|Me being a skydiver|
I ran into my friend John in the breakfast room on Friday and decided to go to the Drop Zone (DZ) with him and his roommate, Gary, instead of driving my rental car. It gets really crowded and I was anxious to take as few chances as possible that it would not be damaged in the parking lot. He has a big SUV, so it was perfect. We hung out all day on Friday, and yesterday, Saturday, we did the same, as we needed to be at the Skills Camp well before 8:00am. There are more than sixty people signed up for the camp, and we gathered and learned what groups we would be assigned to for the first day.
There are only a few women among all these men, and I was the only woman in my group of 15, other than the organizer, Carol Jones. She is not actually old enough yet to be in SOS, but this camp is designed to make sure that we are able to learn skills that can be used for the larger formation, which will begin on Wednesday, the day I return home. Most of the people in the camp will be staying for it, but I really have no interest in being on a huge formation. It usually takes at least 8 or 10 tries before they are accomplished, if they ever complete. There are five airplanes in formation, and everyone must leave at the same time from each plane and the formation builds from the inside, or the base, and each person must attach to that formation in the right spot, with the right grip, and everyone must be there for it to count as a record. You have only a little over a minute for this to happen before it's time to break.
I've learned from many earlier times I was on big formations that I don't do well with that kind of pressure. Each plane has a separate camera person, and the organizers get together after each attempt and analyze what went wrong, or, more accurately, who messed up. They do what they can to change things so that the next attempt is likely to succeed. This takes time and effort. I was told to stand down many years ago because I didn't do well, and I was crushed. I want to have fun doing this, not stress myself out!
Well, the Skills Camp is designed to allow you to improve your skills and no pressure is applied about performance. Of course, the organizers are also looking to see who is likely to be allowed to start on the large formation and who will be "on the bench" to be in smaller skydives while the others attempt to set a record. Yesterday I made four skydives with my group of 15. We started with two no-contact skydives, where we were told to fly in a particular spot and not take grips. The first one was pretty spread out, as we were supposed to be "five feet up and five feet back" from the person in front of us. The next skydive we were to fly within a grip's length but not touch anybody. It was really fun and I was pleased with my performance, and with those of my group. We looked good on video.
So on to making a formation of fifteen! The next two skydives were attempts to link up, although we didn't complete either one, I felt good about the progress we had all made from the first skydive earlier in the day. By the time I was finished with that last skydive, I was sore, tired, and ready for dinner, as it was almost 6:00pm. A dinner was scheduled at the DZ at 7:30, so John and Gary decided to go back to the hotel to freshen up. I went with them, but with an ulterior motive: I wanted to pick up my own car so I could head back earlier than them, as I knew that once I ate dinner I would want to just climb into my bed and sleep.
That's just what happened. There was a lot of festive beer and wine shared amongst everyone, and dinner was very good, as they had the sausage hot dogs separate from everything else, so I was able to have pasta, salad, and vegetables, even if they were a bit overcooked for my taste. Once I had dinner, I didn't even say goodbye to John and Gary, I just went back to the hotel. I realized that my cell phone was in John's car in my gear bag, but frankly, I just didn't care. I needed to sleep, so I lay down on my bed and didn't even open by computer to check my email. It was not even 9:00pm when I was fast asleep. Now it's almost 6:00am in the morning on Sunday, and I am so glad to be well rested, since today we will make another four skydives.
They will probably mix up the groups, but I had so much fun with Carol yesterday, and I learned a great deal, too. The other three organizers are male, as are almost all of the SOS crowd, but among the sixty or so in the camp, there are five other women. I talked with them and everyone was pleased with the way the camp is progressing. We will then have up to four attempts to make a new record on Monday of all SOS women. Eleven women are signed up for it, although not all of them are in the Skills Camp.
By the time I get to Tuesday, if I want I can either make some more skydives or just rest up for the journey home on Wednesday. The way I feel right now, I can almost guarantee that Tuesday will not be spent skydiving. Although my shoulders are a little sore, I am really pleased to be here, enjoying being with my older skydiving peers. I thought I was the only one worried about my knee, but it turns out I've seen some really interesting knee braces, and every one of us, being over sixty, has some sort of infirmity. John took out his hearing aids before donning his skydiving helmet, and I hadn't even realized he uses them. He said they are way too expensive to lose one, and he doesn't need to hear on a skydive!
Of the four jumps yesterday, all my landings were good, and I didn't stress my knee at all. I'm hoping for the same today. And tomorrow. Lordy, I know how tired I'll be tonight, but it's all good, and I'm pushing myself to the limit. And having fun. Now it's time to shower and get downstairs to the breakfast room before heading off to the DZ. Until next Sunday, be well and thanks to everyone for your good wishes about this adventure of mine!