Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Here we go for the 100th time!

We left the house on Saturday 20/10/2007 at some ungodly early hour and the weather was perfect; blue skies and a light wind just managing to turn the windmills at the Ford plant.

By the time we turned off of the M20, we were driving under a steel grey sky, watching the hot air balloons drift and as we turned around the corner to Leeds Castle, the trusty iPod in the car dock selected Megadeth's High Speed Dirt for our listening pleasure. How ... fitting.

When we got to the DZ, Cheryl kindly unpacked my parachute for me seeing as I'd done a half arsed job getting it back in the bag the previous Wednesday and I spent a frustrating half hour putting it back in. Then I finally ordered breakfast and sat down to listen to the cargo psych themselves up for their once in a lifetime experiences.

Breakfast was not to be. Well, mostly not to be. Normally, when there's cloud at Headcorn, you sit. And sit. And sit. But on this particular day, for some odd reason, they wanted to put a lift up to cloud base. Cheryl just saw a blur as I hauled ass out of the shed to get my name down for that.

A half hour later, we were sitting in the Islander, waiting for take-off, and it really was my lucky day. They had a student on board doing a static line jump, so I'd convinced the jump master that I really wasn't crazy, but that I really, really wanted to get out at 3,500'. The rest of the load decided to see how much altitude they could get, and it turned out that many of the guys on the load have never been out the door under 5,000' and never want to. Weird!

By 2,500', I was hanging out the hole where you could optionally put a door, watching the scenery roll by. At 3,500' they kicked the student out... I was watching, out the door waiting for the rope to snap tight and fabric to appear. 15 seconds later, I flipped off a quick wave, and stepped out into empty space at 3,400'. 3 seconds after departing the plane, I went back to my arch, having just deployed my parachute, and waited for it to open.

For the first time in my career so far, I had most of the English sky to myself. I only had one other person to share with, so a quick flight back to the DZ and a spiral or two, and I was well out of his way. There may have been some excited yelling, but I can blame the student for that.

The landing was beautiful... Perfect holding just north of the runway, then a 180 degree turn to fly towards the river and a short right hand pattern to bring me skiiing in next to the pit. When my feet touched, I was still moving forward, flying the canopy to the very last second when it ran out of steam, avoiding the bigger chunks of sheep shit as I went.

That's 100 jumps done. I guess I better start working on that 1000.

/Lemming does what lemmings do...

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