Voyages of a Skydiver
Captain’s Log 2010, 0210, Manifest asks for proof of currency and jump numbers, along with the reserve data card from my rig…These are the voyages of Average Skydiver. Many of us grew up hearing a similar introduction to Star Trek episodes, as required by Starfleet Command. A captain’s log is nothing more than a logbook chronicling the journeys and adventures of a spaceship, boat, airplane, or other craft that carries persons or cargo.
Logbooks are the basic standard of proving jump numbers in the world of skydiving. Jump numbers are a basic indicator of skydiving experience. A logbook may also be a means of keeping track of where you’ve been, what you’ve done, and who you did it with. Logbooks may be fun, or they can be boring.
Skydivers are required to keep a logbook of sorts at the least until an A or other beginning license is achieved that indicates the “student” status has passed. Many dropzones require a written logbook if a visiting jumper wishes to jump. The logbook not only demonstrates the number of jumps, but should indicate skydiver currency as well.
If the goal is to become an instructor of sorts, logbooks must be kept until 500 or even 1000 jumps, depending on where the skydiver lives. Riggers are required to keep logs of reserves packed, and it’s a good idea to keep a log for any major repairs done to any skydiving equipment for purposes of “present recall." The same can be said for keeping student logs, or at the least, logging information about students you've taught. Something may come up later in their jumping career. Remember your Coach course?
Logbooks might be as simple as a logging audible that keeps track of jumps and as complex as handwritten journals that contain every last detail about each jump, and everything in between.
A logbook is a journal of skydiving history. For some, bragging rights related to jump numbers may be enough. For others, recalling who was on a jump, the type of jump, the formations achieved, length of freefall, and much more become part of the bigger picture.
Every AFF instructor learns how to fill out a logbook with encouraging information and reinforcement of a student jump while providing “code” so that any subsequent instructor has some information about the strengths and weaknesses of the student. Students will generally improve faster if provided specifics in their logbook, and the logbook will serve as a historical record of their first jumps.
Logbooks also preserve records for those that come after someone has retired or deceased. A most special moment was at the memorial service for Gary Douris, where some of his logs were brought out for the attending public to view. Howls of laughter rang across the courtyard at S’nore as people read log entries saying that “So and so had been grounded” and “XXX couldn’t arch but he deployed OK, so he was ready for a longer delay."
Samplings of logbooks can be seen here, courtesy of Eike Hohnendahl and myself. Some folks have expressed shock and awe at Eike’s logbooks, which are as meticulous as the man himself. Each jump is logged for place, date, exit point, landing point, participants in the jump, any exciting or interesting moments in the jump. Also included are copies of any payment for a jump, type of main used, and any special equipment used. In many cases, photos of the jump are also included. These logbooks take time, time that most are probably not willing to put into logging each jump. The skydiver making 15 jumps in a day likely isn’t able to log with such tremendous detail.
Some skydivers may wish to only keep jumps logged in an electronic logger as mentioned above, and never enter data into any computer or logbook. This is perfectly fine too.
A famous logbook entry, referred to as the “P-51” entry, is named for the kind of pen used to fill in the logbook with false/padded jumps.
Although meant in fun, inflated jump numbers are no joke. Lying in a logbook is predominantly a game of lying to yourself, but may carry over into falsification of records, if the logbook is being used to affirm and prove jump numbers for the purposes of achieving ratings or participation in an event. Ultimately, falsified logbooks impress only yourself and no one else.
INSTRUCTOR AND SPECIAL JUMPS
My own method has been to keep a detailed record of every jump using the L&B Jumptrack software, until I became an instructor. I keep a separate log of students and the type of instructional jump ie; Coach Jump, AFF jump, Wingsuit FFC, Wingsuit Coach, etc. The Instructional Logbook is kept in paper form, and in most instances I ask the student to sign the logbook, simply because I enjoy re-reading the logbooks at later points, and being able to show students “lookie here, remember when you did your AFF Cat D jump with me? That was a fun ride, yeah?”
CHOOSING A LOGBOOK
When choosing a logbook, consider how you’d like to log jumps. If you like to write, be sure the logbook has enough space and is comfortable to write in. Do you want to be able to put photos in the logbook? Be sure it’s large enough to hold those photos. If electronic logging is preferred, there are several applications available, including software as simple as Excel or other database software. Software tools like Paralog and Jumptrack interface directly with electronic loggers such as the Neptune, Altitrack, or ProTrack altimeters/audibles. Some logbooks allow for the import of GPS data for tracking jumps, wingsuit flights, or long distance canopy flight. The logging software may display a graph of exit point, speed, deployment, and offer fields to store indexed data such as total freefall time, type of skydive, aircraft used, etc.
No matter how jumps are logged and chronicled, it’s a good idea to keep a logbook for at least the first 500 or 1000 jumps, if ratings are to be achieved. If nothing else, logbooks can provide great entertainment during the off-season or after a day’s jumping has occurred. They’re a great place to store phone numbers, email addresses, photos of special jumps, and to remember all those “beer” experiences.
And when you're sitting around on a dark windy day with nothing to do but make up lies (No sh**, there I was) and drink beer with friends, a well-kept logbook will only add to the fun.
Since the time of this article, several applications for mobile devices (phones/tablets) have been developed for Android and IOS platforms, and most DZs seem to accept digital logbooks.
the Paralog system allows for user to actually sign the e-logbook with their finger or stylus device.
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- A Guide To Traveling With Your Gear - by Joel Strickland (Posted: 2018-01-02)
- Todd Shoebotham Talks Pilot Chutes - by Annette O'Neil (Posted: 2017-12-05)
- How the Pros Keep Their Canopies In Perfect Form - by Annette O'Neil (Posted: 2017-11-28)
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- The RSL and Skyhook Debate - by Andrew Goodfellow (Posted: 2017-06-09)
- Preventing Camera Snags - by Annette O'Neil (Posted: 2016-11-15)