This article follows a previous article of an AFF journal submitted by John McDarby. We hope sharing this series of articles detailing the experience of his journey may be able to provide some insight into those looking to do their AFF course, while also entertaining those who have been through the process.
AFF2 – Sunday 10th May
Awesome - even better than awesome.
That’s the best jump ever.
Better than the tandem and miles ahead of AFF1.
Very nervous during the climb - I was surprised how much so - much more so than AFF1. My instructor spotted this and told me to slow my breathing, deep breaths and just relax.
Once we got to "2mins to door" I was actually in great form and ready to nail it.
I got a super exit, good COA and then a 90 degree left turn, then a bit of forward tracking. All good and a nice, clean deployment - mellow canopy ride down and soft landing skidding onto my butt, not a bother.
The wind was a different direction, southerly and our landing area is E-W so it means we're landing short ways rather than with the length of the runway.
That just made me a fraction more nervous coming in - but even short ways, there was tons of room - which my instructor told me afterwards and I agreed - it won’t be a concern the next time.
All in all, I am utterly delighted with that jump - it was fantastic!
Damn, this is fun.
AFF3 – Sunday 24th May
I had almost zero nerves on the climb – very strange – if on a scale of the dentist 100% being dentist scared, on AFF2 I would have been about 35% - nice and nervous but not wetting myself – for this, I’d say I was about 5% - I was very confident that I knew my job and what was required – “now just do it”.
Again, my instructor said during the climb “just do your job – nothing else” – it’s all very matter of fact – there is no pissing about when it comes to the task at hand – there is lots of laughing and messing – it’s a fun sport after all – but when you’re one on one, its do it by the numbers and do it right.
When you go to the door “ok John, to the door please” you already have switched off all thoughts of “Jesus man, I’m jumping out of a plane” you just shuffle to the door and get into position and then start your drill – it’s that simple – in fact, it’s kind of surreal – you’re not really there – it’s like you’re looking at yourself from a distance or something – maybe like being a soldier where they just follow orders without question.
I think, once you get on the plane, that’s it – you’re not coming back down in it – I think if you did, you’d have to leave the club – nobody would rip you to your face because you can’t really laugh at someone for NOT leaving a plane – but you’d definitely be the talk of the hanger – for five minutes anyway until they all rip on someone else – haha.
So we exit, get stable and after a short time, my reserve side instructor backs off, I’m still steady, then main side pulls away. I make an unintentional left turn which I work out and bring back.
Then the guys come in again for deployment.
Deployment was fine, did my 4 count and looked up – total line twists – oh no – I don’t need this. There was no mistaking it. It was exactly as we’d been shown in class. I didn’t panic or freak out. That’s not really my nature in any situation. And I’ve been in some snowy mountain situations that were not pleasant.
So I did exactly as I was taught to do. I commenced my post deployment checks – canopy, cells, lines, slider – all good. Check for line twists, full on twists. Damn. I’m not sinking or spinning in any dramatic fashion, I’ll come back to them.
Harness checks – all good. Quick look around for traffic, all clear. Now, let’s deal with these twists.
I wasn’t happy with them and I wished they hadn’t happened on just my third jump – but they had, and I needed to deal with them, and now.
Reaching up with both hands, I grabbed the lines by groups and began pulling apart. A little movement but needs more. I tried again but this time along with some kicking in the opposite direction.
Moving...moving...and we’re clear! I popped into the normal position and all was good above me.
Releasing the toggles, I performed a couple of flares, determined we were all good, and my first “major drama” in skydiving was passed!
In hindsight, it was good that this happened as it demonstrated to me that the instruction is good and to be taken as fact. That if you do what you are taught to do, you will reduce the risk and make a favourable outcome more likely.
If I thought AFF2 was good, then this was miles ahead!
So much so, that I went and bought the hardback logbook, goggles, helmet, altimeter and gloves!
I’ve now made the commitment!
Part 4 will be published shortly, keep an eye out on the dropzone.com homepage to follow John's journey through AFF