Monday, 12 January 2009

Skydiving in Eloy, Arizona

After a great snowboarding trip I only worked a few days and went off on a trip again on the 18th of Dec.

I had a direct flight to Phoenix, AZ and after waiting for quite some time for my taxi to the dropzone in Eloy, I finally arrived there at around 21:00h.
The only thing left open was the Bent Prop, the DZ's bar, and when I walked in, Binxy, a friend from Weston, was the first one to great me. We had a pint and another and then a few more and before I knew it I was climbing the outside wall of the pub?! It was a great way to start the holiday.

The jetleg was stronger than the hangover and I woke up around 8ish the next morning. I checked in with manifest and there was my shiny new rig!
After sorting out everything the jumping began. I did a solo jump to get used to my new canopy, a Saber2 170 in a Vector 3 and a few 2,3 and 4 ways. Then I decided to try to sit-fly. So I talked to Matt Hill, the load organizer of the day and my tunnel coach. He took his time to fully brief me as I have never tried to sit-fly before. I went to the shop, got me a free-fly suit and then we went up. To my surprise I sat almost all the way down. I continued to do more sits to practice before my tunnel coaching started.
The next day, Doug, another friend from Weston, his Dad and Anna, Binxy's girlfreind arrived and we did a few jumps together.
For the next few days were all jumping and tunnel, drinking at the brent prop, sleeping in the bunkhouse, getting up early and repeat!

I started the tunnel on my 3rd day and had only booked an hou, which at first seemed plenty. I soon discovered that I wanted more and then more again, so I ended up with 3h of coached time in the tunnel. It was fantastic and a big thanks goes out to Matt for his patience with me and teaching me so much cool stuff. We started with some back-flying and learned to walk in the tunnel.
Then I went on to learn some transitions from front to back, back to front and back to sit on the net. Finally I was ready to try to fly my first sit.
From there on it practicing more transitions, taking docks, moving around in the tunnel in all directions... I usually had 15-30 min of tunnel time in a day, so there was enough time to get at least 5 jumps in as well. It was quite hard work but it was great fun.

On the 24th I flew over to California to see my host family from when I was an exchange student way back in 1994. I hadn't seen them for about 4 years now and it was great to catch up with everyone. Unfortunately I only stayed a couple days and went back to Eloy on the 26th for more jumping and tunnel.

Now the Christmas Boogie had started, jump tickets were cheaper and the evenings were filled with activities, like a big bond fire night, a talent show with people singing, playing guitar, belly dancing, ... I even learned how to breathe fire and by the end of the night we were all dancing like crazy. This is the reason why we got an insurance for extreme sports, its not the jumping that is dangerous!

The days, again, were filled with lots of jumping, I mostly did sit flying, because I really wanted to get good at it. But I did a few flat jumps with the other guys from Weston. Besides jumping out of the usual planes, the Skyvan and the Otter. I also had a chance to jump out of a Porter, a DC-3

and an old Beech!

One afternoon we booked ourself a balloon jump.

I had never flown in a balloon before and the feeling of floating above the ground silently is fantastic.

We were at about 5000 feet and you watch the others fall straight down and you think: "Dude! Time to pull! Uhm, pull? Ok, honestly, I think its time to pull!" And then I stept onto the side of the basket with my back to the outside and just let myself fall backwards. After a few backloops I checked my altitude and saw that I still had quite a bit of time left, more than I expectde, so I did some few turns, watched the balloon and eventually pulled...

... and landed somewhere in the desert where some of the other were already waiting. What a jump!!!

Soon the boogie was over and it was time to go back home.

My goal for the year was to reach 100 jumps, I am now 3 short of 200,
my sit flight is not bad and I am sure it won't be long before I get back to Eloy. Besides being broke, I am not sure what the plan for this year is gonna be, hopefully take part in the nationals with a free-fly team, learn to fly head down and maybe get up to 400 jumps !?
Lets just see. One thing is for sure, I am a tiny bit addicted!