At the beginning of the year I wasn’t sure what the summer would bring. We had some tough decisions to make and a number of hurdles to overcome. I’m sure every business goes through this phase. You can’t do everything at once so you have to decide where to focus your time and energy. Our first commitment was to focus on people, which meant building the right atmosphere. I figured that if we could achieve that we’d have a fun place to hangout with friends and the business would follow.
We’re now eight months into summer. Over the last eight years our three busiest days have happened this summer. I figure that’s a good sign of progress. We have a number of students working toward their license and a growing group of regulars. As word spreads we continue to grow skydiving near Springfield, MO.
During the previous weekend, Emma passed her A-License graduation drive. This final evaluation covers a broad range of skills. Not many people take that first leap. It takes a certain personality to come back and make a second jump and then go on to get your license which takes 25 jumps. After jumping off and on for awhile Emma got focused this summer to get her license. She came to the dropzone when she could, even if the forecast wasn’t great. She often made 3-4 jumps in one day and always asked for advice on ways to improve. A lot of dedication, work, and fun has paid off! Flight Providers’ newest A-Licensed skydiver, Congrats Emma!
Thanks to Russell for flying this weekend. Russell has a lot of experience flying skydivers and always makes it a good time. Not a bad weekend when you can come out, fly a few loads, enjoy some great food and still have time to hit the pool before the week starts again.
Scott has been helping out a lot with coach jump and ground instruction. It’s great to have people that are willing to jump in and help where they can.
Daniel is also making progress. When you start learning to skydive the main goal is stay stable enough to deploy the parachute in good position. If you are out of position on or side or upside down that can cause problems during deployment. It’s easier to be stable if you leave the airplane stable. At a certain point though you have to show that you can get stable from any position. If you dive out of the airplane and end up on your back can you get stable? Those are the jumps that Daniel passed this weekend. Barrel rolls and flips are designed to get jumpers into an unstable position so they can recover. We start drilling the arched body position from the first jump. This is the first step in recovering from an unstable position. Daniel completed both maneuvers, tracked away for separation, and then deployed his parachute.
And just when the fun gets started look who shows up. Always good to see Adam except for when he brings rain. Seems like that’s what happened the past couple times he came to the dropzone. But this ended up being a perfect day. Even after being gone a couple weekends Adam didn’t miss a beat.
And this is the fun you get to have when you have your license. We started the jump handsfree (I just coined the phrase “handsfree” for skydiving.) Scott leaves the airplane falling backwards because reasons. Heather is in the “Drop into action pose” as I like to call it. Whenever the superhero leaps off a building this is the pose they take. They got together in the air and made a three person circle.
Josh stopped in to check the place out. I think we’ll be seeing more of him. Adam leaves the airplane falling backwards because reasons. I need to come up with a name for this specific exit position. Maybe something like the “fetal release” or the “corpse drift” position. “Ok for the next jump I need two people on the step, one person in the door and Kevin, you take corpse drift.
And then after jumping… time to pack! Definitely not the most fun part of the skydive. Like I always tell my students, “You can skydive without a parachute, you just can’t skydive again.” Packing is somewhat of a necessary evil. Although once you’re done packing you can jump again! This photo of Adam, Josh, and Heather make me think it’s time to bring back blind-folded packing races. You have to be the first person to finish packing, jump the parachute, and not have a malfunction. You can learn a lot about different parachutes and containers from packing. Containers and parachutes are fairly similar but there are differences. If you start packing for other people you’ll learn about the differences.
It’s like our own episode of “Fixer Upper” or whatever one of those renovation shows is called. I should have taken a photo of the storage room before Steve and Chacy started renovations to convert it into a store. It was full of carpet tiles, folding chairs, a punching bag (which we still need to put up) and other miscellaneous things. Renovations are still underway, more updates to come.
Scot and Casey getting ready to go on a jump. Two of the more color coordinated individuals at the dropzone this weekend. (Only because Brandon wasn’t here.) Full face helmets are nice because because you can wear normal sunglasses under the visor, they keep the wind out of your face, and in the right light they can also make you look like a raccoon.
Pretty sure this is the photo we’re going to use for the cover of our next album. Judging by the pose of each person I’m guessing that Scot would be the singer, Casey would be the drummer, Scott would be the bass player and I would be on the tambourine.
Saturday was not looking good but everyone still showed up at 9am and Professor Scot got the class started. Radar was showing rain cells all around. All morning I was thinking that Adam and Lane would not get to jump. If we were able to get the ground school done that would still save us time later. Around noon it was still not looking great so we ordered pizza.
After the first jump course was over we decided to wait and see if the weather would clear up. Throwing axes and knives is not a bad way to kill an attacker or just a couple hours waiting for weather to clear. Apparently I was wrong, although not about the weather part. Overhearing the conversation Steve informed me that the first rule of a knife fight was to not let go of your knife. This made me very skeptical of Steve because his comment contradicted everything that I had learned from action movies. Any doubt I had about who would win between the two of us in a fight has been removed.
Near the end of the day we caught a break. The rain cleared enough for Adam and Lane to get in the air. Steve and Lance provided in-air support. Both did excellent in freefall and landing patterns were even better. Everyone is having a good time riding back to the hanger while Scot ponders about whether or not he left the microwave door open at his house.
Once that door opens on the airplane your mind goes into fight or flight mode. Your brain starts disregarding information that is not immediately critical to survival. On your every fist skydive your brain is telling you “This Isn’t Natural!” …and of course your brain is right. You have to learn to control your natural urge to tense up and brace yourself. On the first few jumps we don’t expect people to remember much. Memorizing what’s happening is definitely a lower priority when adrenaline kicks in. One of the first things we do on a debrief is to ask the students what they remember. The more they remember the more they’ll be able to build on that experience for next time. Instructors will us questioning techniques to help student recall their jump. Over the next couple jumps these students will start controlling their natural reaction and begin to make adjustments in the air. And then once the debrief over we play with dolls.
Saturday night we hit the lake, and we HIT IT HARD, literally. Thanks to Cacy and Steve for opening up their party boat! If there was a map showing our path around the lake it would probably look like 2 year old’s coloring book. Lots of indecision, changing our minds, and forgetting wallets guided our path. “I forgot my wallet” only works if at least one other person *didn’t* forget their wallet. Lance attempted to do some “Skurfer” boarding. There was a lot of noise, music, and conversations going on so it was difficult for Steve to hear the “GO” command from Lance. We decided to streamline the communication by relaying the message to Steve telephone style. Lance would yell “GO”, Chacy would then have to yell over the engine at Scot who would in turn yell at Casey. I was at the front of the boat so I would wait for Casey to throw something at me and I would then spill my drink on Steve and that would be the final “Punch It” signal. I’m not sure why that didn’t work. Lance probably just wasn’t that good at Skurfering. Needless to say we opened later than normal the next day but it was worth it.
After looking through the camera footage I found this clip of Russell landing the airplane. I just thought it was an interesting view of Silo Ridge Country Club. The clouds and shadows from the trees give the photo an interesting depth.