|Kevin, me, Elaine, Linny, Christy|
Well, it didn't look like I would be able to go skydiving yesterday after all, as the weather was cloudy and not projected to clear in Snohomish until 3:00 or 4:00pm or even later, so I went on my usual Saturday morning walk. We hustled along on a 6.2-mile walk at a brisk pace. I then called the Drop Zone to see if the forecast had changed at all, if there were any predictions for it to clear earlier.
It was Pilot Appreciation Day, and one where all the groups at the Drop Zone would do "Linny jumps," which are some of Linny's signature skydives. I decided to drive the more than 75 miles south to Snohomish and give my contribution to the bake sale designed to benefit the pilots. At least I could get some socializing in.
By the time I got there, at noon, there were quite a few blue spots among the clouds, and we all got excited about the possibility of getting in a jump or two. As I've said before, we cannot jump through clouds, but we can jump if there are clouds around us. We need to still see the ground and know we will miss them. So off we went, the five of us, and made a successful jump, even though the clouds closed back in and we had to spend hours on the ground in hopes of making another jump. The plane, filled with jumpers that went up after us, spent some time flying around looking for a hole, but the jumpers eventually came back down with the plane. You end up paying for having made a skydive, even though you don't actually go. I've done it in the past, but I'm glad I didn't have to yesterday.
Anyway, after awhile the clouds did clear out, and around 4:30 we made another skydive, a very successful one. As I was packing up afterwards, Tyson (the DZO, Drop Zone Owner) sidled up to me and asked if I was up for another one. (I usually leave no later than 5:00pm because of the long drive north.) Tyson said that Kevin would go for another one if I would, so I agreed. I think he said the same thing to Kevin. No matter, we all went up again for what turned out to be the best skydive of the day, and I quickly gathered up my unpacked parachute and gear and headed home.
I made three "Linny" skydives yesterday. To describe what we did on the last jump, it will take a bit of explanation, but I'll try. Those handles you see on our jumpsuits are called grippers, and they give us something to hold onto when we make a formation in freefall. We made six different formations on that jump before it was time to separate and open our parachutes. It is called a "rotating spider" skydive. The person who is in the center to begin with has a person holding onto each arm and one on each leg, making a "spider" formation. When complete, the next formation is a different person in the center and each person takes a different grip. We rotate so each person goes into the center and you have to remember where you are supposed to be on each formation. It's a bit of a brain teaser, but it worked perfectly, so we were all totally excited when we landed, full of smiles.
Linny told me about a jump that she and Christy made last week after I left, which I found really interesting. An older man who had been sitting around all day introduced himself to Linny and asked if he could jump with them. Not knowing anything about him, how experienced he is or whether or not he could actually do it, she grilled him a bit. He calls himself the Colonel. He probably weighs twice what Linny does, but they went up and made a simply wonderful three-way skydive.
It turns out that the Colonel lives in an RV camper and is traveling around the country making skydives. His wife of 32 years recently died of cancer, and he is going around from place to place. He was heading up to Lost Prairie after his short visit at Snohomish. He also jumped at each Drop Zone in Oregon and Washington, on his way to Montana. Linny said that he hands out a card to each person he jumps with, and I want to share it with you.
He calls himself the Colonel and doesn't give any other name. He's got somewhere around 1,200 skydives and Linny said he is incredibly aware and talented in freefall. I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to meet him and jump with him, but who knows what tomorrow might bring? You meet some pretty interesting people hanging around Drop Zones.