Posted by: Walker Mackey | 2010/09/28

Accelerated Free Fall

Skydiving, Lodi, CA


I had always said that someday I would go skydiving, but it wasn’t until I met Lori Butz that I honestly considered jumping out of an airplane. One year ago I did my first tandem jump at The Parachute Center in Lodi. At that time I had set my goals toward The Central Tower of Paine, but promised myself that I would return to learn the art of flying. Lori suggested that I learn from world-class wing suitor Ed Pawlowski. I meet Ed on the morning of the 8th for my Accelerated Free Fall certification. The first two jumps were working tandem jumps, in which we performed a series of left and right turns, practice touches, and tracking maneuvers. After the tandem course came the moment of truth, my first solo jump. I can remember reaching 13,000ft and watching the tandem jumpers fall out of the plane in front of me. My hands were sweating profusely. When I reached the door I realized that as griped as I was about jumping out alone, I didn’t have it as bad as Ed, who was about to go out while holding on to someone who was doing their first solo. Jumping is all about relaxation and keeping your calm in order to perform simple uniform tasks which will bring you safely to the ground. After my first solo I realized that I could, with confidence, exit an airplane get stable in free fall, perform maneuvers during free fall, while being completely altitude aware. On my last jump I learned to pack a rig, and took it up for a weekend finisher. I jumped out entering the relative wind with my body facing upright. As I entered the free fall I located the drop zone and positioned my body to face north-west. From there I dropped into a track and ripping through the air. I flew for 6,000ft making slight adjustments to tilt my body and turned back to the east as I flew into the play area just to the east side of the drop zone. At 5,000 ft I flattened out my body and threw one hand out in front of me, reached back, and tossed the pilot shute out waiting for the pin to pull and the bag to release from the container. Blow! The Parachute stood me up right and I looked up to observe the opening. I could see the Parachute flapping and watched as the slider dropped down on top of my head. I was under canopy on a pack job I had done myself. “Fuck Ya!” I screamed. “That was amazing.” I came in for an excellent stand up landing feeling the updrafts of the air just above the ground at the drop zone landing site, which pushed me to the back of the grass landing zone. There is nothing that compares to the feeling of falling through the air with a directional flight pattern. In rock climbing you are constantly fighting gravity, but in skydiving you use it to your advantage, adjusting your body to create lift. The molecules in the atmosphere flow around your body in a pattern, enabling directional movement through them. For me it is a new space in this world for exploration that I didn’t realize, until now, is in its self solid. With skydiving I have found a opportunity to perform an act of freedom, in which you can let go and find yourself, defying what is considered personally impossible and flying.

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