Well the rain cleared late in the afternoon on Sunday allowing Reed and Lilani the opportunity to proceed along their path to a USPA A-license, the Category A skydive. This was the first jump either of them had made "solo", meaning they both jumped with two instructors holding on to them but they were wearing their own parachute and flew it to the ground. Both did exceptionally well and are looking forward to their next jumps later this week.
Below you can see Reed and Lilani completing several learning objectives required as part of a Category A skydive. First, they both were required to rehearse and practice the EPs, or emergency procedures, and be able to recognize a parachute malfunction when it occurs. As part of this practice they both learn not only how to spot a malfunction but also how to deal with it. As an AFF student, they are going to practice these procedures many, many, many times until they can perform them without hesitation, quickly and smoothly. We'll bet they'll both tell you that they are tired of looking at the cue cards and repeating, "look right, grab right...look left, grab left...peel-pull right, peel-pul left". We can't stress enough that malfunctions are rare! The equipment is rigorously maintained and packed by professionals but in the event one does occur it is best to be prepared so we practice, practice, practice.
Once Kyle and Jeff felt that they had successfully recognized and rehearsed the malfunctions and EPs, it was time to learn to exit the aircraft. It may seem easy to exit an airplane, you just open the door and jump, right? Wrong! When exiting in linked groups it is very important to: 1, leave the plane together; 2, leave the plane smoothly; 3, fly your body stably. 2 and 3 are easy for veteran skydivers but 1, 2, and 3 together is difficult even for veterans unless we practice...alot. So imagine what a challenge this poses to two budding skydivers who have never jumped from a plane with their own equipment before! Like anything else in skydiving even exits are performed better when you are focused and relaxed; based on Reed's face he was focused and Lilani's showed us she was relaxed and ready.
After all the practice it was time to dig-up some knowledge from the first-jump course...equipment! You can see that Reed had to personally check his equipment pre-jump under an instructor's supervision to ensure it was ready to be donned and jumped. Some of the things they checked were: the reserve parachute data card, which tells the jumper if the reserve parachute has been inspected and packed by the rigger in the last 180 days; the ADD, or automatic activation device, which will automatically deploy that reserve parachute in the event that the jumper cannot; and the general condition of the harness and container system. If anything is found to be lacking or questionable the parachute system is grounded until the rigger gives it the O.K. Remember when we said earlier that malfunctions are rare? Well, checks like the ones above are the reason.
When everything is good-to-go, all the equipment is donned and we pose for a group shot before boarding the plane! On his first jump Reed is accompanied by Jeff and Kyle, his AFF instructors, and Travis, his first-jump course instructor. All smiles and ready to start the adventure of a lifetime!
Next stop for #slwaff is 11,000 ft....