Butterflies and Parachutes

So I am less than two days away from my first IAD (Instructor Assisted Deploy) and the butterflies are flying all around!

An Instructor Assisted Deploy (IAD) is a parachute deployment method most similar to static line.  Most people will ask if I am jumping static.  The main difference (according to Wikipedia) is that “instead of being deployed by a static line, the student’s jumpmaster (who is in the plane with them) deploys the student’s parachute by throwing the pilot chute downward and clear of the door as the student exits.  Among the benefits to IAD is the ability to use the same parachute equipment as the students will use when they progress to deploying their parachutes on their own, and the decreased chance of an inconvenience called “line twists”.”  To me, the IAD sounds much safer than a static deploy.    I like the idea of using the same equipment that I will utilize for my free fall.  So, for me, I see the IAD as kinda like the “training wheels” of skydiving.

To give you a better idea of what I am in for, check out these vids put together by Niagra Skydive:  IAD Jump and IAD Solo Jumps.

I have watched a lengthy video that detailed the equipment, what to expect, possible emergency scenarios, etc.  I now have some reading material that I will devour when I get home tonight.  And tomorrow (Friday) evening I will be meeting Rocky Martin, an instructor (and coworker) at WV Skydivers at the hanger and he will take me through: possible scenarios, what I need to remember (arch, Arch, ARCH!), quiz me on the video and prep me for what will be the best ride of my life (thus far).  Then on Saturday morning Sam Tomlin and I will hop on the Cessna and he will be going through his first IAD instruction with me (everyone is going to have a first on Saturday it sounds like).  John Garrido will be there to shoot some vid and pics to commemorate the event.  I would like to take a minute here to thank Ryan Ware.  Ryan is our pilot.  He is the person who gets us to our point of exit.  Imagine an amazing nightclub in the heart of NYC – hopping with thumping sounds and gyrating bodies – the air is electric.  Now imagine that same club with no soundsystem.  That would be us without him.  So – thanks Ryan!

This morning my conscious mind came front and center as my brain realized I was awake and staring at the ceiling.  The thought crossed my mind, “Why in the hell am I awake at this hour?!?”  That thought was followed by images from the instruction video, images from the tons of video I have poured over for our social media pages of insane jumps in amazing locations and (lastly) images came to mind from carnage videos (yeah, every sport has those videos that show the worse case scenario – and, of course, I have watched them almost as much as the “nice” videos).  I am scared and nervous and excited and full of trepidation right now.  And I friggin LOVE it!  That is why I am tapping out a couple of quick thoughts now.  I want to come back to this post, later in my skydiving career, and remember what it I felt like and what my thoughts were right before my first real jump.

Feels like:  When I was a kid I lived in a modular home (fancy name for a trailer really).  It had no chimney, no fireplace.  On Christmas Eve, when Santa still played a role in my life, I tried to understand how he would get my gifts to me as my home was void of his normal mode of entry.  So I was filled with anticipation, tempered with a little concern.  I was overwhelmingly excited at the thought of his arrival.  I had no idea what to really expect but I knew I was going to love it, no matter what it ended up being.  That same mix of emotions are what I am experiencing in these days leading up to my first solo.

Thoughts:  I cannot believe that a lifelong dream of mine is playing out for me.  I am fortunate to have met John, Rocky, Sam, Ryan and all of the cast at WV Skydivers.  They are quickly feeling more like family than coworkers or instructors.  They are the big brothers I never had (and who will drag me kicking and screaming through this new life).  I cannot thank the lot of them enough for this experience.  I wish my Ma was still alive.  She would bitch but she would love every second of it.  Every time I step on that plane I imagine I am as close to my Ma as I will ever get on this earthly plane (and she is trying desperately to reach across that plane and smack the ever-loving sense back into my head).

So on Saturday – if you are in Huntington, look to the skies.  It’s not a bird, it came from a plane – yeah, it’s me.

Ciao! (EFS)

And, as Bobby says, Blue Skies.

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