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The Final Check
Static line - Check. 3 Ring System - Check. Harness Loops - Check. AAD(Automated Activation Device) - Check. Yes, you are good to go. Yes, you are good to go. Climb out!

Up in the Air-1

A few moments later
Winds pounding your body, suspended mid air from the wing of a 4 seater trainee Cessna hovering at about 4000 ft above ground level.
The only thought which ought to cross your mind is to wait for the jump master's signal instead the only one which did was - 'Oh My God! Why the hell am I here?'. Literally on A Wing and a Prayer. There wasn't much I could have done then and it was too late to whine so I... let go.

A few more moments later
Regained full consciousness. Looked up to see a peculiarly big red thing above. Wondered what it was.


"It is a parachute and now would you please follow the instructions?" Probably those were the most heart rendering words ever to befall my ears, I almost did cry finding myself alive.

"Pull those toggles and turn left, so that I can know you are alive" said the same voice again. I did the same. Checking my altimeter, trying to remember everything I could from the ground training sessions. 3000 feet still to go, Phew!

Up in the Air-2

The Landing
It is easy maneuvering a parachute, hanging on a Cessna wing is, however, a different ball game. A few turns and appreciation of the bird's eye view  you were to prepare for landing. All you have to do is to avoid the buildings, the hanger, the fencing, the runway, and pretty much just about everything.

I was supposed to land on the soft ground besides the tarmac, which was easy with the radio contact but the fact remained that it wasn't really 'soft' and was infested with dry, wild bushes. Hurling forward at 20 kph, you should know when to flare (apply brakes).

 

It is to be done when you are about 1-2 times your own height from the ground -theory. By the time you are able to gauge the correct height your body would be rubbing the ground - Practical. (Assuming you've avoided the tarmac!)


A bit early 'flaring' would rather stall your chute mid air and you'd be lucky to not break any bones post a thud from 10 m above. Thanks to my radio instructor, mine was perfect.

The Ground Training
1000, 2000, ...5000, ...Looking Up...7000 (:-/), 8000... OMG! Emergency!

Hold, Cut Away, Look, Pull.

 

Ideally the primary parachute should deploy within 5 seconds, in case it doesn't one has to perform emergency landing procedure. This secondary chute deploys in 1.2 seconds.(Wow!) Well there is isn't much time when falling at 100 ft per sec, is there? (Nervous Laughs)
"Almost never would you require this, but just in case you do remember this. I had to use it in my first solo free fall. Hopefully you don't."(Smiles vanish)
The safety instruction in any adventure sports are the most important. As they say in Skydiving "You don't need a parachute to jump, you only need it to jump again". We did our best in memorizing them.

A few more jumps
That was my first jump of my 3 day/5 Static line jumps course at Dhana Airbase, Sagar, Madhya Pradesh. The next four were without radio contact, a couple of crash landings and a couple of good ones. A few bruises and a once-in-a-lifetime of an experience to talk about. A fair deal, I'd say. Most of my friends consider it unsafe in India, for others it's just not their piece of cake. My Dad considers me a rebel cynic paying no heed to his instructions to not take part in any such 'frivolous activity' and has given up on me; My Mother... well, she just prays for my safety. All I know I am safe enough to tell this tale. Amen.

Up in the Air-3
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