Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Skydive City

In two days of trying to get a skydive at Skydive City here in Zephyrhills, I finally made one. Here's one of the most popular concessions at the Drop Zone (DZ for short): a place to pay someone to pack up your main parachute for $6, giving skydivers a chance to make the maximum number of skydives per day without getting worn out packing. If you look closely at the sign, under the price it says "experienced canopy compression engineers," reminiscent of the euphemism "waste management engineers" for garbage collectors.
I wandered around for a bit chatting with some of the local residents about the wind, which seemed a bit gusty and strong to me. I had not jumped for four months, never at this DZ, and with a new parachute, so my comfort level was very low and my anxiety level very high. They agreed that the wind was strong for 10:00 am in the morning and would probably get stronger. The first load of the day was on jump run and just about ready to drop its passengers.
Here is a tandem (an experienced skydiver with a passenger) coming in for landing. The people on the ground were acting as "catchers," ready to assist in getting the canopy under control once their feet touch the ground, allowing the pilot to concentrate on the passenger's comfort upon landing. Although at this very moment the wind sock was not showing strong winds, it was gusting up and down, so the DZ decided to go onto a wind hold for the time being. This gave me the chance to take care of getting registered and receiving the briefing about the landing area provided by one of the instructors. This is Scott, who showed me a picture taken from the air and told me how to easily find the DZ once I opened up under canopy.
Although Scott doesn't look like a professional (the hair, the t-shirt), he truly is, and as a skydiver, I recognized a young man who makes his living as a professional skydiver. He is a tandem master, AFF instructor, and camera flyer. He lives on the DZ. Over the years, I've grown to truly appreciate the ability of these young bright-eyed skydivers.
Meet Joanie, the DZ owner and operator. I met her years and years back at the World Freefall Convention when she was the owner of The Sunshine Factory, a pro shop for skydiving gear, providing everything a skydiver might need. Now she's got the same pro shop right on site at the DZ, and she was sweet enough to let me take a picture of her in her office.

I went home because of the winds and came back the next day, yesterday, and made a jump, since all my paperwork had been completed the day before. After wrestling my new parachute back into the bag, I was sweating profusely and discovered that the temperature was 84 degrees! No wonder this "rain bird" from the Pacific Northwest was so uncomfortable. The winds were still a little dicey, and since I only wanted to get my "knees in the breeze" and shake off some of the rust, I decided to come back this coming weekend when load organizers will be available and the DZ will have plenty of people for me to play with. As it was, it would have been another solo skydive or two, which just isn't as much fun as jumping with friends. I'll be back on Saturday, but it was fun, it's a great place and only five minutes from my sister' house!
:-)

24 comments:

  1. nice. bet you were right at home there...knees in the breeze...one day maybe...smiles.

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  2. Jeez, I don't blame you for being a bit apprehensive. I would imagine a new place, all by yourself, would be daunting enough. Add in the wind and I can see how it would be a bit less enticing.

    Scott's a lovely example of how appearances can be deceiving.

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  3. The last thing your sister wants right now is another funeral to go to! Think on.
    Star x

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  4. I hope you and your breezy knees have a great time!

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  5. Sounds like you're in good shape since it's only 5 minutes from your sister's house. I hope you find lots of friends on Saturday.

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  6. Sounds thrilling. Go for it, DJan! Hope it's not too windy this weekend.

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  7. Well I know where you will be on Saturday..knees in the breeze..be careful:)

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  8. Sounds like you're ready. Have a good jump! (I won't say break a leg like they do in the theatre.)

    You are missing a large snow event. Lucky you!

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  9. Have a great jump! I've been to that airport. My first cross country solo flight was to Zephyr Hills. I landed in the midst of a hot air balloon festival!

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  10. How convenient to have it so close by. Have fun.. be safe. I know you will.

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  11. Those are some pretty skies!...and I would have freaked out if given a map on how to find my way back to the DZ...are you kidding me?...never gave that one a thought...who knew! I always thought they dropped you off right on the spot you would land...silly me. Hope your new chute was everything you hoped for.

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  12. 10k steady wind would be almost like standing still touching down, but gusty... too unpredictable. Looks like a cool place to jump, though. Ever take a disposable camera with you and snap pictures while under canopy? I did that a few times. Wish I could find the pictures.

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  13. Sounds like you are not a stranger for long wherever you go. :D However, my stomach is always in my throat when reading about your dives. lol

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  14. Doing what you LOVE to do and having it close to your sister's house...we'll hope for just the right weather for you.

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  15. Too many variables to do the jump the first day you were there. Just having a new chute would be enough. Pretty cool that the place is so close to where your sister lives.

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  16. oh that all looks like so much fun
    Scott looks like a free spirit which I think is perfect for a sky diver

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  17. That sounds like the best-est fun. If I were sixty I might give it a try.

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  18. I still can't believe that people do this. They told us in basic at the 101st airborne that if we didn't have a chute or if it didn't open we would be the first one to hit the ground.

    I can't find the blond wig and my daughter thinks it is storage so I may end up with a Santa Claus hat on my head during the Fox thing. I did get my hair cut this morning. I plan on taking a bath on Monday night.

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  19. You rock! I love your spirit of adventure, and I envy the warmth you're getting to experience right now.

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  20. I know you are enjoying your time!

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  21. Better safe than sorry. Thanks for the interesting peek at the diving lifestyle.

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  22. It was nice to read all your past posts and looking at your lovely pictures, like Lily Lake. You are surrounded by such lovely landscape. I have been looking for a place to visit on my birthday, not too far, and could not find one near. After our trip to California and Hawaii I am not ready for another long trip, even Charleston seems too far (about 6 hours away.)
    I went to read Pete’s blog – what a guy. I am so sorry about his passing. It is so good that you could go to Florida and be with your sister – it certainly was a great comfort for her to have your there. I wish I had a sister like you, DJan – I have no sister, no brother.
    It's good that you brought your gear with you - you have always so much energy.

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  23. Wow! You are very gutsy! I'm afraid I am far too whimpy to attempt something like that.

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