Thursday, June 21, 2012

My Skydiving Days (Part 3).....

Some of my skydiving memories appear in my mind as individual slides from a carousel that someone has dropped and carelessly reassembled. (Does anyone out there even REMEMBER slide carousels?)

I know these things happened, and I can picture where some of them occurred. I just can't always put them in a correct time sequence, and sometimes I can't put them at the correct drop zone.

It would help if I could find my logbook and read some of my jumpmasters' comments (painful though some of them may be). I know I didn't throw it away, heaven forbid, but I couldn't find it last time I went looking for it.

After my first experience with freefall, the sequence was to complete a certain number of "good" jumps at each stage (3 jumps? 5? I can't remember) - 5-second delays, 10-second delays, 15-second delays, etc. My first piece of equipment was my own helmet and goggles, and boy was I proud of them.

Later (much later), I was fitted for a custom-made jumpsuit. I lost custody of that when I (hurriedly) moved out of my ex's house, but I wasn't using it anymore anyway. I loved my jumpsuit. It was mostly blue, with red and yellow accents. (Love those primary colors.) I was embarrassed at having such ... intimate ... parts measured in relation to other parts, but it was a necessary evil if I wanted my own jumpsuit. The same day I was measured for it was the near-disaster that occurred when I couldn't find my ripcord. I was so upset after that occurred that the guy who had fitted me for the jumpsuit (Banks? that name just jumped into my head, and I have no idea whether it's the correct one or not) told me he would hold off on placing the order for a day or two. By the time I got home I had calmed down enough to know I didn't want to stop skydiving, at least not on such a sour note, so I told him to go ahead and place the order.

I wish I had a picture of that jumpsuit. I loved it so much. It was blousy (the style at that time) and had these cool handles for other people to grab during relative work in freefall (more on that later), and it was mine. The first time I wore it was my first-ever stand-up landing under a square canopy. I'm sure THAT'S no coincidence. I wasn't about to risk tearing a hole in the knee of my new jumpsuit. I was also somewhat near the landing zone. Go me!

All this time I was jumping borrowed (or, more accurately, rented) equipment from whatever drop zone I was using at the time. Finally a drop zone opened only about 20 minutes from my house, and I had the opportunity to buy a used rig from a guy who was selling it for his sister. I don't remember if she was giving up skydiving or upgrading her equipment, and I don't think I ever SAW the rig. But for $500 it could be mine, and it just so happened that my ex had won $500 playing the lottery that week and was in a benevolent mood. For once.

So I took the five Benjamins in my hot little hand and made my way to the drop zone, hoping the guy would be there. He was there, all right, and he said he would gladly hold the money until I could get the rest of it.

Do what?

Apparently I had misunderstood, and the total cost of the rig was $800. In those miserable days getting another $300 was something akin to getting water from a rock. But I told him to hold it and I vowed to get the rest even if I had to sell returnable soft drink bottles at the convenience store. Oh wait...we don't have that anymore.

To make a long story even longer, life intervened, and I stopped skydiving before I ever went back for the rig. Got a divorce, moved on, didn't look back. I'm sure the guy would have returned the money, because he seemed like a nice sort, but I never went back for it. Why? I don't know. Perhaps some inner childish spiteful person figured it was the ex's money and enjoyed the fact that it was wasted. But the reasonable person inside (she doesn't show up very often) knew I could have used that money, particularly in the post-divorce days. Oh well. Sometimes when someone mentions wasting money, I say, "Well somewhere I own five-eights of a parachute rig." They don't usually ask me to explain. They just hustle their children away rather quickly.

I didn't mean for this to become a post about equipment, but I'll stop there for tonight. In future posts I'll try to remember to write about my mother helping me pack my parachute, crying when I couldn't pack a rig that was a beeyotch to close, my thirteenth jump that went terribly wrong because I got hung up on the number thirteen, some of Sweet Girl's exploits and comments related to skydiving, the plane crash at a drop zone that was not an accident, having trouble finding east, and my (admittedly minor) injuries related to skydiving.

In the words of one jumpmaster, "The only serious injury is death."


DJan said...

Well, that answers my question as to whether or not you ever had your own gear. You did, sort of. Or at least most of it, even if you never got a chance to see it or jump it. it sure does sound like life intervened, and not in a positive way.

The girl said...

There are pictures of you in the jumpsuit, I don't know where they are, but I believe they are around somewhere.