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Found 11 results

  1. I often get asked by Whuffos "Why do you jump out of planes?" At first it's always fun to say "Because the door was open" and after a few laughs I try to explain. I try to explain the 60 seconds of absolute peace. That 1 minute that nothing else matters and you're 100% focused on the moment and what you're doing. To a non jumper that explanation isn't ever really good enough I feel, and often refer to the cliche quote of "To those that jump, no explanation is necessary, and to those that don't, no explanation is possible" Because it's the closest thing to the truth. I feel lucky to be apart of a community of amazing people! People that put aside status, careers, race, politics and are so excited to share the amazing sport of skydiving with new jumpers like myself. I didn’t know that about skydivers when I did my first tandem jump, nor did I know that I would end up traveling all over the US, meeting people from all walks of life, people I would end up calling friends and my sky family. However, one thing I do now know, is how thankful I am to have started this journey. Everything started for me on October 14th 2013 and the set of upcoming random circumstances would lead me to so many different Dropzones around the US, which resulted in me being asked to write this story. I was working in an industry where it was common to work really hard for 4-5 months and then take a couple months off. Right after my work season ended I decided I was going to skydive. A decision I arrived at due to various circumstances I found myself in. I was previously in the army and broke my foot the week before airborne school and always regretted not being able to jump and be apart of an airborne unit in the army. A few years after that I was working on my pilots license at a very small airport in Goshen Indiana that had a small skydiving operation on the other side of the field. Other than hearing "Jumpers Away" and making sure I didn't hit any of them while practicing take off and landings I never made it over there, even though I told myself repeatedly that I would try. Then a couple years later I met a guy by the name of Tim Kelly, randomly on a cruise ship and he had just started his skydiving training a few months before and was so excited to share with me his excitement and how awesome the sport of skydiving was! These events always left me wondering if I would take the time away from flying and scuba diving to start a new hobby. Getting LicensedSo there I was in La Porte, IN several years later and woke up one morning and decided today is the day! I'm gonna jump out of a plane! I called all the Chicago DZ's and none of them could take me because I weighed 260 lbs. so I called around the Indianapolis area and it was the same result. A friend told me "I think they jump over in Plymouth call them" At this point I was pretty discouraged, but I had already made up my mind that somehow I was going to do a skydive! I couldn't believe that all the big operations couldn't accommodate me, but somehow the little DZ 25 min down the road might be able to. I called them up with my situation, desperate to jump, and the DZO said "Come on in. We will take a look at you and depending on your height and build we can take you if it's safe to do so". Dropzone #1! I hopped in the car alone and drove straight to the DZ! After arriving a gentleman named Steve Verner came over and after weighing me and sizing me up decided that it was no problem. The main parachute was rated for our combined weight and he was more than confident (with over 10,000 jumps) to safely take me on a tandem skydive. I was beyond stoked! And started filling out paperwork, watching the mandatory videos and soaking up every bit of instruction Steve was giving me. The plane ride up consisted of Troy the DZO and Pilot on that day, Steve my Tandem Instructor and his wife Jenny the videographer. It was a 20 minute ride of smiling, while also refreshing everything I had learned on the ground. I was very impressed at all the attention that was put into safety! 10,000 feet, door opens, head back followed by 40 seconds of amazement! As soon as we landed I said I have to learn how to this! I don't care what it takes, let's get started! That day I filled out a USPA membership application and scheduled ground school, along with my 2nd mandatory tandem, which I scheduled for the next day at the same DZ (Plymouth Sky Sports). After completing my ground school and 2nd tandem the next day I bought my first Cookie G3 Helmet. I was also measured and even ordered my first jumpsuit. I was already committing to the sport after only 2 jumps! The Dropzone would be closing for the winter 2 weeks later and the upcoming weather wasn't looking great either. I would have to wait until the next season or travel somewhere warmer to continue training, which is exactly what I did! Dropzone #2 I called several Dropzones in Florida because I was told that with my weight and being a student, I would need a 300 sq ft Canopy to start my training (300lb Exit weight). After about my 5th call the Florida Skydiving Center in Lake Wales Florida, they told me to come on down! They had a rig that would fit me and instructors to provide the training. 1 week later I rented a small 1 bedroom house in Lake Wales and walked into the DZ to fill out paperwork. After spending a few days on a weather hold I decided to drive up to Deland and order my first container from Mirage. Apparently most people don't order their first rig until they know they are going to make it through the training, but I was committed and in my mind there was no turning back! The manager measured me and helped me design my custom green and black colors and then the wait would begin! 2 days later after a very successful AFF Level 1 skydive and a very bad no flare/no wind landing that left me wondering if I could even stand up or wave my arm to ensure my instructor I was ok (as he pleaded with me over the radio). As I heard the words "Holy Shit Bro, are you alive?" coming from a golf cart that was approaching me, I learned there was a lot more to skydiving than simply jumping out of a plane. Yes, I was alive. It was while being driven back to the hangar on the golf cart that I learned the importance of a flare. 6 hours later while in the emergency room at the VA hospital in Orlando I would also learn that a mans ACL doesn't agree with 300lbs falling from the sky without a proper flare. A lesson I wouldn't forget. Dropzone #3 4 months later I was fully healed up and working in San Antonio Texas. This is where I would resume my training at Skydive San Marcos. My new rig was completed and I showed up at the DZ looking like a seasoned pro in my bright colored jumpsuit, helmet and new rig (but still had no idea what I was really doing). They would confuse me for a licensed fun jumper who was waiting to fill out a waiver when I was really there to start with my 4th overall jump and only my 2nd solo! After telling them an interesting story and that I was actually brand new they paired me up with 3 of the most amazing instructors I have met to date. Hank, Kevin & Pun. These were the guys that would train me now that I was healed, give me my confidence back and nurse me through 3 months of weather holds and countless times riding the plane down with other students, due to the winds kicked up too high. I stayed at San Marcos through jump 15, when a new Dropzone opened not far down the road. I ended up taking a trip there with some of my new skydiving buddies to check it out. Dropzone #4 I decided to continue my training at Skydive Lonestar because at this point I was on coach jumps and they would allow me to use the new rig I had sitting in my car. Something the other DZ wouldn't allow me to do per their rules. This would save me gear rental fees and allow me to start getting comfortable in my own rig. The Dropzone had only been open a week and I would be their first AFF student. The staff and DZO was amazing, salt of the earth people. For days and days they would send the Otter up with only 6 or so people just so new guys could jump and I could keep training. I would always be grateful for this and wouldn't realize until later how rare it was. I would complete another 5 jumps there before moving to Houston. Dropzone #5 I moved to Houston and Skydive Spaceland would become my new home for a while and 5 jumps later I earned my A license! It felt great to finally be a real skydiver because it had been 9 months, 5 Dropzones, several instructors and 1 injury later that I was finally able to achieve this goal. I would then learn the meaning of "BEER!" As I got my A license and stamp at Skydive Spaceland. I would learn that tradition again a few weeks later when I would biff my landing and my cutaway handle would be pulled between myself and the ground while sliding 10 feet across wet grass. (I guess that doesn't happen a lot and I have yet to see it happen again) It was apparent when the skydiver picking up his canopy 30 feet from me yelled "How the fuck did that happen! I have never seen a reserve pilot chute pop out while someone was sliding across the ground before! I bet you owe beer for that one!” Needless to say the gas station down the street would get to know me well in those first weeks. Dropzones 6-77 Over the next year while traveling all around the country for work and taking some trips, going hours and even hundreds of miles out of the way just to jump at a new Dropzone I would figure out why I was traveling to all these DZs. I loved to jump, as anyone that completes training does I'm sure, but I found that in all my life that skydivers was the most interesting and awesome people that I have ever met. They are the only group of people (besides poker players) that you could sit amongst people without worrying about class, race, work status and discuss something you truly loved and share stories and drink beer and it would never get old. A member of the PD factory team would jump with you just to help you learn, guys and girls with thousands of jumps would share there knowledge and not make you feel inferior; But instead would share their experiences to help better everyone around them. I figured as long as I was traveling anyway I would make it a point to go to as many Dropzones and boogies and I could and seek out these amazing people to hear there stories and learn from them. Heading For 100It was probably about Dropzone 20 or so that I was jumping with new friends and the fact came up on how many DZs I have been to. It wasn’t strange to me to travel all over the country for work or to find new dropzones because i desperately wanted to keep jumping! However to my new friends that always jumped at the same DZ since they got licensed they found it very interesting because in a lot of cases 1 plane is all they knew. I met 100’s of people that had only jumped from a 4 person Cessna and nothing bigger. I decided then that since I was able to travel, that I was going to make it a goal to visit 100 Dropzones and try to jump at as many as I could, and from as many different planes, helicopters and balloons that I could. I knew weather would play a part and some places would only take tandems, but I was gonna do my best and just have fun with it. I started taking the "Selfies" next to the DZ sign early on to document my journey. Several years earlier I drove to all 48 continental states and did the same thing. A lot of people watched my journey on Facebook and thought it was fun, so I thought it would be a good idea for skydiving as long as I was out here doing it anyway. More of Justin's images can be seen on his Dropzone.com profile Common QuestionsNow I could write pages and pages about my experiences, stories, boogies, jumps etc etc. But as I travel and people find out that I have jumped so many places and will continue to I get a lot of the same questions which I'm always happy to answer and still developing new answers as I jump. So I wanted to share a few of those Q&A;'s at the request of Dropzone.com and because I know I had a lot of the same questions about different places. 1. What's the nicest Dropzone you have been to? That's a hard one to answer because there are a lot of nice DZ's. However my personal choice is CSC (Chicagoland Skydiving Center) Their facilities are amazing, all there rental equipment is top notch. The staff there go above and beyond to welcome new people to the sport and they have the nicest gear shop and restaurant in the country in my opinion. It was pretty much built for skydiving. The DZO is one of the friendliest guys you would wanna know. I don't just mean a friendly skydiver but Doug is just a pleasant friendly person in general and his attention to detail in running his operation is second to none. All of these things make it the nicest facility that I have had the privilege of jumping at. 2. What's your favorite Dropzone? Always a difficult one to answer because it's really a 6 way tie for different reasons and the people that jump and work at these Dropzones make them a great time not only to jump at but to also hang around and have fun. They also all have a very high level of respect for safety and people willing to help you learn from your mistakes when you mess up. Those would be Skydive Windy City in Michigan City, IN. Skydive Spaceland In Texas, Chicago Land Skydiving, Skydive Chicago, Skydive Lonestar and Skydive San Marcos. I have jumped at these places more than any other and I have good friends at each of these DZ's which makes them really fun to jump at when I can. 3. What's the best view? For me that's a tie between Skydive Utah & Skydive Windy City. Utah has these amazing mountains and the view of the Great Salt Lake. Growing up and living most my life in the Midwest I don't get to see mountains a lot and certainly not jump near them so Utah is amazing. I also love Skydive Windy City. I consider this my home Dropzone (formerly Plymouth Sky Sports) and between all the trees that surround the DZ and the view of Lake Michigan and the Chicago City Skyline on clear days it makes it a beautiful jump! 4. What's the best gear store? Well in my mind there is no contest and that's Rock Sky Market. They are located at ChicagoLand Skydiving Center and literally have everything a skydiver could want in stock and probably with several different colors to chose from. I have purchased almost all my gear from Steve and Jenny since day one when they were selling t-shirts and pull up cords out of the corner of a hanger in Plymouth and they are the best people to work with. Not only are the knowledgeable on so much with years in the sport and well over 10,000 skydives between them but they have first hand knowledge on most of the products because they jump almost daily and use them. Between everything being right there to buy that day, there knowledge and the excellent customer service it's no contest in my mind. 5. How many DZ's have you jumped at in 1 day? The most different Dropzones I have jumped at in 1 day is 3 and all 3 was in different states. I started off at Skydive Midwest in Wisconsin for a fun jump and then went down to Chicagoland Skydiving Center in Illinois to buy a helmet case and jumped there then on my way home I jumped at Plymouth Sky Sports in Indiana. That was an exhausting day. 6. What's your favorite boogie? This is always a tough question but the 2 that come to mind are Summerfest and Couch Freaks. I don't know if they will hold the Couch Freaks boogie in Fort Dodge again and I might have attended the last year for it but I had a blast! Just read the back of the boogie tickets and you know you're in for one hell of a ride! I really hope they have that boogie again because the stories from the old timers there about the start of big event skydiving are second to none. As a new jumper at the time I attended I really got an education! Summerfest is also amazing with the amount of planes that come in you can really jump as much as you want. From the fireworks and glowing wing suit flights to the dinner time meals and dancing into the night. Summerfest at Skydive Chicago is really a top notch boogie! To finish things up I’m really thankful for all the friends I have made along my journey and hopefully will continue to make. All of these opinions are of course my own, and being so new in the sport I’m sure they will continue to change as I learn and grow. I hope to hit 100 DZ’s and a few more boogies before summer is over. I hope in writing this article that the 1,000’s of jumpers who are in there comfort zone of 1 DZ will get out and experience some new DZ’s and make some new sky family. I haven’t had a bad time yet and all dropzones are welcoming to new jumpers I have found and are excited to share there stories and there sky with you! -EFS- Justin Baker B-40015 -Blue Skies-
  2. MattyBWrites

    Best Skydive Ever!

    This is a story from around a year ago when I decided to go skydiving in Australia. That day I was skydiving at Byron Bay a very nice and beautiful place to skydive, I recommend if you like to skydive and travel this is a must. The day started out really slow as the night before I was at a party with some friends. I had a headache so I just took some Advil and went on my way to the skydive spot. That day I had decided to do the 14,000 ft skydive. I talked to my instructor who was named Cody. The time was nearing until we were to start our adventure and get in the plane. It was time to get in the plane and my headache was starting to get worse. By the time we got over the drop zone I was feeling absolutely terrible. I had to throw up and my head was throbbing. We jumped out and I passed out because of all of the air pressure. We free fell for around 2 minutes, at least that is what Cody told me. But, Cody did not know that I had passed out until we had landed on the ground. He found out when we landed that I had passed out because I was not able to support my own weight with my legs because I had passed out. When I fell on the ground I hit my head and I started to bleed really badly. From what Cody told me I was immediately rushed to the hospital. When I woke up from my coma the doctors told me that I had gotten a concussion and that I had to take a ton of safety precautions for the next two weeks. That news really stunk as I was set to be in Australia for five more days and I had saved all of the most exciting stuff for the last two days. A few weeks after this incident I decided to go back to Australia to do everything I missed out on the first time I went to Australia. I decided I would go skydiving again, I decided I would go back to Byron Bay. I made sure that I would have the best experience by going to bed early and eating healthy. I did all of this to make sure that I would have one of the best skydiving experiences ever. In the morning I ate a very good breakfest in preparation for my takeoff at noon. When I went back to Byron Bay I found out that my instructor was again Cody, how ironic. We got in the plane and started to takeoff. When we got to the jump height I looked down at the scenery below. It was beautiful it was one of the nicest and prettiest places on the Earth. We got to the drop zone and I was ready to jump. We jumped out and all I could focus on was the beautiful scenery that I was falling down into. We pulled the parachute and I just floated down into paradise. And that was the story of my best skydive ever.
  3. 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. AFF5 – Saturday 8th AugustWhat an awesome jump!! Got down to the DZ for 8am and was straight onto the manifest - I got on load 2 for 9am – what a start to a Saturday! Delighted with myself. Got given the same instructor with whom I did my AFF4 repeat with. We did the dirt dive and walk through a couple of times and he just kept telling me to relax and I'd nail it. I was very cool on the climb - no nerves really - just the tingles of anticipation. Door opened and we were second out - I was much faster getting stable than previously. Once stable, I performed my first 360 - then awaited the go ahead for the second in the other direction. Upon completion, he gave me thumbs up and for the first time ever, I give out a big smile AND gave him back two thumbs up! That’s how cool and calm and together I was. It’s actually starting to make a bit of sense to me now. Has this clicked? This was by a mile, the best jump so far – brilliant fun Though, I made a total disaster of the landing - haha. Winds picked up then and due to get stronger all day - the whole place was on a weather hold, so I stayed and talked to a few people for a couple of hours and left them to it at 2pm. Class! AFF6 & AFF7 Qualification – Friday 14th AugustFinally, we got there in the end! Had a day in lieu to take from work, the sun came out and the club was open - all the stars aligned. It was nice and quiet down there with me being the only AFF student - about 90% tandems and about 5 or 6 fun jumpers - and 1 SL student. Did my brief for AFF6 and nailed it - really pumped up for spinning out of control and regaining stability - it’s the first time that I had to prove to myself, that I could get it back - delighted with that. Then a bit of tracking. I've never really done the tracking properly before so this was a bit unnerving to be honest - but it worked ok - better than on AFF7 actually, where I didn’t do it very well at all. Winds were quite strong, which helped with my very first stand up landing! I actually jumped up after the stand up and let out a yelp, I was so chuffed with it. I then had about 45mins until AFF7 came around - this was my first time doing 2 jumps in a day – a big deal for me. Quick briefing, head first exit and a backflip - bit of tracking and a couple of turns - “keep it simple” was the key of this one. Simple? Head first and a backflip?? Sweet Lord! I’d never done a head first exit and had no idea how to do it “pretend you’re diving into a pool – don’t over think it” simple advice and worked a treat – it was really cool and it’s now my exit of choice. Stability was very quick – bit of turn and it was fixed, then onto the back flip and just chill for the rest of it. Watching the videos I can see I’m not using enough legs and I’m backsliding, but hey, I’m still on AFF here! Made a complete mess of the landing pattern though - was too high on entry and then ended up way downwind and wasn’t making progress back - was pretty much sinking straight, over a tree line - I could see I wasn't making any forward motion so at about 300ft I made the decision to pull out and headed down wind towards a big hay field, turned back into the wind and brought it down, mellow enough landing on my butt (boy am I getting used to that), but it was my first ever out so I was really concentrating on PLF and bales of hay more so than a stand up. Got back to the hanger and the CCI said he was watching and that I made the right decision as regards giving up and landing out, but gave me a ticking off for being in that situation in the first place - fair enough, I shouldn’t have been there, I just got it wrong. Whatever anyway, I got down safe and had the walk of shame back to the hanger - I was obviously the talk of the place for the two minutes as about 15 people (tandems and fun folk) all applauding and laughing at me Haha - not for the first or last time either Then as I was laying out my rig for packing, congratulations for me graduating AFF came out over the Tannoy and I got a round of applause from everyone. I felt a hundred miles high and my chest was out – I’d done it Epilogue and Next Steps I took up snowboarding 15 years ago because “that looks like fun” and I have never missed a season since Having travelled across Canada, the USA and Europe in search of powder and memories Perhaps this new sport can introduce me to warm, sunny, summertime places that I never normally get to see. Everywhere I go is cold and white. It would be nice to wear shorts and flip flops on a holiday for once. AFF and jumping from planes has definitely been my second greatest achievement in life, after quitting smoking. It really has been a journey for me - I've learned a lot more about what I'm made of - what goes on in both my head and in my heart. I don't want to sound like a hippy, but this has been an enlightening journey so far. A skydiver I met on a forum mailed me this upon my AFF qualification: “I think you will find (as I have) that skydiving is neither difficult nor is it easy. Looking back on the training and the jumps, I think it's safe to state that every nerve in the body is challenged and tested. Much like the game of golf, skydiving does not define character so much as it reveals what is already there.“ “So, I think you had a lot going for you in the first place. You just did not know it and now you've found it. “ I’ve never had such lovely words said to me by essentially, a complete stranger whom I know by a web forum alias and first name only. Since completing AFF, I’ve gone on to continue with the consolidation jumps and if I were a betting man, I’d stick 10 bucks on me going on to complete my A licence. What does skydiving hold for me? I have no idea. I really don’t. I guess I’ll keep going, one jump at a time. The skydiving community are a very friendly and welcoming community and there has been no end of advice and assistance at all times from every angle. Whatever I do and however far I go, I must pay that back
  4. 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. Image Credit / LinkSunday 26th April Well, that sure was something else. Nothing like the tandem at all - totally different. Really weird but, I had no fear whatsoever - it was all "focus on the tasks" I just didn’t have the time to fear. I was nervous going up and one of the instructors saw it and told me to smile - that it forces you to be happy and helps get rid of nerves – it works! He then told me to close my eyes and visualise the dive from start to finish - that really was a good idea and I shall continue to do that Then at about 11k feet the pilot gave a two minute notice for the door. Everyone started doing high fives and fist pumps to each other - it really was awesome. Eight of us squashed into a ford fiesta (or tiny car of your choice), all about to jump from 12,000ft - it felt very special - like I was part of a very elite club that nobody else knows - it felt great. My two instructors and I were last out as we were deploying highest. Two head down flyers went first as they would be the fastest fallers and lowest deployments. Then 2 sit flyers, then a solo guy with about 20 jumps - he was just chilling out – we have become good friends since and he has helped me, mentally on many of my subsequent jumps Then us... I had no nerves at all - I just kicked right into my routine and thought of nothing else I actually didn’t even see the ground until I deployed - head up, looking at the horizon all the time - you don’t look down ever – In fact, it wasn’t until my first consolidation jump that I had both the time and the peace of mind to have a look about. So I did the exit, really well - I was delighted with that – we were stable faster than I expected. Then I did my COA - circle of awareness – check heading, check altimeter, check left instructor, check right instructor to ensure we're all set and ready to begin tasks - all good, let’s do it Then began my 3 practice touches - check alti, arch, reach for pilot chute handle, squeeze, recover. Do that 3 times to show that you know where the pilot chute for deployment is and that you can get to it yourself and that you actually have the wherewithal and you’re not phased out. Sensory overload is a big one on AFF1 so perhaps my previous tandem helped with this. That’s all that is required of AFF1 to pass, that and the actual deployment - and I did it with about 2000ft to spare - that’s about 10secs of freefall - the instructors said to me afterwards that they deliberately kept throwing hand signals at me for those 10 seconds to see how I would react to being overloaded. I got some of them but I missed some too - just too much information coming at me - but that wasn’t part of the dive - it was just extra stuff My main side instructor said afterwards during debrief "ah, you just ignored me - I saw you looking and just rolling your eyes" Ha ha – there is probably an element of truth in that. So I "locked in" at 6000ft and then deployed at 5500ft - and then it’s the longest 4 second count in your life Count 4 thousand and look up and hope to goodness it’s all there and looking good - which it was. I chilled then for a moment to let the adrenaline settle and then commenced my checks – I should have done them immediately but I was really overwhelmed to say the least - I’d guess I was about 3-5 seconds at most before I did my harness checks and twists checks – all good, phew! Next up, I released the toggles for steering and pulled 3 good flares to get a feel for it, as instructed. Then a quick alti check - just about 5000ft - Jesus, it’s a long way down when you’re hanging there alone. So I pulled a hard left and dived down to the left, then another to the right, then a few circles around - all to get a feel for the canopy as I need to know how it will handle when coming in to land It was very stable and comfortable and turned when I asked it to – as I discovered later, of course it was stable, it was 260sqft – Godzilla could have jumped this canopy.. At about 3000ft the radio came crackling in my ear with the instructor telling me directions – I’d forgotten about those guys – lovely to hear a guiding voice right now. But it cracked out at about 1000ft and I couldn’t hear him – however, I already had my flight plan worked out Be over the hanger at 1000ft, then downwind along the tree line to 600ft then hard right 90 degrees and down to 300ft across the wind then 90 degrees into the wind for final approach – we had been through that on the ground and I’d watched a bunch of jumpers before me to see it in action. It was really bumpy and I got thrown about but it was all about keeping it steady with minimal inputs under 300ft - just go straight and let it fly itself down. The instructor said afterwards that no other students would be flying today and that it was right on the edge for students but that my (cough), mass, was an advantage for such conditions! So I landed on my feet, all excited and relieved but then a gust of wind grabbed the canopy and I was on my butt and dragged backwards - I got it sorted and that was it, gathered it up and walked over to the hanger - where a bunch of them laughed at me and took the piss - but in a friendly way. One guy came up to me "what number AFF was that?" I told him number one, and he stuck his hand out for a shake "welcome to the club, man" I felt so chuffed. I was part of an elite club. Brilliant, brilliant experience. Then one of my instructors went through the video with me pointing out both good and bad things of the dive He got some other students over to view it also as they were unable to jump due to the wind Then we got the creepers (like skateboards) out and we (4 students) started to practice AFF2 dive flow - It’s much the same but with some added turns - which are new to us. We will have to do 90 degree turns both left and right - then a kind of "head first" position a bit like superman but hands back (later to be informed, tracking) and then back to standard stability and recover. I wasn’t ready to do it again today even if I could - too much information to take in and I want to do the dive over and over first because it’s hard to think when in freefall - it’s so extreme. Things need to be more instinctive first for me. Next weekend looks like a wash out. So hopefully the week after. But oh boy, what a buzz - I may well have found what I was looking for. Part 3 will be published shortly, keep an eye out on the dropzone.com homepage to follow John's journey through AFF
  5. 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. AFF4 – Saturday 13th JuneWell, that was quite the weekend of ups and downs. Failed AFF4 on Saturday (they don’t call it failing as its all learning each time) so repeated it on Sunday and got through, just about! Saturday was an odd one - my first proper experience of loss of altitude awareness - total loss. I'm down to one instructor now instead of two - we had a perfect exit but then entered into a spin (not a crazy one) which the instructor corrected - as it happened, I was oblivious to it - how? I don’t know, because it looked quite hectic on the video afterwards. My log book entry from the instructor states “John was a little over whelmed on this one” That is the understatement of the year, I feel. So by the time we were all steady and my instructor came around to the front, we'd lost most of the freefall time - but I didn’t cop it – the dive plan was, once we were steady, he’d come round the front and we’d kick off from there – but by the time we were stable and set, it was too late – for some reason, I seemed to have had that point as my trigger to start work, rather than watching the alti all the way. So, I checked my alti now and we were at 5500ft - deployment height - I nearly had a heart attack - normally I’d have seen 9, 8, 7 etc on the way and I’d be well aware that 6 was coming, lock in, 5500ft deploy - this was the first time I missed ALL of that - I deployed just after 5500ft and had a super canopy down - I cursed for the first minute or two after deployment as I knew I’d failed, utterly - I didn’t do one single task for the jump - it was referred to afterwards as a "brain fart" where the brain just shuts down with the overload of tasks to do - there was never any danger as such as I copped it on time and everything was fine - but my instructor said he was giving me another two seconds before he dumped me out himself if I hadn’t done so. On the ground as I gathered up my canopy and walked over to my instructor, the two of us just started laughing "Johnny, what the hell just happened there - what were you doing?" I had no idea - I just phased out – I can't fathom it - but I was told it happens to everyone at some stage, it’s just a case of when - it’s one of the reasons students have to deploy so high - it gives that margin for precisely what just happened - we deploy at 5500ft whereas experienced divers deploy at 3000ft or so - that gives them another 12 seconds of freefall - so there was never a danger on my jump - it was just a case of "Johnny, get your head in gear" There was the opportunity to go again later and rectify it but I really wanted to sit down with a beer and think about what had happened and why. I needed to analyse it and make sure it didn’t happen again. One of the things I came up with was that my previous "jump" was the tunnel - and that was two minutes at a time - perhaps my brain thought I had that amount of time rather than 45 seconds – I’m not sure - it doesn’t explain the total freeze and lack of one single task being completed, however. So I went back the next day to jump again - I couldn’t let that go until next weekend as it would have gotten bigger in my head all week. Wonderful jump - loved it and passed it... AFF4 Repeat – Sunday 14th JuneI got a different instructor whom I'd never met before - a really nice chap who trains the army jumpers - I told him what had happened and that I didn’t care in the slightest if I passed today or not - all I wanted was to jump and "get back on the horse" and be totally in the zone with my alti – that’s all I wanted. He was good with that but at the same time "let’s plan on passing the jump and doing everything we're supposed to do, right" So we dived it on the ground, all was good, climbed, perfect exit, a little longer than I would have hoped to get stable but we got there.Then he let go and came around the front, face to face and off we went with our tasks - just a couple of 90 degree turns. I have never seen me check my alti so many times! He said I was fixated with it and that I need to find the middle ground between Saturday and Sundays jumps - but boy did I know what height I was at the entire jump. I thought I’d failed it to be honest as I didn’t do a 100% right turn but he told me in the debrief that I was good to pass as once I was stable, I was rock solid and the turns were perfect - but I didn’t think so once I'd deployed - but honestly, I didn’t care - I had a super canopy down - couple of spirals again and got myself into the landing pattern real nice - came down a bit fast but not heavy - skidded onto my butt as usual - I can live with that! I met up with the usual lads back in the hanger and had about 15mins before debrief - got a cuppa and moaned about how I'd failed it yet again - but that I was just happy to have jumped after the fiasco of the day before - then I was called for debrief and he said it up front immediately that I'd passed - I nearly fainted - and then he proceeded to go through the video and explain why - and he was right I feel, he could have failed me too but it would probably have been a bit mean - either way, I do the same jump again for AFF5 but this time with full 360 degree turns – I’m fine with that. My goal for today was just to jump again and be altitude aware - I got that AND I passed, so it was a double bonus and I’m delighted with it. I was very comfortable going up in the plane - no willies at all - and I was sitting on the floor again as we were first out - it’s a different position and takes getting used to - when the door opens, you're kneeling right beside it looking down 13,000ft - you truly have to block it out. And as you're first out and the plane is making its pass, you can't hang around as the people behind you also need to get out close to the DZ. So there really is no hanging about - door opens, assume the position, exit - it all takes about 5-8 seconds - You cannot question it - just do it. Which is good too, as it doesn’t leave time for the brain to start thinking “why am I doing this?" I'm now really starting to enjoy the canopy - both rides this weekend were great fun - I think my brain said "feck it, you've failed both jumps, just enjoy the ride down" which I really did - nothing too exciting but a couple of spirals and really working out the landing with the wind directions etc. What a view when the door opens eh? You can see my red runners right beside the door - I had a quick peek down but then looked away - it doesn’t help looking down at that – he he. You can see the number of times I’m checking my altimeter - like a watch on my left hand. I was all over it this time. And you can see, once I got stable, I was very stable - it was just getting there. And then I put in a decent left turn - I had time to turn back but I just locked in on the alti and left it at that. Loved under the canopy again this time - a real mellow buzz - so much more relaxed than I have been. I actually look quite relaxed during the freefall there too. Part 5 will be published shortly, keep an eye out on the dropzone.com homepage to follow John's journey through AFF
  6. 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
  7. Over the course of the next few weeks we will be sharing the journal of John McDarby, who documented his experience as an AFF student. This journal should allow for new students to get an idea of what to experience during their first steps into the sport. Accelerated freefall (AFF) is a method of skydiving training. This method of skydiving training is called "accelerated" because the progression is the fastest way to experience solo freefall, normally from 10,000 to 15,000 feet "Above Ground Level" (AGL). “As far back as I can remember, I've always wanted to be a gangster. ...” Ray Liotta Goodfellas, I always loved that movie. I guess it’s kind of like living that gangster life for 2hrs which is so utterly foreign to anything most of us would know. Skydiving is something I’d always wanted to try, ever since a young age. I remember seeing a clip of people in a wind tunnel when I was about 12 or 13 and thinking “I’ve just got to have a go at that” But the usual trials and tribulations of day to day living, seemed to perpetually push it out. During my twenties, I actually went as far as getting the sponsor forms to do a charity tandem. But that’s as far as it got. It was placed on the back burner for another twenty years. One fateful day, a surprise email from my cousins wife arrived. “Can you come up with an idea for you and him to do something different for his 40th” was the request. Race car driving? White water rafting? Paintball? All the usual silly ideas we both bounced off each other. Then, the light bulb went “ping” We booked in for us both to do a tandem – he was as yet, unaware. The day came and the colour drained from his face when informed of the plan for the next few hours. That’s actually on video somewhere and is quite comical. For me, I’d had a month or two in order to come to terms with it. As it turned out, the rain came and the gig was off – honestly, I think we were both equally relieved and disappointed. We re-booked and again, it was rained off. I decided at that point, if it was rained off a third time, then that was it for me. It was a proper sign that skydiving was not something I was destined to take part in. But not this time. This time Thunderbirds were go. The day came and we hit the DZ. We signed our lives away, we jumped and we loved it. It was a surreal experience and one that I will never forget. No matter how many jumps I ever make through the rest of my skydiving career, I will never forget that first time sitting on the edge, feet dangling. On video, my tandem master asks prior to the jump: “Will you do this again or is this a one off, tick the box?” To which I reply categorically “one time, one time only” Yes, let’s see how that worked out... I must apologise for the soundtrack. Prior to the jump, whilst at the DZ, we had to select 3 songs from a list of thousands that were to be added to our video afterwards. I was much too preoccupied to choose them so the task was given to my niece of 12 years. “This will be hilarious” was the giggling consensus. And I was informed in no uncertain terms, that I was not to see the track listing until the final product. Which was later aired on the big screen in the hanger to much laughter. I’m a living joke... But...the deal made with my niece was that if she decided to choose the songs, then she would have to do a tandem when she turns 18. Aoife, the clock is ticking! So that was it. I walked away from a wonderful tandem experience and was determined that if nothing else, I had to complete “at least” one more jump. I couldn’t go through life and not try it again Knowing me and how I think, it made sense to sign up for AFF rather than another tandem. “I’ll do the ground school and one jump, then reassess” I told myself. Multiple emails back and forward to the IPC Irish Parachute Club, had me booked into school for the second Saturday in April – about 7 weeks after the tandem. I was hyper and couldn’t wait for the day to come. As it approached, the bravado began to wear off and nobody was happier than me that we did not get to jump that day due to weather. We would have to wait for the following Saturday. This was something that stuck with me until AFF6. I would never have been upset not getting any of the first 4 AFF jumps on the day. It was a genuine fight with myself to gear up and just do it. But afterwards, it was always such a buzz. At times, I even thought “I wish I could just fast forward the jump bit and get to the après-jump buzz” and go home. Unfortunately, you have to load and exit to get that. Now, I’m really happy and excited during the hour or so prior to kicking off. But that took a few jumps to get there. During the next week, I read the SIM twice. I looked at everything there was to see on YouTube. I even had my first skydive dream! Figuring that jumping from a plane, this time unattached to someone who knew what they were doing, I thought it best to know as much as I could. I did the AFF1 dive flow, over and over again in my head during the drive to and from work. I ran over my emergency procedures again and again. In fact, I still have the laminated cards with the bullet points, sitting on the dash of the car so that I see them every single day. I practice my EPs daily – numerous times. Rinse and repeat….always repeat. I went through my notes from class – why was I the only person taking notes? I’d never paid as much attention in all my school and college years combined. I asked more questions in that classroom than everyone else put together. This stuff was important and I wanted to know it down here rather than not know it up there. And then the day came… Part 2 will be published shortly, keep an eye out on the dropzone.com homepage to follow John's journey through AFF
  8. While some see skydiving as an activity that leads to death, others have quite the opposite experience, where they find life. There are countless stories from individuals who found that skydiving saved them from themselves, offering both a community and a purpose. Andrew Goodfellow is one of those people, and he recently submitted this piece which details his venture into the sport. I found skydiving on the run. Ten years of addiction, depression, self-loathing, countless failed relationships, a broken engagement, two suicide attempts (one near success), and the ever-present aching loss of a sibling, left me with a lot to run from. But for a long time, it felt as though I had no one and nothing to run to that could save me from myself. Almost overnight, skydiving filled a void that nothing had ever come close to filling. At its best, it’s the most pure and vital experience I’ve ever known. Totally thrilling and deeply fulfilling. And at its worst…well I had already tried that route twice…so I figured at least this way I’d part with the world on better terms. What I found in skydiving was more than I expected. Friends, community, support, inspiration, excitement, challenge, and pride. The rewards were all around. But I also came to realize how many crucial life lessons were on offer at the DZ. Skydiving is a great teacher. Its lessons are vital. Its truths are fixed and inarguable. It is indiscriminate. It is generous and unforgiving – rewarding and punishing in near equal measure. It teaches patience and perseverance. It fosters trust and forges self-reliance. It provides constant proof that learning is a perpetual process; perfection does not exist. All are fallible; none invincible. It necessitates calm under pressure. It demands you walk the fine line between confidence and recklessness. It requires you to train and focus and prepare. And then begs you to accept that which lies outside your control. Perhaps most importantly, it forces you to make hard decisions. It teaches you to recognize that crucial moment when the best course of action – the only choice that will save you – is to give up fighting, swallow your pride, and cutaway. Many of life’s toughest moments feel like a really slow opening, a line-over, a two-out, toggle fire. Blistering uncertainty meets coursing fear, raw emotion and instinct. And above all, a defiant will to survive. Looking back, I’ve had a lifetime of low-speed, high-speed, and total mals. Situations I found myself in – whether of my own doing, or simple tricks of fate – that called for precise and efficient emergency procedures I either couldn’t muster or was yet to learn. Without knowing it, I’ve spent a long time sacrificing altitude for stability in one form or another. My experiences in the sky have been exotic and intoxicating; yet not without great peace and tranquility. There is a magnetism about skydiving that consumes those it attracts. The primal, electric surges of dopamine and serotonin that flood your brain in freefall lay shame to any narcotic high I’ve ever known. This cannot be overstated. And the constant evaluations of risk and reward are, in themselves, a thrilling version of chicken that each of us plays against ourselves on every jump – at the intersection of the familiar and the unknown. One quickly realizes, as did I with much dismay, that the phrase “mind over matter” could scarcely be applied as accurately to another pursuit. All the strength and speed in the world won’t help you swim your way back into that plane once you’ve left the door. And good luck muscling your way to stability or control. Abandon hope, all ye who enter here. The sky will disabuse you of many formerly held convictions in a matter of seconds, as it calls to you with its Siren’s song. Welcome to your second adolescence. There is much to learn.
  9. A background into the history of the sport, at least in Kansas and Missouri. I was online reading some of the history comments posted in 2008 and saw mention of DZ's in Kansas as well as mention of Jim Garrison. I have a few additions to the posts I read from 2008. I knew Jim through my dad and I was at the nationals as a spectator. During the nationals Jim burned in with a streamer landing on the blacktop runway and broke his leg, as history shows, it didn’t kill him and he jumped again either the same day or the next day with a broken leg in a cast. When I asked him how he managed to live through that he said with a smile “I did the shit out of a PLF” but that incident made him pretty much legend, at least around here. Jim was D 94 and one of the earliest sport parachutists in America as the number shows. As I said, I met him at the nationals at the old Olathe airport around 1962. I started jumping shortly after the nationals in March of 1963. Besides a skydiver Jim was a Deputy Sheriff at that time, I knew him through my dad who also worked at the same Sheriff’s Office, Johnson County Kansas. A couple of friends and I decided it would be neat to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, so we met up with Garrison and others at a private strip near 183rd & Mission Rd in Johnson County Kansas. The club at that was called KA MO. The address at that time would have been Stillwell, now Overland Park or Leawood Ks. I made 8 jumps but lost my nerve when a friend burned in at Hutchinson in 1963. My buddies made one or two jumps and all quit. Fast forward a few years, around 1968/69 and I am now a Sheriff’s Deputy on Patrol near Desoto Kansas, I see three parachutes pop open a few miles away. I follow them and find the airport which was just off of Edgerton Road West of Desoto and North of K 10 highway. Walla! Jim Garrison now has a DZ on a 1000 ft + or - dirt strip on a farm. I offered to fly jumpers as I was working on my commercial pilots license and Jim accepted so I became one of his pilots at that time his only pilot other than him. That DZ was pretty neat as when you went out you were free falling over or just South of the Kaw River which gave the DZ some character other than farms and Desoto. I don’t remember any aircraft other than the 180 Cessna that I flew and I flew for a couple of years hauling jumpers and pulling the glider. The glider went south or rather down after about a year when a kid stationed at Whiteman did what jet pilots do when they get in trouble. For you non pilots they pull the stick back, if that doesn’t work they eject. He did, it stalled and went straight in from about 100 feet or less, demolished the glider, broke both of his legs and ended his career as a military pilot, bad luck but he lived. I started jumping again as I got to jump free being the pilot but I only logged 50 jumps without incident except for a couple of tree landings. It goes without saying that parachutes at that time were not the quality as they are now. When I got my commercial license I quit as I was burned out. I spent ALL of my free time at the airport so I quit jumping and continued working on my pilots licenses. There were some really good people in those two clubs and some not so good, I have stories. I was an outsider since I was a Sheriff’s Deputy and the 60's clubbing by LEO’s in Chicago caused many of the younger generation folks to hate cops, they tolerated me because they needed a pilot and they had a connection with the SO through me, they called me frequently even after I left. I lost touch with Garrison after that because the DZ was shut down for non payment of rent, if I remember right. Jim was a hell of a pilot and PC instructor. Jim didn’t quit after the Desoto DZ was gone but I don’t recall exactly where he went from there unless he was associated with another DZ located at the Independence Mo airport, seems like he may have gone there but he may also was at Wellsville Ks. for a while. I was there a few years later but he wasn’t around. Jim would be around 81 now if he is still kicking and as feisty as he was he probably is. Last I knew he was living in the KCMO area.
  10. dorkwriter

    my fiction story

    The sand scratched at her toes as Bailey tramped down the beach, attempting to keep herself upright on the uneven surface as she clutched the hem of her maxi-dress in one hand and allowed her heels to dangle from the opposite hand’s fingers. She was drunk already, after only her third flute of champagne. She’d always been somewhat of a lightweight; her mother even teased her about it, endlessly. Another flaw to add to the list, she thought bitterly. Unmarried, childless, starving artist….gay. Her mother could never truly accept that last part. She’d thrown a fit the night Bailey had finally shoved her way out of the closet after the tenth—and final—attempt at a blind date. She just couldn’t take it anymore. Mom had acted exactly as she’d predicted, thrown Bailey out of the house, screaming while her daughter sobbed. The scared teen girl had taken a cab, and what little she could carry on her back, to her father’s place in the hopes that he wouldn’t react as badly. Surprisingly, he didn’t and welcomed her in with open arms to his studio, surrounding her with drying paintings of the sea and mythical creatures. “There’s not much room,” he’d said, as if apologizing for his kindness, “but we’ll make some, huh?” He’d used the self-made corner kitchenette to prepare them both a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches and hot cocoa. Then he spent all of that night telling her stories of the mythical sea creatures he loved to paint. About the lonely Loch Ness Monster and the spiteful sirens; the stories reminded Bailey of her childhood and she soon found herself drifting to his voice. Like a lullaby. When she’d woken up the next morning, she had twenty six messages from her mother; half of them were of her frantically asking where her darling daughter had gone, as if the previous night hadn’t happened. The rest were half-hearted apologies that she never acknowledged thereafter. Bailey wouldn’t have gone back if it weren’t for her father’s insistence. “You’ll never forgive yourself if you don’t try to work things out, Bay,” he’d said, using the childhood nickname that her mother had always hated. “I know I do.” Bailey didn’t know how that was possible, but his words were sincere and so she went. Upon her arrival home, her mother wrapped her in her arms and pressed kisses all over her face. She rubbed her back and rocked back and forth on her feet and whispered her love in Bailey’s ear, but all Bailey could hear was the lack of apologies on her tongue now. Even the simplest ‘sorry, honey’ would have made everything better. But it never came.Mothers never had to say sorry, she guessed. That was over five years ago, though, and now, as Bailey walks down the beach, away from her youngest sister’s wedding—which came far too early, in Bailey’s opinion, considering Lydia was only 19 and still foolish—she wondered if the look of distaste her mother gave her when she talked to anybody of the female gender was intentional or not. Whether the lack of interest in Bailey’s first showcase—a series of paintings inspired by her father—was because she was too distracted showing off pictures of her first grandson and doctor son-in-law or because she really did not care for Bailey’s chosen career, so similar to her ex-husband’s. Her father had not made it to his youngest daughter’s wedding. His poor heart hadn’t been able to make it this far and he’d passed on some thirteen months before. He’d left the majority of his paintings to her and a few select ones to his three other children; a fairy in a jungle of overgrown daffodils for Kate; a dragon flying over the sea for Sean; a beautiful sorceress for Lydia. They all had theirs framed and hung in their family homes, but Bailey’s remained in the studio. For now. Until the lease ran out two months from now.Then she had no idea where to put them. It was the one thing she’d been stressing over all night, as she watched Lydia say her vows to Vincent, her boyfriend of a year, and denied three young men dances, as her mother glared at her while she talked to one of Vincent’s sisters, who was married anyway. She’d barely given any thought to marriage or children of her own until the Best Man made his speech and it hit her just how far she was from either of those things. Then she’d drank three glasses of champagne and snuck away from the festivities. She doubted anybody noticed, anyway.She must have walked a mile down the beach before she reached a dock that stretched a few hundred feet outward. The wood was warm as it met the sanded skin of her soles and she reveled in it as the ocean breeze blew through the straggly strands of her sandy blonde hair. She’d always been complimented on her hair, and her cornflower blue eyes, by everybody but her mother who detested the length Bailey preferred.She clenched her jaw and shut her eyes against the thought of her mother; no good came from that. When she opened them again, she was at the end of the dock, her toes skirting the edge of the rough, splintered wood. There was no guardrail and for a hopeless moment, Bailey thought of jumping into the dark blue depths to see where they would take her. Anywhere was better than here. But she didn’t. She stayed on the dock. She sat down, allowing her shorter than usual legs to dangle below, feet barely submerged in the comforting coolness. She took a deep breath and allowed her muscles to relax for the first time in hours.But when she felt something brush against her toes, she tensed once again, her feet immediately retracting from the water until her knees were pressed to her chest. She watched the water with wide eyes, and her heart pounded when she noticed a shadow in its depths. It didn’t move for a long while, but then it did.A crown of white hair rose above the surface, a pair of dark green eyes appearing beneath the wet bangs. Then there was a nose and then a pair of think green lips. The creature’s skin was a pale—but not sickly—green and its cheeks were rounded, the chin pointed slightly. Not of it was unattractive. It, in fact, looked like a she.This was confirmed when the shoulders and torso also emerged. Bailey looked away, embarrassed as she discovered this beautiful…woman (?) was topless. The naked woman tilted her head at that. “I’m so sorry,” Bailey said, shielding her eyes. “I didn’t know you were here; I should…I should go. I’ll give you a little privacy.” She began to stand. “Privacy?” the woman asked, her voice lyrical and carrying a strange echo-quality. “What does this word mean?” That’s odd, Bailey thought to herself. But she’s probably a foreigner. “Privacy,” she explained, settling back down, “is when you want to be alone.” “I do not,” the woman said. “Nobody wants to be alone. That is absurd.” “Why?” Bailey asked. After all, she wanted to be alone. She usually was alone. “Because when you are alone, you are likely to be lonely,” the strange woman told her. “Nobody likes lonely.” Bailey had no argument for that. So she changed the subject: “Why are you swimming out here naked?” she asked.“Naked?” the woman asked. “What is this word?’ Bailey sighed. This woman, though her voice was strange, was obviously not unfamiliar with English; she should know this word at least. “When you don’t wear clothes,” she sighed, exasperated. “Where are your clothes, by the way?” “I know not what ‘clothes’ are, nor do I believe I have them,” the woman said, squinting her eyes a little. “Your tail is strange.” Bailey’s eyes widened at that and turned her head to stare at her bottom. She didn’t have a tail. “What are you--?” She practically fell into the water at the sight of a large, scaly, navy blue tail that appeared just next to the woman, her heart pounding as she realized what, exactly, she was dealing with here. “Are you a…?” She couldn’t even finish her sentence as the tail swished, almost appearing to be involuntary and she shook her head, squeezing her eyes shut tightly. This cannot be happening, she thought to herself. Sirens don’t— But then she opened her eyes at there she was, a siren looking right up at her, tail still swishing behind her, head tilted and hair beginning to dry in the hot summer air. “I am Serena,” the siren informed her. “My name is ironic, I know, but I was named by my human mother before I received my tail.” “R-received?” Bailey asked. “You mean…you weren’t born with a tail?” Serena shook her head. “Sirens are rarely born; there aren’t enough males to fertilize us.”“Then how…?” “My mother passed when I was a toddler—I do not even remember her name or her warmth—and my stepfather, who they tell me was a heartless man, brought me out to the ocean to drown. My adoptive mothers saved my life and gave me a tail so that I could survive with them in the ocean. It’s the way most of us are made.” “Mothers?” It was a stupid thing to get stuck on, truthfully, but it was the thing that rang most loudly for Bailey. “You had more than one?” The siren nodded. “Of course. With very few males to populate us, sirens often mate in pairs of females, if at all. Female mates bond for life and raise their adopted offspring together. Only sometimes do you see a male and a female siren with natural-born siren children. But that is not how I was raised.” Bailey’s entire body began to tingle at that. She had never once considered the possibility that she...that sirens…that… Her mind with swimming with the information she’d just received. “How do….is it possible…can an adult human become a siren?” she asked. She had not expected those words to come tumbling from her mouth, but they did. It was also at that moment when she discovered that that was a question she was very interested in knowing the answer to. She leaned forward, her dress falling down her thighs as she waited for Serena’s answer. The siren frowned. “I don’t know,” she said, deep in thought. “I don’t recall ever meeting a human before this day. Usually, we are not allowed to come above the surface.” “Usually? What changed that?” Bailey asked. “You kicked my head,” Serena informed her with a slight glare. “Sorry,” Bailey said. “I am unharmed,” Serena assured her, “but I do not know the answer to your question. I would have to ask my mothers. Will you be here again tomorrow?” The beach was far out of her way—the studio and her apartment were both on the other side of town and it would take at least a half hour to get here at any time of day—but she nodded, anyway. “Yes,” said Bailey. “I will be here.” The siren nodded. “Then I will meet you when the sun is highest in the sky,” she said. Noon, Bailey’s mind supplied for her. I can do noon. “Deal,” she said. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Serena.” “I will see you tomorrow as well, Human,” Serena replied and disappeared beneath the surface. “Bailey!” the woman shouted after her. “My name is Bailey!” Serena surfaced a dozen feet away. “I’ll see you soon, Human Bailey!” she called, then waved and dove under once again. Bailey watched for a few moments, as her shadow moved farther and farther until it was gone, the setting sun glittering over the horizon. Her entire body continued to tingle in excitement as a smile spread across her lips.
  11. LAS VEGAS, NV - Jump Cover Inc. has announced the launch of its new range of accident insurance policies. The policies created specifically for tandem students, available online via the company’s website www.jumpcover.com would seem very affordable, starting at just $24 they provide one-jump instant cover offering payouts up to $100,000 in the event of an injury. “Just like renting a car customers can choose to take out accident insurance before they skydive” said Jump Cover President Paul Blair; he added, “We hope DZOs will see the benefits of offering their tandem customers this choice at the point of sale or during the check in process.” INNOVATIVE INSURANCE There are currently no other instant policies of this type available anywhere in the USA. Most insurance companies ask for huge amounts of information with many taking days to respond with a costly quote. The US insurance industry is like no other - in addition to the numerous federal regulations that must be complied with each state has its own specific legislation governing the insurance industry including varying taxes and fees. Blair said “it took a long time to get right but I wanted to make the process of buying a policy as simple and easy as possible with absolutely no paperwork involved” - a policy can be purchased securely online in less than two minutes. With skydiving being such a weather dependant sport cancellations are well catered for. Customers can easily reschedule their insurance by sending a simple email if their jump gets cancelled due to bad weather and the company also offers a full refund for any customers who don’t go through with their jump, for whatever reason. A NEW UP-SELL OPTION FOR DZOs Although tandem students can buy their policies directly through Jump Cover’s slick website the company intends to authorize Drop Zones, as its main sales channel, to introduce Jump Cover policies to their tandem students in return for generous commissions. This should prove to be an attractive new up-sell option for DZOs particularly in these increasingly competitive times. James La Barrie’s recent dropzone.com article “6 Tips to Boost the Bottom Line” talks about how “creating opportunities to maximize on customer expenditure is essential” – unlike other up-sell options such as merchandise there are no upfront costs involved so Jump Cover would seem like an ideal way for DZOs to boost their bottom line. Blair who is a decorated British Army Vet and a qualified tandem instructor with almost 1800 jumps said “we believe our products provide a win-win solution, tandem customers get peace of mind from an invaluable financial safety net, while DZOs can generate a significant additional income stream.” CREDIBILITY After a lengthy consultation period with the USPA and several major tandem providers the company tailored its products specifically for the US market. The company also has some impressive backing; Jump Cover products are underwritten by Inter Hannover one of the largest insurance and underwriting companies in the world with specialist advice provided by Aon, the largest insurance broker in the world. PRICING AND AVAILABILITY There are three levels of insurance on sale now: $24, $29 or $35 for $25,000, $50,000 or $100,000 levels of payout respectively. Although currently only available for those customers doing their jumps in California, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Michigan and Nevada it is understood that additional states will be added in the coming weeks. Blair said “we plan to roll out our tandem policies across the USA this summer, in addition to our standard products we will be adding a Bespoke Tandem Policy for VIPs and high net worth individuals. Later this year there will also be a Pro Cover option for all those professionals who make a living from the skydiving industry.” ENDS CONTACT For more information or for US DZOs wishing to register for the programme contact Paul Blair on jump@jumpcover.com or 702.560.6490.