Sunday, March 04, 2007

Turning 31 on a 15 minute call

So... I turned 31. That's the bad news. The good news is that I did it with a certain amount of style.

On 2 March 2007 at around 17:30 I was standing in the door of a Twin Otter looking at my instructor. 3 seconds later I was in freefall trying to learn to float up instead of just falling down. About 55 seconds later I had the most beautiful canopy in the world above my head and I was enjoying the sights.

Turn right 90 degrees and there's this beautiful long sandy beach stretching on for miles and miles. If you turned left 90 degrees from that, there were mountains with an almost full moon above them. Another 180 degrees and the sun was starting to set, colouring the sky orange, purple and a deep, deep blue. It was truly stunning.

On 3/3, my official 'getting sodding old' day, I tried to break my instructor. In retrospect, maybe showing up at the dropzone while most people were still thinking about their first cup of coffee for the day and asking if we could manifest for the first load before he'd even found his suit, let alone done his stretching might have been a bit pushy. But in my defense, he then manifested us on a 15 minute call for the rest of the day, with a 1 hour break for lunch.

So my birthday went something like this... Suit up, gear check, gear up, rest in the plane. Then out the door, do some training and exercises, fly the canopy back to the DZ, grab the whole mess of fabric and take a nice brisk walk or jog to the packing hangar. Fran would then ask a packer to get my stuff done for the next load, I'd have some water while we did the debrief and the brief for the next load and about 15 minutes later, we went again.

I nearly missed my 60th jump and only realised it was the next jump because Cheryl arrived at the dropzone and asked what jump I was on. I honestly didn't know and had to check my log computer.

8 loads later I was aching, but I passed my FS1 which means I'm now allowed to fly with other people in the UK. More importantly though, I'd had an awesome day. I've got some great DV footage of me canning myself laughing at about 120mph during some exercises and on my 4-way graduation dive.

One last monster track into the distance and it was time for my last canopy ride for the vacation. The elements cooperated again to give me a most picturesque final flight to the ground and then I bought the obligatory case of beer. What a day.

2 days is just too short a trip to Empuriabrava... I have to go back for a full week soon! It would have been the perfect vacation if Ryanair weren't such an inconsistent bunch of twats, but that's a whole 'nother story.


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