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Monday, October 22, 2012

First Freefall

Yesterday was a milestone in my skydiving career; when I let go of the airplane, my instructor did not have my pilot chute. Instead, when I let go of the plane, I presented a nice arch with my hips forward and my legs extended with pointed toes, but I was falling faster than I usually do because my parachute was not opening, yet. It was up to me to reach down to the handle behind my right hip and toss it underhand out and to my right. Once I did this, I returned to my arch with both arms extended out in front of me. I heard the pilot chute catch air and start to pull out the main parachute. Now everything began feeling the same as my jumps usually feel. My parachute began opening over head and my body shifted from falling belly down to hanging vertically from the parachute. I watched the chute fill up with air rather slowly and then pulled down my brakes several times to aid the end cells in opening and inflating. I took a deep breath, and thought, "I threw my own pilot chute, I fell through the air unassisted in free fall and pulled my own pilot chute. I really, actually, truly skydived."

The difference between this jump and my last was small, and huge. On my last three jumps, my instructor removed my pilot chute and then inserted a "dummy" handle where the real handle usually lives. After I let go of the airplane, I arched, then reached and pulled the dummy handle, and then returned to my arch. My chute was already opening when I started falling from the airplane, but there is a short (app. 3 sec.) free fall. Everything happened really fast and it was important for my to do my practice pull really quickly or my chute would open before I pulled and I would not pass the skill. On this most recent jump, everything went a little slower. I had more time to enjoy the falling sensation and the wind in my face; I was able to focus on my body position and pull the handle deliberately. I was nervous all over again, like it was my first jump ever, and when that chute opened I was breathing deeply with a huge smile spread across my face, enjoying the adrenaline rush. The extra seconds of free fall felt like an eternity, but an eternity that I actually wanted to last forever.

On my next two jumps I will be waiting a full ten seconds before I throw the pilot chute. These jumps will be jumps two and three in category C, and are considered "free fall jumps." I seriously cannot wait for that opportunity. Next week, I will also have my radio taken away and I will need to complete a landing pattern on my own, without help from Rudi. The thought of landing on my own scares me quite a bit, I am sure I will be full of butterflies the whole time I am at the drop zone again next week. But obviously, I am looking forward to those butterflies and hopefully succesfully completing another step towards my A-license.

In other news... I was shopping for dog food at PetSmart last week and kept being pulled towards the doggy costumes. They were on clearance and oh so tempting. I picked out a frog costume that said priced as marked, but it was not marked. It was really, really cute, but I thought that I really should not waste money on a halloween costume for my dog. I told myself that if it was less than $15, I would buy it. I brought the costume up to the register along with the huge bag of Blue Buffalo grain-free dog food, Kong Wobbler that acts as a physical puzzle and rewards the dog with treats, and a replacement green ring (one of Gnasher's favorite toys that he completely destroyed). Before having the cashier ring up the merchandise, I asked her to price check the costume. It was $12, Gnasher would be a frog. My total was $105, which made me cringe. I think I spend a little too much on that pup. When I brought home the costume, Gnash was excited to wear it and let me put it on him. As soon as it was on, his behavior changed. He kept constant physical contact with either me or Jamie, and only wanted to cuddle and nap on top of us. As soon as we took the costume off, he was running around like a maniac again. I am not sure if that means he likes it or not, but I did get some amazing pictures.

[Gnash chewed the top off of the Kong Wobbler the following day instead of figuring out how to get it to dispense treats]