Mark Atwood (fallenpegasus) wrote,
Mark Atwood

How to fall out of an airplane

This is the progression of a "Accelerated Freefall, Level 1" student jump. I haven't actually done it yet, due to clouds last Saturday, but I'm running it thru my head over and over again, for when I do.

  1. The door
    1. The left-side instructor will climb out, and will stand toward the tail side of the door.
    2. The right-side instructor will grab my right shoulder strap and right leg strap.
    3. I will step to the door.
    4. The left-side instructor will grab my left leg strap. (He is using his other hand to hold on to the outside of the airframe.)
    5. I will assume the exit position.
      1. my hands holding onto the inside and outside of the bulkhead
      2. crouch down, facing forward
      3. my head is OUTSIDE, in the airstream
      4. left foot straight forward, toe against the side of the door
      5. right foot immediately behind the left
  2. The exit
    1. At any time there is a simultaneous multiple exit for a formation dive, the person in the middle of the chain is the one in charge of the exit. Guess what? I'm the person in the middle.
    2. Look to right. Make eye contact with the right-side instructor.
    3. Look to left, over my shoulder. Make eye contact with the left-side instructor.
    4. Motion count
      1. One. Say "prop". Look forward, at the prop.
      2. Two. Say "down". Crouch lower.
      3. Three. Say "up". Crouch higher.
      4. Say "arch", and simultaneously step off and do the skydiver's arch.
    5. Just an instant ago the left-side instructor has grabbed my shoulder strap and stepped off. I will go out the door.
    6. My brain will shut down. As I get more experience, the "overload" effect will go away, and I will remain aware thru this stage.
  3. The fall
    1. We will exit the aircraft's airstream, and enter sky air.
    2. Form and hold that damn arch! This is the hardest bit for me to remember.
    3. There will be a few seconds of near zero g as we come up to terminal velocity, about 120 mph.
    4. Immediately look at my altimeter, strapped to my left wrist. DO NOT pull my hand in front of my face to look at it, that will cause a roll. Instead, turn the top of my left hand toward my face and turn my head to the left.
    5. Read the altitude.
    6. Yell the number to the left-side instructor. He can't hear me, but he can see me say it.
    7. Obey his handsignals, don't fight his positioning my body, wait for his thumbs up. He might be making handsignals in my face even before I remember
    8. Turn my head to the right, yell the number to the right side instructor. Ditto the hand signals, body positioning, and thumbs up.
    9. Every five seconds, read the altitude again.
    10. Enjoy the ride down.
  4. The practice pulls
    1. Reach my right hand around and behind, with a big open hand.
    2. Place my hand ON the ripcord handle.
    3. Simultaneously, move my left hand so it is forward of the top of my head. If I do not, I will roll.
    4. Pretend to pull out the cord, but do not actually do it.
    5. Turn my head up and to the right, to break my airbubble and look for canopy. (There will be no canopy on the practice pulls, of course).
    6. Return to the arch.
    7. Do this two more times, three times in total.
  5. The pull
    1. At 6000 feet, "lock on" to the altimeter. Don't look away from it.
    2. At 5500 feet, perform the "wave off" handsignal. The instructors will let go, turn, and fly away.
    3. Again, do a "practice" ripcord pull, but this time, close my hand around the cord, and pull it out.
    4. The cord pulls all the way out. DO NOT LET GO OF THE CORD. If I drop it, the DZ will charge me twenty bucks to replace it.
    5. Don't forget to turn my head and shoulders. Breaking my airbubble is an important part of releasing and inflating the canopy.
  6. The canopy
    1. An instant later, the harness will (should) grab me and jerk me upright and to a relative stop. Again, my brain will shut down for an instant.
    2. Look up for the canopy, make sure it's good. If it's not, see "Canopy Emergencies".
    3. Stuff the ripcord down the front of my dropsuit.
    4. Reach up with both hands and grab the toggle handles.
    5. Pull them all the way down, as far as my arms will go. Then let them all the way back up again. This releases the brakes, and completes the process of transforming it into a wing.
    6. DO NOT let go of the toggles until I am on the ground.
    7. Turn left. Pull the left toggle all the way down. Turn a full circle. Let the toggle back up.
    8. Turn right. Pull the right toggle all the way down. Turn a full circle. Let the toggle back up.
    9. The canopy is now good. I am now technically a pilot-in-charge of a ram-air canopy glider.
  7. The glide
    1. Look down, try to figure out where I am.
    2. Listen to the radio strapped to my chest.
    3. Obey all the turn instructions from Ground Control. She knows how to get me home and turned into the wind, I don't.
    4. Enjoy the view.
  8. The landing
    1. DO NOT attempt any turns while close to the ground.
    2. Watch the ground coming up, listen to the radio.
    3. When she says "Flare!", pull all the way down on both toggles while lifting my legs. DO NOT ever let them back up again.
    4. If the ground right there but I have not yet heard a flare order, do it anyway.
    5. If all is at a perfect dead stop, put my legs down on the ground, exactly like standing up from a barstool.
    6. OR, if I'm still moving forward slowly enough, put my legs down and run it in. "Slowly enough" means walking speed or less.
    7. OR, if I'm moving too fast, do a "parachute landing fall". This is harder to describe than to do.
      1. Close my legs, holding my ankles and knees together. DO NOT let them separate.
      2. Bend my knees and raise my legs slightly. Straight joints break, bent ones flex.
      3. Turn my legs to the side. (It will be instantly and intuitively apparent which side to use.)
      4. Let the ground hit the side of my foot and ankle. I'm glad I'm wearing my boots.
      5. Let the ground hit the sides of my calves and knees.
      6. Let the ground hit the sides of my thigh.
      7. Roll out on just behind my hip and then up the side of my back.
    8. Wait for Ground Control to come help me roll up my deflating canopy.
    9. Walk back to the building.
  9. Emergencies
    • If we roll or tumble, do not panic. Enjoy the ride. The instructors will not let go. They will stabilize us, do not fight them.
    • If I disconnect from a single instructor (probably on the exit), do not panic. I have a spare. Complete the jump normally.
    • If I disconnect from BOTH instructors, signal "wave off" (even if I cannot see them around me, they might be over me), then pull the ripcord.
    • If anyone ever, at any time, gives me the "pull now" handsignal, IMMEDIATELY pull the ripcord. Do not take the time to issue the "wave off" handsignal.
    • If the ripcord will not come out, pull it again. If the ripcord does not come out after two pulls, deploy the reserve.
    • If I see no canopy, wait half a second, making sure to break my airbubble. It might just be a slow release. If there is still no canopy, deploy the reserve.
    • If there is a baglock, I will know almost instantly, because a baglock causes my body will swing down to the feet down position, and I will accelerate another 60mph, to 180mph. There will be a small jerk, and then an instant of zero g, and then the wind will REALLY scream. It feels like jumping out AGAIN. Immediately deploy the reserve.
    • If the riser is stuck high, pull the toggles down HARD. Check again. If it is still stuck, try one more time. If the riser does not unstick and drop after two toggle pulls, deploy the reserve.
    • If there is a cordover, pull the toggles down HARD. Check again. If there is still a cordover, try one more time. If the cords do not clear after two toggle pulls, deploy the reserve.
    • If there is a line twist (this is not uncommon in regular deployments, and is more common than not in static line deployments), reach up, put my hands between the cords, and push them open. Then choose the correct leg, and cross it over the front and down the side of the other. This will spin me in the direction the bent leg is pointed, and will untwist the lines.
  10. Deploying the reserve
    1. Decide to use it. See "Emergencies".
    2. If my hands are in the main canopy toggles, LET GO OF THEM.
    3. The reserve handle is attached to the left chest strap, right below my left breast, flush against my body. LOOK AT THE HANDLE. People have died pulling on the chest strap instead of the handle.
    4. Insert both thumbs into the handle.
    5. Push/pull it DOWN the length of my body (not up or forward), as far as my arms will extend.
    6. Release my left thumb from the handle.
    7. Maintaining a continuous motion, keep pulling the handle to the right across my body until my right arm is full extended to my side.
    8. As I perform this motion, the main canopy emergency releases will open, and the main canopy will disconnect and fall away, then the reserve will deploy and open.
    9. The reserve is optimized for hard, instant, guaranteed opening. It will be a painful experience for me, but much better than the alternative.
    10. Grab the reserve toggles, and fly the reserve exactly like the main. It will probably be smaller and less steerable, so I will land a bit harder and faster.

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