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Saturday, January 05, 2008

My Second Jump

This is Steven Petrick Reporting.

Some of you have read of my first jump and are aware that I, along with the other members of my jump class, were told that if we could not make ourselves jump, that all we needed to do was tell the jumpmaster. He would then just move us to the side to clear the door for the rest of the stick to make their exits.

I had opportunity to observe this in action on my second jump, and it was true, sort of.

One of the things the instructors mentioned as we headed into jump week was that there is a tendency for some percentage of Jump Students to "balk" on the second jump, rather than the first. (Hardly anyone who makes the first two jumps will balk on the remaining three unless there is some other overriding factor.) There is some debate about why this is, mostly along the line that "you really do not know what you are doing the first time, the second time it really registers that you are jumping off a literal cliff with a 1,000 plus foot straight vertical drop".

I was not one of those who had that particular problem. I fell neatly into that majority category of having done it once, having no problem with repeating the matter however many more times it was going to be necessary to do so in the remainder of my life (even though it requires considerable grasp of my fear of heights).

But on this jump, one of my fellow cadets did have a problem, and all of us, in that particular planeload, got to observe the fact that the blackhats had not lied to us. The cadet was, indeed, moved "to the side", thus clearing the door so that the rest of us could jump.

Of course, they had not exactly been completely truthful either.

The cadet in question was indeed "moved to the side".

The "outside" of the aircraft to be precise.

They had to physically force him from the plane, but they did. In this particular cadet's case, it was a push (delivered by five blackhats) that he needed. Having gotten past that second jump, he went on to graduate, making the final three jumps of his own volition.

I have been told that this no longer happens in jump school, as there is just too much risk of injury to a jumper forced out of an aircraft's side door in this manner.

But I will admit that while I did not need the extra encouragement myself, I did resolve NOT to need it any time in the future.