Jump 1 – 13,500′
HOTEL CHECK AND EXIT GOOD. 1ST COA RESPONDED TO PELVIS DOWN [HAND SIGNAL]. PRCT’S GOOD. 2ND COA GOOD. AA GOOD. GOOD 5-5 AND PULL. GREAT JOB! YAHOO – CLEARED TO II.
My first jump was simply amazing. As I approached the door to the plane, I was scared. I have always been afraid of heights. The view from the door is the most frightening thing I have ever seen. However, I had decided that I was going to do this. So, as I got in position, I forced my mind to ignore the fear. In the video, you can’t even see me hesitate. I got into position, ran through the hotel check, and jumped. What I was thinking at the time is in quotes: “Gee, this is loud.” A second passed. “My God, I’m not in the plane anymore.” You have to understand, almost everyone who dives, experiences ‘sensory overload’ for the first few seconds of the first jump. I was no exception. However, once I realized I was falling, I was fine. Also, there was no sensation of falling. In fact, it felt like floating on a strong wind. Another second passed. “Ok… Horizon,” I looked at the horizon. “Altimeter,” I looked at my altimeter. “Secondary,” I looked at the guy hanging onto my left side and he yelled “good”. “Primary,” I looked at the guy on my right, and he gave my the ‘arch more’ sign. “I’m arching as much as I can!” I pushed my arms a little higher. My primary JM gave me the thumbs up sign. “Ok, time for the practice rip cord touches.” “Look,” I looked toward the rip cord. I could not see my rip cord, but I knew where it was. “Touch,” I touched my rip cord. “Recover,” I restored my arch position. I did that two more times. Then, “horizon,” I looked at the horizon. “Altimeter,” I looked at the altimeter. “Secondary,” I looked at my secondary JM and he yelled “good”. “Primary,” I looked at my primary JM and he gave me the thumbs up sign. “Good, that’s over with.” I looked at my altimeter. “Wow, I’m still above 12,000 feet! Hey, there’s the cameraman.” Seeing the cameraman really relaxed me. I’m not sure why. “Why are my hands clenched?” I let my hands go loose. I waved at the cameraman. “This is great! It feels like I’m floating! This is awesome!” For the next 40 seconds or so, I just enjoyed the fall, and looked at my altimeter every few seconds. It was incredible. I can’t even begin to tell you what it was like. Then, at 5,500 feet, I gave the JMs the 5-5 sign. Then at 4,500 feet, “look”, I looked toward the rip cord. “Reach,” I grabbed the rip cord. “Pull,” I pulled the rip cord. “Check,” I twisted my body just a little as I checked the rip cord. (That gets rid of the vacuum above your back.) “One, one thousand, two, one thousand, three, one thousand. Parachute looks good. … That was really easy!” I released the steering toggles and went through the control check. A right turn, a left turn, full brakes, everything was working fine. I could hear the radio. The guy on the radio said, “all right, good job. Can you see the airport? It’s almost right below you.” I looked down, and saw the runway and field. I floated around for quite a while, just enjoying the scenery. It was beautiful. Then, came the landing. As I approached, the instructor on the radio told me when to turn and when to stop turning. Then, about three seconds before I hit the ground, he said “flare, flare, flare.” I flared. That means I pulled on the brakes. I landed very softly. I was not prepared for the forward momentum, so I ended up on my knees. However, it really was a gentle landing. Before I went to Pepperell, I had been under the impression that the landing would be harder.