Netheravon 25. September 2009

Back here again, desperately trying to find an FS-1 coach to get my FS-1 license done.
Only did one jump today as I developed one very nasty headache and it seems this is one of the rare times I didn’t bring any painkillers along.

Oh, what fun 😉

Beside that the Friday night jumps will commence soon, preparations are under way as I speak (I mean write).
Error: the communication with Picasa Web Albums didn’t go as expected. Here’s what Picasa Web Albums said:

Error 404 (Not Found)!!1

404. That’s an error.

The requested URL /data/feed/api/user/martin.mcdowell/album/Netheravon?kind=photo was not found on this server. That’s all we know.

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Skydiving after 11 months

After waiting for 11 months and practically giving up on the notion of jumping out of a plane for the foreseeable future. The given opportunity came last week, Friday off and a sunny forecast. Great weekend.

Managed 7 jumps the Netheravon DZ. Now all I am left to do is to get my FS1 licence as its needed in the UK for jumping in groups.

Didn’t take any photos, was a bit worried would get nicked as the DZ is situated on an active military base (technically its an airfield camp).


Ooops, or how I ripped my container on a Cessna 206, part 3

Ooops no more. I have received my container back this morning via FedEx. The tracking itself proves why it sometimes makes sense to switch your courier service. As I mentioned in my previous post here and here, I chose DHL to send my container to the U.S. It has a good network here in the UK and since I sent it in November there is an even closer service location right here in Haverfordwest‘s WH Smith shop. But there was a huge delay in the dispatch location in the States delaying the shipment for quite an unreasonable time. FedEx took just 6 days!!!

The container was repaired free of charge which is a big plus for Aerodyne even though there seemed to be a manufacturing fault to which they conceded. At least they fixed the problem and sent the container back to me, again, free of charge.

But there is a problem which I won’t follow-up on. There is a small discrepancy with the logo which was on the flap that had to be replaced.

Before the repair (08-Nov-2008)
Before the repair (08-Nov-2008)
After the repair
After the repair (03-Mar-2009)

The blue colour of the arrow pointing down is not the navy blue colour it was before.

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Ooops, or how I ripped my container on a Cessna 206, part 2

I have now managed to send off the container to the manufacturer Aerodyne in Florida. I have just driven back from Swansea where I send off the container through a DHL ServicePoint location in the Parc Tawe Staples shop. Great service, if you ask me, as you don’t have to pay a high price to have your packed shipped and you also choose what boy its going to be sent in – the price of shipment depends on the size of the box, but with a upper weight limit. I sent in a large box which has an upper weight limit of 5kg – even though my container weighed only 3.5 kg. There are currently about 750 ServicePoint locations in the UK.

When the lady in Staples was helping me pack I kept on thinking that I am forgetting to post something, but I could not put my finger on exactly what. Considering I still had an disassembled container this morning I had to move fast so I unintentionally forgot to send the Aerodyne form that should be in the DHL package.

What can I say, ooops for the second time?


Ooops, or how I ripped my container on a Cessna 206, part 1

My recent visit to the motherland gave me the opportunity for yet another skydiving session, I joined my instructor and mentor Aleš Debeljak from the Paranoia skydiving school.

All went well and on the third jump of the second day just as I exited the Cessna 206 I apparently managed to hook my rig on the side of the door which resulted in a nasty tear in my container on the reserve parachute flap. I am suspecting poor stitching but will have to send the whole thing to Florida to be fixed.

Here are photos of the my sad-looking Aerodyne Icon Sport container:



Day 5 in Deland – back in the air again

The morning had low clouds but we hoped that they would soon lift and that we would see blue skies again – unfortunately this took much longer than first predicted as we started jumping at about 1PM.

As it was a Sunday most of the skydivers wanted to make the most of the day and the DZ became very busy as there were 3 planes flying at any given time (Twin Otter, PAC 820, Skyvan or Porter), today we saw the first appearance of the Skyvan. The problem was that the pilot for the Skyvan was the same as for the Porter so the jumpers who wanted to use the Skyvan were without their favourite plane for a few times during the day.

The photo on the top was made on the last jump where Barbara (white helmet, pink grips), Babi (white helmet, blue/white suit), Gvido (red helmet) and myself (blue/silver suit) made a 4-way formation.

I managed to make 4 jumps and they all went quite well, the last one was even from the Skyvan which turned out to be quite a terrifying experience. We were the first group to leave the airplane but none of us had any idea how to open the door. The team behind us were some Swedes and they did know how to do it either. We found a Slovene freeflyer Igor who saved the day (or the load in this case) and showed us how to do it.

Jumping out of the Skyvan’s ramp was a exhilarating experience and very frightening. I will probably stick to the Otter and PAC from now on. I am still quite comfortable leaving the plane by its side door.

Photo of Skyvan by Tony Danbury

Skydive Sebastian

As we woke this morning we could only take a depressing glance out of the window and despair over the rubbish weather we had. It was bucketing down. We had to decide either to stay in the house, go on a (inside) sightseeing tour, or drive to a DZ that does not have bad weather. We chose on the latter and decided to go to Skydive Sebastian – a DZ located in the Florida town called Sebastian (duh) just over 2 hours drive from Deland, passing Titusville and Cape Canaveral on the way.

When we arrived there the weather was great but very hot and humid, this place would probably resemble the gates of hell during summer 🙂

The winds were picking up and we got a warning from the DZ staff that the landing might be a bit risky, above all we wanted to do an 8-way. Well we did try and we managed to get a 6-way in the end. The landing for me was actually quite good, it was just immediately after the landing I had problems with. After landing uncomfortably close to the airfield’s barbed wire I apparently managed to do that on one of the rare mud patches. As I could not kill the chute straight away I got dragged through the above mentioned mud with a nice effect visible on my jump suit.
Most of us did not land where we should have and some of the 6-way members even landed on the neighbouring golf course. The DZ staff came to pick us all up 🙂 Needless to say that was the last jump of the day as there was a weather hold for the rest of the day. There was an approaching storm coming from the north – most probably the same one we wanted to avoid in Deland.

After the jump we made a quick visit to Wal-Mart and then to the local sandy beach in the town of Orchid. Here is a snapshot from there…


Day 2 at Deland

Now that I have got my reserve deployment out of the way I can get to some good and proper skydiving. Managed to get the record number of jumps for a day – 5 and I could have done at least one more but I had to arrange another rental car for our group.

The picture on the left is showing our makeshift hangar – the flag has now been moved to a proper flag post close to the boarding zone – pics to follow 🙂

I have been having some problems with my landings and I was planning to do a canopy control course in Deland, but the instructors have not appeared to be very interested so I was lucky to have my old instructor from my home DZ in Prečna here – Aleš Debeljak. He gave me some simple live guidances during my landing and they went great. I was apparently flaring to late and that made my landing quite sore – especially on the knees.

I would also recommend to have you rigged packed by one of the riggers here – it makes jumping much more enjoyable and you can get more jumps in than usual. It is also very good if you have a new parachute that does not like to be packed very much.

The weather was not as nice as previous days so some of the lifts were at a lower altitude than 4.000 m. If this happens – tough, no money back at all.

Tomorrow looks like a bad day for jumping, there is some chance of showers and it will probably be overcast if not completely cloudy.


Day 3 in Orlando

This is getting to be really tough. Last nights session started at midnight and I somewhat remember going to bed at 2am. This morning there are another three sessions, the first one on which starts at 9am. I am well and truly sore all over and hadn’t had this much physical exercise in a good few years.

Most of us, who are doing RW work in the tunnel don’t have much time to do anything else. In fact we just discussing yesterday how we mostly just sleep, fly in the tunnel and eat a little. In any case, I hope my skydiving skills should improve immensely.
I hope it was just down to tiredness but I found myself flipped on my back after trying to do an exercise my instructor Aljaž showed me. It could have been shock really but I couldn’t get myself turned over. It took me a few seconds to make myself do the right manoeuvre I got back on my belly.

This part I write in the evening. Already completed 2 sessions today, only one left at midnight and another tomorrow. After doing so much exercise I feel really fit, the weather here is still holding and is sunny and quite hot, yes wet’n cold Pembrokeshire seems a universe away.
Had a quite nice afternoon lunch at Sizzler, after only hearing about it I took the opportunity to try it out.

Indoor skydiving

First day in Orlando

The wind tunnel training started a day before I expected so I had to get up at about 6am. I did 5×2 minutes in the morning, then another 5×2 minutes in the afternoon and I have just completed another 2×2 minutes session. I have now finished debriefing and it is ten minutes to one in the morning! By my home watch it is just before 6am!

Don’t even think that flying in a wind tunnel is easy and not exhausting. My back is VERY sore. However I did manage to get some time and see a bit of Orlando from their buses. The one we used was very interesting and here is a photo to prove it. We passed a very funny building that looked like it was ripped out of the ground and landed on another one. It was probably also a bit of a joke on the hurricanes they tend to get here in Florida. As I was in the bus at the time I couldn’t get a decent photo of it.

I am otherwise surprised how much unusual and different everything is to me here. It is almost I still cannot believe I am in the U.S. It’s so much different from any European country I have visited till now. In fact, till now I have not been outside the European continent, if we count out that trip to Istanbul where I took a touristy boat ride to the Asian side of the city. And it seems that the people who said, that Americans love their SUVs were absolutely correct. The the majority of the population, that don’t have one at home, wished they could have one.
And now to report on the weather: is makes a nice change from the relatively cold and damp Pembrokeshire weather, here is is quite hot during the day with just a bit to cold nights. Well shouldn’t complain, it is mid February!