My First Two Attempts at Accelerated Freefall Level 3
This continues a series on my husband's skydiving and parachuting experiences. He failed the AFF 3 three times and passed on the fourth try. This Accelerated Freefall Level 3 jump is meant to be done as follows: ready, up, down, arch; circle of awareness, one practice touch, two toe-taps, another circle of awareness, and then maintain the heading, lock on altimeter at 6,000’, and wave off and pull at 5,500’. However, a number of things did not go as planned, which will be detailed below, as told to me by my husband:
On the First of August, I went to the skydive center in Long Island for the level 3 test/training jump, and was paired up with Eric, a senior skydive instructor. I was previously paired up with him on my 2 tandem training jumps. He asked me to put on an extra large skydive suit, in the hope that it would help me to fall slower, since previously I was falling too fast. We checked the rigs, did some practice exits on the mockup of the plane door, and reviewed the entire jump.
Skydiving Photo credit: Betchaboy on Flickr Source
Accelerated Freefall Skydiving
I put on my rig and went on the plane. Once again, we jumped over an area that I had never jumped before. Because it was a cloudy day, we jumped in a place with less clouds.
We jumped out at 13,500 feet. The exit wasn’t so great- I didn’t jump out, I stepped out. I turning while exiting, did my circle of awareness, practice touch, and toe taps. He kept on giving me signals for legs: my legs were too far in, they were not out enough.
Every time he let go, I started turning, which wasn’t supposed to happen- one of the main points in this jump is to show that the person knows how to maintain heading during the skydive.
Eventually, I did some more toe taps. The problem was that my legs were too much inward, and not extending far out enough, and that was causing me to turn.
At 6,000 I locked on, at 5,500 I pulled. The canopy flight, landing, and everything else was fine.
Skydiving photo (Credit: Betchaboy on Flickr) Source
Failed and Tried Again
I got the logbook, sat down, and we reviewed the jump. One of the points discussed was that the exit wasn’t good. We also discussed that my legs were not out enough, and that’s why I wasn’t able to maintain heading. He signed the logbook, he wrote down details about the jump in the logbook, and he did NOT pass me. He asked me if i’m going to jump again, and I said ok.
Prior to the next skydive, I practiced on the floor with my legs out. We again practiced the exit and checked the rig. He told me that I shouldn't worry about the toe-taps, and I should just do a circle of awareness, and then maintain heading (by keeping a perfect body position), check the altimeter, and make sure my legs are out.
It was getting close to the flight, and the person packing it ran over to talk to the videographer and didn’t finish packing my rig. So Eric, my instructor, finished packing it.
Skydiving Photo (Credit: Betchaboy on Flickr) Source
Accelerated Freefall Level 3 Parachuting
We put on the parachute and went onto the plane. This time, my exit was perfect. I tried to stick to his advice, to make sure that my legs are out.
My legs were out, and most of the time they were good.
He let go a few times, but the longest that I had a stable heading was about five seconds. At one point, he let go, went in front of me, and gave me the thumbs up signal. That was the point, for a period of 4 to 5 seconds, that I was maintaining a good heading, but then I started turning again, so he grabbed on again.
I maintained altitude awareness throughout the jump, I waved off and pulled at 5,500 and I ended up locking on at 6,000. It was a perfect landing. I landed a little bit too far down from where I should have landed, but the landing was executed well.
Parachuting photo (Credit: Betchaboy on Flickr) Source
Skydiving Lessons Learned
We sat down, went over the jump, and he filled out the log book. He said that when he went in front of me, and I was flying, and everything seemed ok, he looked at me and it looked like I was angry, with smoke coming out of my ears. (I think I was just feeling serious about getting it right.)
He said that my head position wasn’t arched enough. I was facing the ground, but should have been facing the horizon. My neck and shoulders were not arched enough- that’s why I started turning. My legs were ok, but my upper body wasn’t good.
He kept on shaking his head, and he didn’t pass me, because on level 3, you need to maintain heading. This is important, because on Level 4 you need to be able to do turns, turn from heading and turn back to heading. If you can’t maintain a heading, then there’s no place to start with the turns.
You need to pick a heading and you try to remain in that direction, not to spin. The problem is that both times when I pulled, he was holding onto me.
Obviously, when you have your license and jump on your own, no one is holding onto you, so you need to be able to pull on your own.
Photo of skydiver is NOT me- it's taken from Betchaboy on Flickr: Source
Pull, Stable, Altitude
With pulling, there are three priorities: One is to PULL, the second is to pull STABLE, and the third priority is to pull at the right ALTITUDE.
- Pull: Obviously, the most important priority is to pull. If you don't pull the parachute, you can imagine what would happen!
- Pull Stable: When you pull the parachute you want to be level, maintaining a heading, not spinning or turning- because if you spin too fast when the parachute opens, the lines can twist, and then you don’t have a good parachute- at which point, you need to try to untwist the lines. Sometimes it’s too twisted, or you don’t have enough time. In those cases, you can’t always untwist the lines, and then you have to cut away and pull the reserve. That’s not a good situation to be in.
Therefore it’s critical to maintain a heading, especially at the altitude of pull time. You can do whatever you want before pull time, but at pull time, it’s essential to maintain a heading, be stable, so that you have a good canopy opening.
- The third priority is “pull altitude”- you want to pull at a high enough altitude so that if there’s a problem, you have enough time to cut away and pull the reserve.
Students at level 3, need to pull at 5,500. Experienced skydivers might pull at 4,000 feet or even 3,000 feet above the ground.
I failed both jumps, and at that point, I didn’t have any more money on me to do a third jump.
Even if I had, it wouldn't have mattered, since they stopped jumping for the day. It was late in the day, the weather was getting worse.
I’m planning on going back either tomorrow or next week, when I have the money to pay for more jumps.
Parachuting photo Credit: Betchaboy on Flickr: Source
A Student Parachuter's Reflections
Now I know to be more relaxed. He basically said that I was too tense, and my opening wasn’t perfect. When I was opening, I moved my left hand in front of me, which I shouldn’t have done. I also twisted my spine a little bit, and all of those things caused me to turn, which is not good.
I need to be more stable when I open it up. My hands should be above my head, not in front of my head, I shouldn’t twist my thigh, and I should just pull and throw.
I am going to try to remember everything that he taught me, and hopefully, my next level 3 is going to be a stable, good jump.
If not, I will keep on doing it, until I get it right.
Skydiving Photo (Credit: Betchaboy on Flickr) Source
This was probably my 9th or 11th jump overall:
- 2: At this place I did two tandem jumps.
- 2: I did AFF level 1 twice, failed the first time and passed the second time.
- 1: I did AFF level 2 once and passed.
- 2: Above, I did AFF level 3 twice so far and failed both times.
- 2-4: I did 7 jumps at this place, and ten years ago I did 2 or 4 jumps.
That makes a total of 9 or 11 jumps as of 8/1/12.
After this, I did two more level 3 jumps and a level 4 jump.
I then went to a wind tunnel for indoor skydiving, and will soon be going on to level 5.
More details to come soon!
Rainbow parachute Photo Credited to Betchaboy on Flickr Source
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As you can see, as of 8/1/12, I did 7 skydiving jumps at this place, and I also parachuted at the previous place. After this, I then did another two AFF 3 Jumps, the AFF 4 jump, and also INDOOOR SKYDIVING IN A WIND TUNNEL. I will be publishing articles on those adventures soon. Come back to my articles for updates!