Wow did this ever get away from me! We’ve been done para phase for a month now! Sorry for the delay.
Para phase was amazing! April 2nd we hopped into a plane and headed to Arizona, home of one of the best drop zones in the world. (Drop zone being the term for a place people skydive at). We spent a month here in really nice accommodations. For the first time on course we cooked for ourselves, what a nice treat.
Week 1 consisted of static line jumping from higher then normal altitudes. Static line means your parachute is attached to the plane in a manner that it will open immediately upon exiting the aircraft. Most the guys had never jumped before so how do we learn? We jump out at 5000 feet and hope for the best. Of course we did some in class theory on how to fly a canopy, but that’s pretty much it. The plan was for everyone to have a radio and the staff would guide us down. The radios failed and the 49ers landed all over creation spread across the desert.
After a week of this, and 20 or so jumps it was time to learn free fall (a.k.a skydiving). We all got an incredibly entertaining 6min each in the wind tunnel to get familiar with free fall. I’ve been jumping on my own for a few years so this was very fun to watch guys do it for the first time.
The 2nd week was all free fall. Everyone was assigned a coach who would jump with them for that day (it changed daily). And we did jump after jump all week. It was awesome! Some great stories/video of people tumbling through the air until everyone learned how to be stable. I was fortunate enough to finish my “B Cop” license while I was jumping, basically means I can jump anywhere in the world and I can work towards endorsements and coaching etc. I was pretty pumped.
Week 3 was half free fall and half static line. This is where the work jumps began. As SAR Techs, we don’t operationally skydive, so our meat and potatoes is static line equipment jumps in terrible weather. So we did it (minus the terrible weather). By the end of the week we were jumping from 1500 to 2500 feet with 50 pound kit attached to our front. These are real jumps, the heavy equipment makes the flying characteristics of the canopy different and jumping from so low leaves little room for error.
My kit bag and gear…
Week 4 continued in Arizona with more equipment jumps and the instructors continued to make the jumps progressively more challenging. At the end of the week we got an opportunity of a life time to jump out of a super old war DC3 aircraft. This was the last hoorah for Arizona. It just so happened to be my 100th jump, and probably the best jump ever. I did a 3 way jump with a course mate and my boss, it was insane! And of course I got a pie In the face when I got safely to the ground…
Before we knew it, we were back in Comox and started confined area parachuting. Now things got incredibly interesting. Jumping into smaller and smaller drop zones with bigger and bigger trees surrounding them. Sar Techs jump into the forest, the ocean, mountains, glaciers, you name it… and we train like we fight. 2 weeks of jumping into soccer field size drop zones surrounded by sometimes 200 foot trees. Crazy!
We also did an intentional water jump into Comox Lake. This was the most uncomfortable I have ever been. Drysuit on, personal floatation, parachute, tree let down device, and a 50 pound kit bag, oh plus fins… it was a unique experience to say the least.
Before water jump
After the 2 weeks of confined were done we headed off to Jasper Alberta for mountain phase. But not the end of jumping! Final ops (which is after mountains) consisted of even more challenging parachute situations.
Confined area “crusty”
Again sorry for the late post, and a long one at that. Thanks for reading…