September 1997 High Altitude Jumps at Skydance Skydiving

HALO jumps went good. Many of them were doing there first 30K. Myself and three others have done it before. It was #8 for me, #10 for Miklos, and #6 for Shin. Miklos was going to do #11 (on the third 30K load) and Shin was going for #7. John Lewis was going to do two on Sunday, #11 and #12. We had our briefing from Tad Smith at 2:00 pm Friday and all of us did our rehearsal (everything except bailouts) from 14K. There was about 12 doing here for their first 30K. It was also really hot Friday. I was on the first load Sat morning with Miklos and Shin, we started prebreath at 6:30 am. John was going to do a Sat load but he had to work that day. It was nice and cold so we didn't sweat in the plane.

I had a disposable camera as I was wanting to get some exit shots. I practiced the body position on our rehearsal jump Friday but for the real 30K jump on Saturday the plane is doing 200 knots TAS (so I was told) and I tumbled crazy on exit (sky-earth-sky-earth-sky-earth-sky-earth) as I was trying to line up a "Norm Kent" photo scene of Shin following me out. I didn't get a good shot of that one. Our separation was quite a bit. Although I tumbled on exit, I still got a glimpse of how darker the sky was. I saw Shin and Miklos after exit and the plane in a dive (controlled that is), it was a kewl scene. Shin caught up with me and I got a couple of pictures. After that I went to try stuffing the camera back into one of my pants pockets (like I did last year) but had trouble doing it so I decided to hang on to it during opening. Thats why I used a disposable so if I had a mal, I could just let it go to deal with my cutaway and reserve.

I noticed that it was not as hazy as it sometimes gets. San Francisco bay area was all fogged in and the mountains trap all this in with it spilling out between the valleys. It was hard to see the Sierras as that was looking into the sun. Its real interesting to look down at such an angle on SFO, a little more than the airliners approaching the Bay Area for landing. But I was outside looking down! The Sierra mountains were difficult to see. I did take a couple of photos of the bay area, one of the Sierra mountains, and some straight down (none of the pictures came out).

I remember losing track of how many times the altimeter passed through zero. When you approach "0" take a look around, you may be at 12K or 24K. I'm sure that passing through 1K you will definitely see ground rush (something I have not and not care to ever see!) But I did take a look at the ground so I knew I was on the last (third) revolution and I dumped at 3.5K (ditter went off at 4K).

The only BAD THING that happened was I lost my other camera!!! Forgot to zip one of the pockets closed. Unfortunate as it was a good camera, and I also had lots of good photos of Tad's briefing, equipment, and group shots. I developed the film from the disposable and all the air-to-air photos were no good, just blurs.

I'm not sure if I'll use ski-goggles on the next jump. The ones I had was like looking thru a tunnel, I guess it seemed like a spacesuit with such a thick goggles, mask, and the clothing, even my neck was covered. With a temp of only -18 deg F (on Saturday it was -20 deg F), I wonder if its possible to jump naked. Now that would be a first: "30K Naked Jump #1." Of course the wind chill will be about the same temperature as liquid nitrogen (gee, maybe thats not a good idea to jump naked, leave that for lower altitudes).

[Garth sent me this on Sunday's jump]:

[my reply]

It is possible to build a 5 way but I don't know if you can do it by 27K. The idea is not to build a zillion points but to experience skydiving where the airliners fly. I would opt to get everyone in the same vicincity and enjoy the view.

Not getting to 30K? I wonder if the engines are not as powerful as before. Previous jumps had no problem getting to altitude. I do remember on Saturday that occasionally the plane would lisp a little or dip as it did a turn. The pilot would occasionally overshoot or undershoot FL300 by about 300 feet.

They can keep the bottle. Last year I had about 6 of them which I passed on to my whuffo friends. These were small plastic bottles that I capped just before exit and stuffed in my jumpsuit pocket. Back on the ground they were squished. I made labels for the bottles, "A Piece Of Sky. Notice: This bottle contains 30,000 feet. Do not open or you will let the vacuum out."

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The purpose is to provide information on skydiving from high altitudes. I am not an instructor and I am not claiming to be one. For those interested in learning to skydive or participating in a high altitude jump, you must obtain training from competent and rated instructors.

Michael Wright, D13106
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