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    March 30th, 2007 by steve

    We landed in Swakopmund, Namibia for a few days of crazy outdoor sports. Swakopmund is really a study in opposites. One side of town is desert wasteland (except for the uranium mine), the other is the Atlantic Ocean. Aside from the crazy tourists running through town, it seems to be mainly a South African retirement community.

    We decided very quickly that we’d learn to skydive by taking a one day course on “how to pull the chute”. The course culminates in a solo jump at 3500 feet (4500 for Mary) on what’s called a static line. That means that there’s a rope from the plane to your ripcord so your chute is automatically deployed for you after you jump. After a few dives of demonstrating good body position jumping out of the plane and dealing with panic, they let you pull the cord yourself. We didn’t have enough time for that, though.

    After hours of chanting “arch thousand…look thousand…handles thousand…right thousand…left thousand…arch thousand” to make sure we could deploy our safety chute in an emergency, we were ready to go. We stuffed ourselves into a tiny plane with a big hole in the side and cruised up to altitude. Just to keep it interesting, our jumpmaster decided to skip all the protocol we had learned and just yelled “GO!” to me as I was crouched in the doorframe. And out I went.

    All was going well until I looked up after my 5 seconds to find that there wasn’t much of a parachute above me. I had one of the common problems known as “twisted lines” which meant that I was falling really fast without a deployed chute … but that’s ok! With a few yanks and twists of the lines over my head, the chute opened fully and I started floating peacefully… and my heart started again. Then I opened my eyes :)

    Below me was an incredible view from the Atlantic out through the sand dune fields and off into the desert. After taking it all in, it was time to try out the flight controls and play with the chute. You get a cord on your left and right hands that let you turn the chute or flare to slow down briefly. It’s so much fun I almost couldn’t stand it. After a few minutes of gliding down, it came time to land. It’s only been two days since I sprained my ankle, so I landed one legged. Well, and on my butt.

    Mary had a similar problem with her chute, but jumped from 1000 feet higher than me so had a lot more time to play around on her way down. She came in with a picture perfect landing.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

    2 Responses

    1. Dad Says:

      now this sounds like fun, oh to be young again

    2. Jow Says:

      I thought Mary was a pro at this? And why was her’s bigger than yours?

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