At least it is getting easier each time I do it. Messy, but easier. The neatness will come. I shouldn’t have taken off the last 6 months, but I had to 😦 Since October I have not been allowed to jump due to that drunk driving idiot who hit us. I was told I could resume about a month or so ago but it has been rainy and cold so it was a wash.
I got my reserve repacked too and have 13 jump tickets left over from the last block I bought. Since I won’t be going to the AMA races, I think I am going to go do some jumps this weekend. I need to get current in landing and then pack some more BASE packjobs and then see if I can get a PCA off an object.
I think I’ll be hucking again within 2 weeks. I wish I could afford a bridge trip. I just love the bridge, fun, great landing area, great community, just enough altitude, sunny. But I have too many responsibilities and not enough cash. Drat!
Karen and I did another jump and I am pretty sure we got the shot. This time, no headlow, no flips, and a funny landing through sprinklers. Plus Shawn came alog om the observation ride again so we got some good exit footage as well. So it worked out. 🙂 It’s all in HD so we’ll be able to use it for sure. The jump was a great one, too. It’s how balloon jumps should be. Once it became work, it wasn’t as fun anymore but this time it was fun. I was stoked enough to even geek the camera. And you know I’m having fun when I’m geekin’ lol Pics to follow. This one up top is from my iphone and I look about incoherent as I can be. Way too early. *love the hair!*
I needed some footage for a reel of mine and so when Jenn called me, I grabbed two spots (1 for Karen for video). I decided to go in my skydiving gear because I was slider off on my BASE rig and was SO not wasting a packjob. Besides how often do I really jump a terminal object? Not worth the change-out. So I invited Shawn along if he wanted to get up at 3:30 AM and go. He said yes so off we went!
Luckily there was an observer spot available so Shawn hitched a ride and took some cool video from the basket. He had never been in a balloon so this was a cool opportunity. Although he said he felt pretty damn nervous watching people jump out when he himself had no rig on his back, lol! I feel ya! I hate being on a cliff with no rig, it completely freaks me out. You can see his concentration in the basket as I jump out.
We had the same jerk balloon pilot who always tries to rush us out. I miss Phil the balloon pilot. He gave us a ton of altitude and would take us to freaking Murrieta if necessary. So as this new pilot grouchily rushed us out, Karen took over and basically took charge and gave him safety reasons, etc for reasons we were taking our time. Not to mention the sun was in the camera angle. She got him to turn the basket and through communication a 3 yr old, but clearly not this guy, would understand we finally were in position.
And I facked up the exit. As she was outside the basket and I gave the count, I looked at her below me and went headlow. So instead of waiting for airspeed since I was all scorpioned over, I decided to do a front flip. Without enough airspeed I got caught on my back for a second HAHA! So I flipped over and didn’t track off too hard because I was trying to stay with her. Karen is a great photographer and videographer and skydiver. She can put herself anywhere and she is amazing.
But like I said, I am the one who screwed it up. So $225 for 3 flights later, that footage was scrapped. (But the stills were awesome!) Not to mention, my brake lines were taken in and I had to pull higher to test them out. Whew! They were a lot tighter and instead of the usual lift I had more planing and not being used to coming in as hot, with no wind and “different” brake behavior, I wadded it. Great. But I did have the pleasure of watching a newbie balloon jumper pile in, sreaming in flight. The idiot actually almost hit a chainlink fence so he instead he decided to front riser it and hook in–hard. He rolled for a while in a cloud of dust, jumped up and said “WOO HOOOO! That was f####g awesome!!” And repeatedly explained that this was his first balloon jump for about the next 2 hours if spoken to.
So, even the landing footage was scrapped. It wasn’t even fun because I was too busy trying to “work” and then we didn’t get the shot. We met up with Shawn at the second lift site and then went to IHOP, as is customary, for some chicken florentine crepes! Now I just need to schedule yet another jump and try and get some footage again this time. Shawn did get a good pic of me tracking over the Freeway which was pretty cool. I’ll post it when I get a copy. Karen took the pics above and has had a lot of her work published. Again, she is amazing 🙂
I hadn’t jumped a balloon in so long, so when I got the word on an open slot I literally jumped at the chance. Balloons are incredible substitutes for BASE jumps. They are also great for nailing exits for BASE hopefuls and those seeking recurrency. Not to mention they are far less effort (no climbing!), but about $75. more lol. But beggars can’t be choosers, so count me in!
Balloon jumps have 1 drawback–getting up at the ass-crack of dawn. And this jump was no exception. The night before, I got my gear together, however it wasn’t that difficult as everything was ready to go as always. I decided to use my skydiving rig instead of my BASE rig simply based upon the fact (no pun intended) that I was slider off and could take about a 2 1/2 – 3 second delay and no more. If I am going to use my base rig then I am opening low, which meant I had to get out at about 700-1000 feet. And if you’re paying $75 you might as well get more altitude, lol. I am such a hypocrite . Anyway, since I was not about to unpack my rig and put my slider on, I chose to go with my skydiving rig instead.
So I set my alarm for 4 am and hit the bed. I got up and once it started getting a little lighter outside I saw how cloudy it was. Great. The Perris DZ is 30 min away and I was SICK of having balloons canceled every time I got there for the last 6 months. I was tired anyway and thought $75 is worth it to sleep in, lol. They can have it. But a friend of mine that I wasn’t going to see for awhile was there and I decided not to be a loser and flake. I pulled my Under Armour on and some tac pants (tactical), put my hair back into a ponytail, threw the jacket for my tracking suit on and took off.
I fed the horses at 4:45 am (but only half their ration for breakfast since it was so early), and got hay on my tracking jacket. I know that sounds odd, but it’s actually not a first. I stopped at 7 -Eleven and got a 16 oz coffee and a ham and cheese croissant (on special for $3!) and continued my ass to the DZ.
I got there about 15 minutes late and it was cloudy as hell. It looked nasty. It turns out there were going to be 2 balloons! and two friends of mine (Karen and Hannah) were on the other load. Hannah was filming for the Swedes and Karen was jumping out with her wingsuit to practice for the valley the following week (lucky!). Also a BASE jumper I know, Andy, was there as well. I had not seen Andy since the last balloon jump. Interestingly there were two paragliders on the load as well. I have never gotten to see them launch from a balloon, and I still missed out since I was third to leave. But I get ahead of myself…
It turns out that for some reason the balloon company didn’t want to (or could not) take off from the DZ (weather??) so we all piled into vehicles to drive off-road someplace in Menifee to lift off. The weather was not looking any better so we were all pretty worried if this lift was going to happen.
We followed the two balloon trucks and the chase vehicle onto a county dirt rd where they pulled off into the field and begin to lay out the tarps. We all just sat around as they debated the weather, sent up an indicator balloon to test wind directions and speeds at the different levels. Lightning had begun to flash in the distance and a few raindrops started to pound our vehicles sending everyone rushing to get their gear under cover and the balloon company started putting the balloons back in the truck. Great. I sat back in the car and Twittered.
Well the Sky Gods smiled on us, briefly, and the rain stopped after about 1 minute. Out came the balloons again and we all had renewed hope. Then all of a sudden they started inflating the balloons. More than renewed hope, this meant we were probably going up. And it was lightning about 30 miles away, holy crap! I had never been on a load that went up this fast. They essentially inflated and BAM! we were rushing to board and lifting up.
The balloon pilot was not one I had flown under before. He told us at 1,800 feet, over a subdivision mind you, “do you guys feel safe getting out here?” Um, NO. WTF? SO on we pushed. Towards the storm and lightning.
The second balloon dropped pretty fast below us, presumably to let us go first so they dropped out of that slice of wind. We were expecting only 3K feet, but 4 grand eventually came along and one of the guys got out. My turn was coming up. The pilot was actually irritated with me when I was trying to get up on the side of the basket to jump out because it took me three very short tries with my mini wing in the way. It is very difficult to climb up onto a basket with your legs sewn partially together and booties on. So I simply said, “I have a wing, give me a break.”
Then JB got out and I got out a second or a little more after him (we were pretty much 500 ft in altitude apart the whole time). I did a standard BASE exit and then about 2 1/2 – 3 seconds later went into a track and waited for the forward speed to kick in.
It was beautiful. As a zero G exit always is. The first 1 1/2 seconds is the moment of absolute perfection. The quiet time. The time that is neither here nor there, yesterday or tomorrow, you nor me. It is the reason to BASE jump, or in this case, jump from a balloon. It lasts until the wind begins to rush up against your face and you begin to feel gravity take its effect. Then it is over. I was tracking. I could see JB tracking under me about 500′ and then I realized he was going away from our intended landing area. So I did a quick 120 degree or so turn and then he followed suit after seeing my change. He sucked it low (as usual). Then I kept tracking and eventually opened at about 3K. I know I could have gone lower, but I don’t like going low with my skydiving rig.
I saw his canopy as he headed for the fairway of the Menifee golf course, and the first jumper was getting ready to land near the clubhouse. I set up but with no wind I was at risk in overshooting my landing area so I continued to spiral to bleed off altitude. At 500 feet I still had too much altitude, another spiral and over the pond I went and ducks took flight. Ooops *please no bird strike* Still too high so I sashayed a bit and then passed JB and came down ever so lightly literally skiing on the thin layer of moisture on the perfectly manicured green. There was no way I was going to stand this up I had pretty good tread on these shoes and I was still skiing so I gently went onto my butt and slid into an eventual stop. AWESOME!!
JB packed while I spoke with the marshal. He wanted to know if we landed off course. We told him yes, the winds were weird and the lightning was scary. Every golfer-filled cart that passed was shocked at the lightning that had started dancing around us. Off in the distance the balloons were still traveling towards the storm. Eeek!
Dawn (from the balloon co) called me wondering where I was and I told her three of us were on the golf course. We were told to go to the clubhouse so we started walking and had the weirdest looks 🙂
Here is a self-portrait from the bathroom near one of the tee boxes 🙂 Not being a douche, just trying to show you how out of place I looked landing at a country club and walking right into their morning tee-time. That is definitely a mischievous-I-just-fugged-up-your-bogey look, not a kissy face. Plus I have no spray tan nor am I showing abs. Win Win!