In sleep it sang to me, in dreams it came. That pond which calls to me and speaks my name. And do I swoop again? For now I find, the water of the pond is there, around my mind. (foreshadowing)
Several of the Flight Providers crew packed up for the weekend and headed down to West Tennessee Skydiving to jump the fastest climbing aircraft in the US. We headed out at different times and converged at the dropzone on Friday. We were able to get one jump in on Friday to get acclimated to the aircraft speed. This is how you start Labor Day weekend right. Brandon, Lukus, Daniel, Nick Adam, Evan
The Millennial part of me says I need to start taking more #Selfies and photos of food in order to go #Viral. The Gen X part of me says the Millennial part needs to shut up, get a job, and stop wanting something for nothing. So they get to carrying on, and then I hear a random person in the background yell, “JUST TAKE THE PHOTO!” Snap back to reality, oh there goes gravity and we are loading the plane again. Troy, Joe
Casey helps Layton pack his parachute. Layton uses the upside down packing technique. More importantly, his shirt matches his canopy. It’s an unspoken rule that when your shirt matches your parachute you won’t have a malfunction.
Daniel making progress toward his A-license. I think Daniel was able to make 6 jumps this weekend. He went through turns, docking, barrel rolls, flips, and prepared for the final check dive. So close to getting his A-license.
From the very beginning Daniel wanted to get his hands on everything. We want to learn how the parachute works, how they are designed, and how to pack. Once you learn how to pack you start getting more jumps. By visiting different dropzones, you’ll jump and learn about different types of equipment.
Jump, pack, nap, repeat. During a jump your adrenaline peaks. You effectively get an energy boost. Once you land your body starts to recover and then crashes. As you get more experience your body and mind get more accustomed to the jumps.
I’m not sure what’s going on here but something tells me that Troy is going to be the victim in this jump.
You don’t just walk in and instantly become a part of this crew. It takes time to build trust within the team. These guys have been jumping together for a while. They’ve seen each other progress in skydiving. Working their way up in ratings, licenses, and/or skill sets.
Time to relax and hangout. This is how dinner works. Brandon’s family fixed dinner for everyone Friday night. One of the regular jumpers at West Tennessee Skydiving returned the favor Saturday night and FlightProviders stepped up Sunday night. Skydiving is a close community.
Casey, Joe, and Layton jumped out of the biplane. This is an amazing specialty skydive. The airplane takes off with the wind in your face. The pilot rocks the wings when he is ready for the jumper to climb into position. You reach up against the wind and pull yourself up into a standing position on the seat. The pilot then barrel rolls the airplane upside and you swing out of the seat suspended from your arms. I could keep typing in an effort to explain but a photo is worth 3440 words. Although it is amazing to think about all the work, jumps, and training that goes into just this one photo. The jumper has to go through all 25 jumps and maneuvers to get an A-license. It then takes a total of 50 jumps to get your B-license which is recommended for specialty jumps. Not to mention all the flight hours and certificates held by the pilot.
After the biplane ride I was able to talk Joe and Layton into a ride on a roller coaster. I charged them a nominal fee of course. I call this ride the “Stay Here and Don’t Move for Three Hours.” After about 2 hours and 45 minutes they figured out that they were their own captors. After they escaped I found them wandering around the packing mat. I got them manifested for the next load. That bought me a few more minutes.
One great thing about visiting other drozpones is picking up on new techniques. Brandon is trying a couple different packing styles to improve the openings of his parachute. Troy is coordinating the next jump. Troy is always up for a fun jump. I have no idea what Lukus is doing. Judging by the photo I would guess he’s trying to identify the species of fire ants that have infested his pants.
As a team we spent some focused time discussing the meaning of commitment. We each took turns telling a story of a role model that exemplified commitment in our own lives. We formed a bond and “Team Committed” was born. A few motivational quotes come to mind; “If you don’t make the formation, don’t bother opening your parachute.”, “A low turn is better than not touching the pond at all.” and, “Pride is more important than not wearing a cast.”
And now we will delve into the psychology of a pond swoop. Step one; Get Fully Committed. It’s not called “Team Committed” for nothing. In this photo you can see the committed/skilled swooper is center aligned on the pond. There is no doubt in his mind that everything is AWESOME, everything is cool when you’re part of a team. Everything is awesome, when you’re living out a dream.
With all of the awesomeness going perfectly it’s time to level up on commitment. A single foot touches the water and a rooster tail appears behind the swooper. Finesse, style, and confidence merging into a seamless glide across the glassy water.
The second foot barley kisses the water’s surface. The swooper glides effortlessly across the water like a skipping stone across a river.
For a second the jumper ponders, “I might have committed too hard.” But then quickly remembers there is no such thing.
Superman slide for the finale. Don’t worry, this was all planned during the Commitment phase.
A new sport is born NCP (Noodling Canopy Pilot).
Lukus stares back at the pond with a look in his eye that says, “You Just Try that again Pond!” In unspoken words the dissipating of ripples signal that the pond understands.
“Everyone once in a while you have to show the pond who’s boss. The pond is an untamed stallion that needs gentle guidance but also a firm lead.” – Lukus
Here’s another way to swoop. It’s amazing what can happen when two people are committed to the same goal.
Yeah this one looks pretty committed also.
I’ll close with this photo. This is an amazing life that we get to experience. This photo looks like a less busy Bob Ross painting, but instead of birds we have parachutes. We had great weather all weekend. The clouds presented an awesome background for jumping and photos. Looking forward to our next trip to West Tennessee Skydiving