My first skydiving course
Last year I did my first tandem jump. It was an incredible experience and I decided to take a course to learn how to skydive on my own. The skydiving season was almost over, so I had to wait until spring. My determination was getting stronger during the winter months. I used this time to watch a lot of skydiving videos and do some research.
I've found out that there are two different training methods:
- Static line. You jump alone from the first time on. In the beginning the parachute opens automatically and there is almost no freefall time. After some jumps you start pulling by yourself with more and more altitude and delay time.
- Accelerated freefall (AFF). This is considered a faster way to learn skydiving. You start jumping from the maximal altitude (ca. 4000 m) and hence experience up to 50 sec freefall time every jump. In the beginning two instructors help you to get a stable body position. Later on you fly with only one instructor and do some turns and backflips. After passing all exercises you are allowed to jump alone and prepare for getting a license.
My local drop zone offers only static line courses, so it was an easy decision. I booked the first available course in 2012 and waited patiently.
The ground training took one and a half days, including theory and some practical exercises in case of any malfunction. Unfortunately, the wind was pretty high and I had to wait two weeks to finally do my first jump. After putting on my rig and climbing into the airplane I was tense. I tried to enjoy the flight since the view was amazing. But when my instructor opened the door my brain just shut down. Another skydiver jumped out first and this view was just overwhelming. I sat down in the door and jumped. I couldn't remember the first two or three seconds after my exit. This phenomenon is called 'sensory overload' and pretty common during the first jump. I recovered my consciousness and looked up. My parachute was open, but the lines were twisted. This malfunction is usually easy to solve. Imagine sitting in a swing and spinning clockwise: the lines get twisted. By moving your body and pulling the lines you can untwist them.
While heading back to the airfield I had plenty of time to admire the excellent view. I followed the instructions and landed safely. It was unbelievable! I was really happy, but also disappointed with my exit. I hoped it would improve after some more jumps. But it didn't. I couldn't get rid of the sensory overload, not even after 12 jumps. I failed almost every exit and arched after the parachute had already opened — in other words: too late. During my 10th jump I even dived head down and was really lucky not to entangle with the opening parachute. With those unstable exits my instructors of course couldn't let me open the parachute on my own. Practicing exits on the ground over and over again didn't help either.
So after two months I quit my training. The only way left to fulfill my dream was trying out an AFF course at another drop zone. But due to my failure I procrastinated until the skydiving season in Germany ended again. Check my another post about how this idea worked out for me!