when, at 1,500 feet, you're instructed to unfasten your seat belt: If there is a problem with the plane, you're jumping out and pulling your reserve (which deploys MUCH faster than the normal chute).
     
  9. Jeff Rogers

    Jeff Rogers Second Unit

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    Please tell me how much that cost!!

    I have always been wanting to do that..

    Me and a friend were planning on doing it this summer and were just starting to get serious about it. What types of cost am I looking at?
     
  10. Micah Lloyd

    Micah Lloyd Stunt Coordinator

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    Prices vary. The place I went to near Otay Lakes in San Diego had a $25 discount if you ordered through the web (email for the URL - I don't want to violate Forum rules). With the discount, it was $170 for the tandem, $270 for the AFF. The video was an additional $70.

    The extra $100 was mostly for the training needed for the initial AFF jump. Subsequent jumps were about half.
     
  11. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    OK, you know the next question is going to be, do you pay before or after the jump? [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Jay
     
  12. Jeff Rogers

    Jeff Rogers Second Unit

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    Should I do the free-fall? I am a very adventurous person. I would think that the Tandem fall would be boring... Is it ok you think?
     
  13. Micah Lloyd

    Micah Lloyd Stunt Coordinator

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    To clarify: in both tandem and accelerated free fall (AFF) you free fall for about 60 seconds (depending how high you jump).

    As to which you do, it depends what you're after. Like I said, I really didn't enjoy the moment much - I was too busy staying alive. In a tandem jump, that's someone else's problem and you don't have to worry about what to do next. You can always AFF afterwards...
     
  14. CameronJ

    CameronJ Stunt Coordinator

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  15. Travis Hedger

    Travis Hedger Supporting Actor

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  16. Micah Lloyd

    Micah Lloyd Stunt Coordinator

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    I got pictures back:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    For more, go to my web site (www.lastdot.net) and click on the "skydiving" link on the left.
    ~micah
     
  17. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    damn I wonder if they're hiring for jump pilots. Nice airplane [​IMG] (nice pics too!)
     
  18. Dennis Reno

    Dennis Reno Supporting Actor

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    Philip,

    True story - when loading up for one of my jumps, the pilot came out wearing a 'chute. I had never paid attention to the pilot before (stupid me) so I asked him how many jumps he had done. He looked at me as if I had just broken wind and replied "NONE". I was a little taken back and blurted out something along the lines of "Really?!?!" He responded "I think only a friggin idiot would jump out of a perfectly good plane." I guess all pilots were required to wear a parachute.
     
  19. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    interesting, wonder why... usually pilots are only required to wear chutes for aerobatics, if he's diving like a mofo to watch you guys jump that's probably why [​IMG]
     
  20. Mary M S

    Mary M S Screenwriter

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    My Husband flew sky-divers for a couple of years in Cessna's and a DC3 (goony bird).
    Pilots are required to wear a chute while flying sky divers. Their container only carries a reserve since having both chutes packed would be too bulky to sit in the seat.
    A pilot has one chance to get it right if a sky diver takes out the tail etc. Very familiar with the saying "perfectly good airplane" but all the pilots at the couple of drop-zones we were at did jump. They considered it emergency training for that contingency, a jump plane is taking off at maximum weight capacity, with only enough fuel for one trip up and a fast spiral down. The planes are operating at very tight stall tolerances when at MGW. (The pilots had more 'observer's' getting sick in the plane on a hot day riding down, they crank it down so fast, then they ever did who rode to jump) Some pilots jumped a lot for fun when they had time, my husband logged over a hundred in about 2 years. I logged 5 tadems.
     

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