I started jumping in 1999 @ Skydive Walterboro in SC, where I work now as a Tandem Instuctor and Videographer (back to home DZ after 10 yrs.).
I started Static-line and had to do 7 static-line jumps before I could do my first freefall. When I finally got to do my first freefall, we went to 4,500ft AGL and I was supposed to do a 5 sec delay, then pull the ripcord. My jumpmaster jumped with me, but as I left the plane I started a left spin. My jumpmaster had no AAD and I was spinning so fast that he couldn’t get in and stop the spin for fear of being knocked unconscious. In my mind I was thinking “I have to get stable” and not thinking….. PULL. And I never did. I never pulled the ripcord and I had about a 26 sec. freefall from 4500 ft. Do the math!
Wow! (Thank God for Cypress) my AAD fired around 1000 ft AGL and my jumpmaster and the people (including my wife at the time) on the ground watching for my 5 sec pull were freaking! People on the ground couldn’t see my reserve opening because I was about a mile off course and below the tree line. It actually says in my logbook “Jumpmaster deployed at 1100 feet…… student was still spinning”. Everyone thought that I and the jumpmaster went in.
As it turned out, my reserve opened with extreme-multiple line twists from the spin and as I was kicking out of the twists, I was headed for the tree line. I knew I was going in the trees but I couldn’t steer clear because of the line twist, so as I came into the top of a 70ft pine tree I wrapped my arms around the trunk…which was small at the top and I held on.
The canopy rested in the tree and I unhooked my harness and shimmed down to the ground. Police, ambulance, rescue and fire Trucks arrived a few minutes later and wanted to know where the body was of the person whose chute never opened. People in the houses across the street from the woods had called 911 and reported two people whose chutes never opened. I had to do my practice ripcord pulls over, which meant about four more static-line jumps before another freefall, but I made it and I’ve been in the sport for ten years. I’m now a Tandem Instructor and I have over 1,100 jumps. I had to swallow my pride to go back the next weekend and tell them I was ready to continue my training and for a long-time I was called “Dead-Man-Walking”, but the joy I get from this sport is well worth the pride I swallowed to continue jumping.
May God Bless your mag as he has blessed me with this sport and please send me a copy of the first print of….. Blue Skies Magazine!
Take care and blue skies to you…..
Dale L. Carter D-24357
Have a similar story to Dale’s? What kind of advice would you give a new student who just did the same thing? Share your reactions in the comments below.