Oct 11, 2011, 3:35 PM
Post #1 of 28
First jump soon
Hello Everyone, I have debated whether to post or not before I jump my first time. I decided that someone might say something helpful, so I am posting with zero jumps. I am 54 years old and recall having a desire to skydive since I saw the movie Gypsy Moths when I was in my early 20s. Over the years things have reminded me that “someday” I should do it. I have never been to a DZ. The only direct exposure to skydiving I have had was to ride up with the Golden Knights and sitting at the exit door during an air show in 1995. Recently video clips of wingsuit flying (back to the Gypsy Moths) have pushed me over the edge. I am scheduled to start AFF at Skydive Dallas 29 Oct. I live in Arkansas, so Dallas is a bit far, but my son lives there and we can visit with them on the trips. I am planning two days in Oct and 4 days around Thanksgiving. I hope to finish AFF during those 6 days, if I can. I have been studying the USPA SIM and watching a lot of good and bad AFF video clips. Now I have to wait 2+ weeks to start.
I have two more weeks to wait and I just can't sit by doing nothing. I think when I get started I will be busy training and social time will suffer. So I drove the 4 hours to Skydive Dallas yesterday just to visit and see a DZ in operation. I made some new friends and I at least know where the restroom and manifest is. I also observed some AFF students in training.
I took my First Jump Class yesterday but could not jump because of higher winds in the afternoon. I was not on the first load this morning and then the winds were up again. But about 3:00 PM they dropped and the game was on.
I will give a detailed review of my dive for the other noobs.
AFF first jump review: We jumped from a Caravan at 13,500 feet. It was hard for me to get low enough to clear the top of the doorway and stay on my feet, as I was crouched almost all the say down. The exit position was for me to be facing the front and when I got my head all the way out I felt overwhelmed by the noise and wind. I continued with my exit sequence of “Right hand, left hand, right foot, left foot, head out, knees out, back straight, check in, check out, take a breath, look up at the sky, signal UP with my outside shoulder, DOWN with my outside shoulder, and then step off with my left food and be in the arch position. I get motion sick and also have a pretty sensitive sense of balance. Changing speed and rotating in at least two, axes messed me up a bit. As things settled down I started my circle of awareness and got the Legs Out, sign, followed by OK. On the right I got Arch, and then OK. 3 practice touches went well. Back to C.O.A. and got two OKs. As I settled into a “short circle” of awareness at about 8,000 or so, I did a mental check on things I might be missing. My hands were pretty fixed and rigid. I just let them go to a floppy state and continued keeping a close eye on the altitude. At 6,000 (as instructed) I started getting ready, then waved off and pulled at 5,500 my target altitude. During freefall I didn’t ever feel excited but had been intently focused on the objectives of the jump. I never did look at the horizon nor the ground. I need to work on the horizon next time for sure. Once under canopy I felt a relief of sorts. The noise and stress to perform had been trying. I noticed I took a couple of large breaths. Most likely I had stopped breathing in freefall. I was not holding my breath, but I think I allowed the pressures to balance inside and outside my body and nothing related to breathing was happening. I was upwind of the holding area but I played around too much and didn’t get to my landing pattern entry point at the desired altitude and the wind had dropped enough that I was getting very downwind help. As I was trying to get my adjusted plan laid out the landing instructor came on the radio and directed me to a good touchdown still upwind of the ideal target but facing into the wind. My flare played out and dropped me around 2 feet or less and while I was not ideally in the PLF position, as I hit and stumbled forward, I went ahead and rolled instead of trying to eat my knee. By the time I stood up, I felt the motion sickness hit pretty hard. I was hot, which does not help. I removed my helmet and goggles, then carefully gathered up the parachute and headed inside. I was able to get out of the rig, and the jumpsuit before slipping outside and around the corner to inspect the gravel. After a minute two I decided the gravel were okay as is and headed back in. For the next hour or so, the idea of another jump (ever) was not a pleasant thought. As I got better and since I had already paid for the first 3 jumps, I started thinking about tomorrow’s planned jump(s). I stopped on the way to where we are staying and purchased some motion sickness medicine. Maybe that will do the trick and help me tomorrow.
Any tips about dealing with motion sickness and skydiving, I am all ears. I don’t want that problem to stop me. I can’t imaging every wanting make many more jumps if that happens every time.
I remember my first AFF jump, since it was only 1.5 weeks ago or so The first jump didn't really get my adrenaline pumping, at least I didn't notice it, since I was also focussing on doing things right. But every next jump gets cooler and better and more and more fun to do!
Can't help you with the motion sickness, except maybe focus on something far away (something at the horizon) whilst maintaining altitude awareness.
Well, I am no expert, but I can tell you that when you are finally able to breath a little better you will be very surprised at how much that will settle you entire body down a bit. Deep breathing in the plane and in freefall calms me down alot. Also, you might want to consider what you had to eat before your jump. I know it sounds stupid but if my blood sugar is low, the adrenaline seems to have more of an effect on my body: getting the jitters and feeling tense. I always have a soft drink with sugar and caffeine in it right before I go up. I would recommend trying this before any kind of medicine but thats just me. Hope this helps.
Oh, I almost forgot, CONGRATULATIONS on your first jump!
Not an expert but you might find motion sickness eases when your body knows what to expect. Also some people find ginger helps with motion sickness. And crystallized ginger tastes nice even if it doesn't help
I got up this morning about 5:00 to pack my (was staying with my son near Dallas) stuff, head for Skydive Dallas. After my planned jumps I would drive the 4 hours back home. I had AFF 2 and 3 scheduled for today. After I woke up I could tell I was still suffering from the effects of yesterday. I learned years ago how sensitive I am to adverse motion changes. If I ride one of those extreme rides at an amusement park, one time and I am done. Do it again and my head is messed up and I am sick. So from the start today I knew I was in trouble, the way my head felt. Two times before I got the gear on I had the desire to call it off as I felt like I was going to throw up. I really have no concern about exiting or freefall, but still I figured nerves might be a factor. So, I pressed on. Going over in my head yesterday’s jump, I was pretty sure I had closed my eyes right after “arch” on exit and then opened them after things settled. Today, I made sure I kept them open. That might have been a mistake. Yesterday I recall seeing nothing but air, the altimeter, my hands, and hand signals. Yesterday I got sick after landing as I had been looking down. Today I did see the transition into belly down. I think this started my down the path to being sick sooner in the jump. The dive flow was awful. I struggled to remember what to do next. My form went from good on the first jump to fairly poor today. I did correct as signaled and I did complete the objectives including extending and holding my legs twice. But looking back, I did not learn what I wanted to. When I went to pull, I got hold of the grip and just froze for a second. Again, I was seriously struggling. The canopy felt good, I did a quick visual check, and then started throwing up. I got my steering check done, headed for the holding area, did some practice flares, threw up some more, did a 360 turn, threw up in the middle of it but kept going. I did the other 360, yes, and threw up again. You can image where this is all going, I mean the fluid I am expelling. I had a good protein based breakfast, took motion sickness medicine 3 hours before the jump, and I was well hydrated. I staggered around in a circle entered my pattern and could not do what I wanted to work the pattern as I had desired. I made a okay landing and then threw up some more.
I really want to skydive. Or should I say, I did want to. Right now, just thinking about another jump is unpleasant. This was my biggest fear to being with. I knew I could exit and do required task without issue (once learned). This problem has been there all my life. I did have the good sense, or maybe bad sense, to purchase my first 3 AFFs jumps in advance (discounted). So I will wait a day or two and see I can muster the desire to do the third one. All the way home I thought I could upgrade the third jump to a tandem ride and give it to my son for a present.
This is really an obstacle that I don’t have much control over. I am re-scheduled for my 3rd again this coming Saturday. So, 4 hours to Dallas, hope the winds/weather are okay, and see if I can do this or not. If I could avoid throwing up while in the air, maybe I could deal with it. I told my wife that maybe I can get a fancy GPS and be the first instrument rated skydiver in the area. I am joking but looking at the ground just messes me up.
I will call my doctor and see if he has soon good drugs for this type of problem.
As a very recent AFFer that was literally scared out of my mind perhaps I can relate a little of what happened to me. I literally couldn't get out the door for my first jump, but then a tandem helped me gain confidence and experience. And again the B class dive I could't get out the door again and went down with the plane. I just didn't feel it. I found the noise and motion of the plane scary and the open door terrifying. I could only handle like 1 jump a week. But I went to a nearby windtunnel and that helped once I got some coaching. And I took it at my own pace. With weather delays, vacation and my own schedule it took me almost 3 months to complete aff. And so what? We're all on our own path here I think. I just soloed and loved it and am ready for the next steps to come. But it took awhile to not be overwhelmed by it all-I couldn't even look up at my parachute at first on the first few jumps-it was too scary! And fear can affect you in physical ways similar to what you describe I think. But whatever you do be gentle with yoursel, and join us in the sky above how and when you can. Blue skies, my friend! Best, steve
I have a doctor appointment for tomorrow. Looking for those patches to wear behind the ears. I have tips from "old timers" about motion sickness. I plan to drill, drill, drill all week on my exit and diveflow for AFF 3rd jump. Maybe even if I am sick I can pass the level and learn. I am going to go again Saturday, Lord willing.
I got a prescription for the motion sickness. It is worn behind the ear and it’s good for 3 days. The doctor made it clear that I need to do a test wearing it in advance of jumping. I put the patch on Thursday about noon. I have a desk job and on any normal day I want some coffee about mid-afternoon. After 3 hours I had no problems, so…… I took a vacation day and drove the 4+ hours to my first choice DZ, where I had did my first two AFF jumps. No problems with the medicine. I woke at 3:00 AM without an alarm and headed out at 4:00 for the 4 hour drive. All was well at the DZ, but it was a bit chilly. I was on the board and expected to be on the first AFF jump.
After a few minutes the chief instructor came over and said,” Let’s talk”. I filled him in on all of the details, being fully forthcoming about anything that might matter. This included my life long history of getting motion sick. He told me, ”You need to get a different sport…..you are putting yourself and the instructors at risk. He and the other psychologists/instructors at the DZ had determined I had issues with jumping. I was a bit surprised that on my first jump there was no excitement, no nervousness. I am not a nervous basket case. Honestly I have been more excited to watch a first release night movie, than when I took my first jump. The idea that someone observed me (in some odd light) and determined I was not able to function had embedded into the lead instructor’s understanding of who I am. He had never met me, and never had a single conversation with me. Judged and convicted behind closed doors.
We agreed that I would jump today and then if I got sick, I would be out. A few minutes later he found me again and said I could not jump at all. I guess the most aggravation in this was that if there were any real concern the instructors that jumped with me should have said, “No more”, or “Student is a risk, so we can’t do this anymore”. There was no such comment or concern on Monday, and today I am black balled. I took a vacation day, drove all the way there, and then they decide I am “out”.
I don’t give up easily. Plan B is in process and looking good. And I know now, the medicine does work for me.
skymama (D 26699)
Nov 5, 2011, 9:57 AM
Post #14 of 28
I'm not an instructor, so I'm not going to comment on whether I think your instructor's actions were right or wrong. But, if you want, you can post what happened in one of the other forums, like Safety & Training, to get feedback from instructors and coaches who frequent these forums. At least it'd let you know if you have a valid argument or they might tell you reasons why they might have done the same thing.
I'm glad the Dramamine seems to be working for you. I'm curious as to how your ears react when you jump. Did you have any equalization issues w/them when you jumped? It doesn't take much to bring on some nausea.
I agree w/Mama . If you have any video of your jumps. You should post that, too. Good Luck.
I am not seeking any vindication about being right and someone else being wrong. Mostly I am just sharing my entry to the skydiving community as things unfold. I told the fellow that he was mistaken in his assessment of me. He said something like “Well, if I am wrong, the error is on the side of caution”. I can respect that (sort of) and at that point I just shut my mouth and left the property.
I think people often jump to conclusions when the facts are not clear to them. Did he see me pacing the floor in the unheated packing area when I had no coat on. “Looks like nerves to me”. This is a true story. When I was about 5th grade one of my friends visited with another friend of ours, and went to church with him. As the service was nearly over the preacher was asking for any come forward if they needed to make a commitment to Jesus. Butch was seen digging his fingernails into the back of the pew in front of him and clearly he had issues that he needed to deal with. A gentlemen stepped over and asked Butch if he help him or council him in any way. Butch did not respond and the fellow continued to pressure Butch as to what it was he was trying to deal with. Finally Butch opened up to him and say, “I have to go pee, like right NOW”.
At another DZ I did a static line jump yesterday and canopy work from almost 5000’ to the ground did not make me sick, so the patch appears to work wonders. I did that jump from a Cessna 182, hanging on the outmost part of the wing strut like a monkey. In all my u-Tube watching I don’t recall seeing an exit like that. It was a great challenge to get all the way out there as instructed. They told me many post AFF students have issues with a hop and pop, because getting out at a lower altitude unnerves them. I did fully disclose to that DZ the situation and the static line jump allowed me to see if the medicine worked.
I have not noticed any issue with the clearing of my ears and the motion sickness. I did not clear them on the way down yesterday. On the ground the instructor was talking to me before I was fully on my feet (PLF) and it sounded like a faraway voice. I looked up and saw his lips moving and very little sound, much like some of those battle scenes on “Saving Private Ryan”. I quickly cleared my ears and I could hear him okay. But even with my ears in reduced pressure, I didn’t have any sensations because of it.
On all my (3) jumps I was under a 260 size main. The one I flew yesterday appeared to take more effort to flare. I felt like I was on a weight machine or something. Thankfully I had practiced it high up several times to get the feel of it.
It was too windy today for students. Hopefully I can get back to my AFF next Saturday, weather permitting.
Sorry, no videos of my jumps.
I wonder what the Navy would be like if everyone that got seasick was sent home?
I'm glad you found another DZ, & had a good jump. If you've never been evaluated by an ENT before. I'd suggest thinking about doing so. You've been hypersensitive to motion sickness your whole life. Doing multiple jumps from full altitude in one day does things to your ears. You might save yourself from being grounded for months from vertigo. There is a wealth of experience on this board. Putting vids of your jumps up would allow for other qualified opinions from instructors. My unqualified opinion is that they cut you off awfully quick. The instructors here seem to view the bowling speech as the last resort.
I hope your new DZ is a lot closer than four hours away. I also hope your friend Butch found (porcelain) salvation in time .
After 4 weekends of bad weather, the conditions for student jumping were good today. Instead of waiting for my AFF “turn”, I asked that I do another static line jump. I knew I could do better at keeping my neutral form on exit than I did on the previous static line jump. It was in the mid 20s last night, so allowing time for the day to warm up at 11,000 was a concern of mine. So the static line jump about noon was better than being at a greater altitude. The static line jump went well and an AFF jump happened later in the day. I can’t say it was my best jump ever, but just getting to jump was great.
I was taking the medicine today and no problem with motion sickness.
(This post was edited by dthames on Dec 10, 2011, 5:21 PM)
I did 2 static line jumps yesterday just to do canopy work. In two weeks I have time in a wind tunnel and then I will go right back to AFF. But for now, the canopy practice is nice to do.
I am at a small DZ without a lot of canopy traffic. As we take off on my 6th jump I tell my instructor to note a specific piece of something white...that is my target. I learned already that student altimeters under 1000 feet are not much to go on. So, I have started sort of eyeballing things after I start my downwind leg. I shortened up the downwind and flew the base until it looked about right, then turned toward the target and flew right at it, and almost perfectly into the wind. I touched down about 20 feet short. Early training cautioned about trying to stand up a landing. So I just put that out of my mind and always PLF or if my feet are out in front, sit on down on my butt. The instructor told me later, he knew I could have stood it up if I wanted to. He was right, but it just had zero priority for me. I did the initial rear riser turned for the D category, on this jump.
For my 7th jump I planned to do the rest of the rear riser D category work. I was under canopy right over the landing area and started the canopy work. I did all that was required and found myself a little downwind. The wind was at 7 MPH right before takeoff. Now the wind had shifted around and my ideal pattern entry point was opposite of where I was at. I headed there but after a minute or so, I determined that if I made it to the spot, I would way too low for a normal pattern. The night before I studied the forecast for the wind. It showed the wind from the west. Normally it is from the south. I have a DZ aerial photo in my notebook and I had already laid out the ideal pattern for wind from the west. If you just try to rotate our normal right turn pattern because of wind direction, after the wind gets even close to being from the north then buildings are a problem The big arrow on the ground was pointing somewhat north of west as I was descending. So I am thinking my left hand turn plan B is looking better all the time. I knew I was the only one in the air, so I went to plan B. I was very close to where my new planned downwind would turn to base. I just spiraled down a bit and entered directly into my base leg. I flew it for a few hundred feet and turned toward my target and into the wind. I touched down about 50 yards short but easily stood it up.
I am still using the medicine for motion sickness. I have not felt sick with it, but after one jump, I feel like a 2 or 3 hour rest is what I need. So, I have just built that waiting into my jump day plans. I just take at the pace that is comfortable.
It was really a good day.
(This post was edited by dthames on Dec 18, 2011, 12:24 PM)
To be honest. I just skimmed through this, Dan. Sorry, but I'm a bit tired now. A few things:
*Glad you're able to enjoy this, & not get sick. *Be very careful about Butt landings. A surprise could cost you a couple of vertebrae/disks. *Be VERY careful about spiraling down. ESPECIALLY anywhere near the pattern. Canopy collisions occur when there isn't much traffic in the air. That's how two very experienced instructors died earlier this year in Perris.
Talk to you instructors about the points I listed. Keep having fun . The initial student jumps are very stressful. One or two jumps a day really kicked my Butt in the beginning. You'll get there. Enjoy the journey.
This thread has become the chronicle of my endeavor to become a skydiver.
I had hoped to share a glowing report after a trip to the wind tunnel and AFF work back in early January. But the pattern of things not being easy for me, continued. Higher up in this tread are some stories of my struggles so far. I have considered just being done with it all, but I don’t want to stop now and wish I had continued at some later date. It is “do” or “not do” time for me. If I stop, I won’t be back. So I plod on.
First week of Janurary 2012 and I made a trip to Florida to continue AFF. 7, 2 minute turns in the wind tunnel must have helped me some but it did not make me a person that could manage stable free fall. The next day after the wind tunnel I did 2 more AFF jumps (not released) and then 2 released jumps 3 days later. Winds had caused the delay. After my second release jump I was upset with my performance and so totally fed up, that decided to quit. For sure to quit AFF. I think someone said AFF is like trying to drink from a fire hose. Well, my belly was full. Nothing wrong except me. Some might say I needed a different instructor. But I just didn’t have the desire to continue down this path.
Skydiving does not give me an instant emotional thrill like it does some people. To me it is learning something new and overcoming things that I need to overcome that give me some pleasure. But the hill is too steep or the water too fast to take this route.
I decided that if the sky called me back, it would be on the old static line. I had done some S/L jumps and enjoyed them. Way less pressure to preform and a repeat jump is much easier to swallow. And for me, there is just something better about being by myself in the sky. I am not sure why.
My local DZ was closed when I felt it was time to continue, a few weeks later. Finally about 4 weeks ago I was able to start on S/L progression. I have continued to use the prescription “Transderm Scop” patch behind my ear to combat the motion sickness under canopy. I am down to only using half a patch. On one of my tether jumps I was perfectly fine on exit and sick by full canopy inflation. Instantly the thought of never skydiving again was a comforting thought. 90 seconds later the sickness was gone and I was back in the saddle. Since being on this medicine I had not had any sick feelings, so why now? The instructor helmet video of my exit told the tale. I didn’t go for my practice pull when I first exited but went for form (by habit). Then suddenly remembered if I didn’t get the practice pull device I would have to repeat the jump. In my hast to get it before being jerked around by deployment I put myself in bad form. I had on white shoe and you can see them spinning in about 3 quick circles as the canopy opens. In those 2 or 3 seconds that motion made me sick. So, don’t do that again! But knowing the cause made me feel better. People talk about fear and skydiving. I am afraid of getting sick, because it flips on the “skydiving sucks” switch for me. What a laugh, to have that as my fear.
Yesterday I completed my 3rd and very successful 5 second delay freefall and now move on to 10 second delays. I am excited to continue and there is fun in place of struggle. It still may take me more than 25 jumps to get my A. But hope is out there.
(This post was edited by dthames on Apr 22, 2012, 7:16 AM)