Last weekend I finally managed to do something I yearned to do since I’ve been in elementary school. I finally took the time and the courage to try to jump with a parachute. I have been thinking about this on a regular basis for the past 5 or so years, but I always told myself that it’s not the right time: I cannot afford this right now; I need to be around my gf and cannot go there; I should study instead of going parachuting; etc…
Since she left me, I thought I cannot postpone this dream of mine anymore. There will always be stuff that needs to be done but waiting to try to fulfil your dreams until you have nothing else to worry about, you might as well die before get the opportunity to pursue those dreams. Also, I really needed a distraction from thinking about that bitch…
So, I looked around and found a place where a course to get a parachuting license (when you can finally jump on your own) costs only about half or even a third of what I would have to spend anywhere else. The airfield is in the middle of fucking nowhere and I need to travel for 4 hours until I reach it, but for me traveling is free, and as a poor student I’d rather spend time than money.
My journey started at 5 in the morning last Saturday. After switching transportation 3 times and walking for 3 miles uphill, I finally managed to reach the airfield 4 hours later. I was 30 minutes late and the theoretical course had already started. The instructor was not too pleased about it, but was fine with me joining in. As I already mentioned in my previous blog, my weight (~100kg) was above the set limit of 95 kg and I was worried that I might not be allowed to jump, but I guess, despite me being overweight and a heavy smoker with a rather mediocre physical condition my appearance managed to fool the guy and he said right away that I’m clear for a jump (note: most people tend to estimate me about 10 kg less than I actually am and due to being rather tall and genetically blessed with broad shoulders people tend to believe that I’m an athletic person). Even more so than my weight I was worried about my general physical condition. Both my wrists were still hurting and I could not really rely upon my right hand due to my injury (see last blog), I also noticed that I had bruised my lower back and had some small pains there sometimes. Additionally, I was worried that my allergies might kick in while being in the nature (where the airfield was). As far as my first problem was concerned, I figured: When I’m on a collision course with the ground it is enough motivation to pull whatever levers and strings needed even if my wrists were completely broken. Luckily, my allergies did not bother me while being there either.
To make a short story short: the course was a piece of cake, the practical exercise were easy and even if you did not do well there, you were still allowed to jump as long as you passed the theoretical “exam”… The exam itself was a joke, which nobody ever has managed to fail…
The course itself took 2 days (Sat and Sun) and I needed to sleep there since going home for the night would have meant additional 8 hours of travelling for the weekend. Being a rather shy person I did not manage to communicate much with the club members there. Luckily, there were almost a dozen of Russian guys around my age there who wanted to try parachuting, too. Their German was shitty and most of them were construction workers who… let’s say… did not have the same interests… or vocabulary as me. However, there were some really nice and decent, although simple, guys. They treated me with some beer and some junk food and we had a great night drinking and doing stupid shit together.
Sunday was the big day. All the amateurs who were there for the first time were about to have their first jump. The first jump was only from a height of 1300m with an automatic parachute discharge (basically your parachute is tied to the plane and opens instantly after you jump). We were six guys jumping for the first time:
- 3 Russian guys.
- 1 young German engineer
- 1 40+ yo German guy
We were told exactly how to jump from the plane and how to land. Additionally, we all had a walkie talkie placed on our chests, so we could receive instructions from the guys looking from the ground.
When I was in the air and the instructor opened the latch I could not wait to get out and he actually had to stop me for a moment until he checked if we were at the drop-off location. For the whole flight, I had a huge grin on my face and I could not wait to jump. However, the moment when I had to get out, my feelings changed. Trying to get on the tiny platform above the plane’s wheel and holding onto the plane’s wing while the plane itself is flying at 100 mph and the wind is pushing against you was a challenge. When I was standing there, I looked at the instructor, he gave me the ok sign and I took a step to the right into the air…
The next 2 seconds are a blur. When I realized what was happening, the parachute was already opened. I checked for any faults, did not see any and started enjoying the flight. Flying itself is a really chill experience. You can enjoy the view and the fact that you are hanging somewhere far above the ground. On the way down I was getting instructions what to do and I managed to reach the 300m height at the exactly correct spot I was supposed to. Now the landing preparations started. Go parallel to the airfield until you reach 150m. Do a 180° and prepare for landing. At that point I was supposed to get instructions on how to land from the instructors on the ground. Well… I guess I did… unfortunately I could not understand a single thing… So I figured I will do what we were taught beforehand: Legs together, knees slightly bent, pull the parachute strings halfway down, pull them completely down right before impact, do a roll upon touchdown.
Well, I did all of this without the last part. When you are just a bit above the ground you notice that you are actually going with a really high speed. At that point I stopped thinking and was simply afraid to touch the ground with my feet. So I simply pulled my legs up and landed on my ass… That’s a really shitty thing to do, since the impact might cause you to break your spine… Luckily (or skillfully), I seem to have pulled the strings at the exactly right moment, so I completely stopped my vertical speed and I simply slid upon the ground until I reached a full stop. The last few days, I used to feel some pain in my lower back, but I did not feel anything when landing. That’s how smooth it was…
In retrospect, my jump was bad and my landing was nowhere close to being good, but in comparison to the other amateurs I think I did rather well:
- Russian A: faulty jump -> twisted parachute strings;
- Russian B: faulty jump -> twisted parachute strings; landed way off target into a nearby field;
- Russian C: landed way off target into a nearby field;
- German engineer: faulty jump -> twisted parachute strings; slightly hurt his left foot upon touchdown
- German guy: broke his shoulder upon touchdown
Overall, it was a great experience and I really want to get a parachuting license. Hopefully, in 3 weeks the weather will be fine, so I can continue my course.
The parachuting weekend was a really great change of pace and scenery. Other than that, I’m doing rather well. I still enjoy going to my new job. I can feel that it brings some highly necessary structure in my life. I’m also still going jogging regularly. My diet has been really good for nearly two months now and last Friday I clocked a new 5-year weight record at 99.9kg.
On the negative side, there are still a bunch of things that I could list, but all of them seem to be getting better. The only thing that still really bothers me is that I dreamt about my ex 3 days in a row last week. On top of that, today I was dreaming about a party where I went. My ex was there and I was ignoring her. Then I saw that her new boyfriend was there… It was just like, whenever, I dream about falling off a tall building and I suddenly wake up, with the only difference that instead of the feeling of thrill I woke up with a feeling of anxiety and an upset stomach covered in sweat…
Fuck that shit, I cannot wait until it gets better…