MELISSA JAHNKE: MY JOURNEY TO BECOMING A SKYDIVER – AFF LEVEL 7

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

August 10, 2014 AFF7

There is money on my jump account, and the sky is calling my name. I am anxiously ready for tracking. Everyone says I will love it! I can’t wait to perceive what this is all about.

Jordan, Jake and I go over to the trainer, and work on some fundamentals to help bring my body position more where it needs to be. Then I start learning the mechanics of tracking. I lay on the trainer similar to the position I am in free fall. I imagine what I will be seeing and feeling. I imagine how my body should feel, and what I should be doing. Jordan explains to me that I need to slowly put my legs straight out and point my toes, and bring my arms down somewhat close to my side. I envision this to be like Rocket Man going through the air at 140mph face first. He demonstrates it for me, and then has me try. They help adjust my arms and legs, and show me the correct position. Jordan tells me what to do if I get off heading, and how to fix it. I am excited to give it a shot. I run through the entire jump from exit to pull altitude. Jordan helps me prep my canopy pattern, although it is trending the same as earlier. I am totally stoked!

I gear up and do some gear checks. We make our way to the airplane, and load up. I am calmer the more I jump, and I love the way it feels on take off. There are some other advanced jumpers coming up on a jump run with our load. I feel calm and relaxed and am trying to take Bo’s advice from the weekend prior, and not put too much stress on performance, and just trust the process. I love the plane ride up, and love how everyone on board is like a kid in a candy store. No one in the plane would rather be anywhere else than right there. I think to myself “I love these people and this journey is incredible!” Jordan and I go over the jump run, and he quizzes me on different hand signals. I am anxious to try this and cannot wait to get into the air.

We reach our altitude, and I climb out first. I stand on the strut, and take a second to take this all in. I look ahead at the horizon, and just breath in. I can smell the exhaust, and am loving every second of this. I look to my left, and smile to Jordan. “Check in, Horizon, Up, Down, Off” and we are off. I immediately am ready for my circle of awareness, and maintain heading with Jordan waiting on his cue to track. He points me in the direction, and I try. I think to myself, “this doesn’t feel any different than forward motion.” I go back to my stable position, and check altitude. I correct my heading to see Jordan, and he waves his arms to me. I think “ARMS, I forgot to put my arms back!” I get the cue from him to go again. I check my altitude, and slowly and simultaneously straighten my legs and point my toes, and bring my arms down. I look forward and feel my speed accelerate. I count to 5, and then resume to my stable body position. I check my altitude, and turn my heading to Jordan! He gives me thumbs up! I did it, I TRACKED!!! I wave off and pull, and once again can see Jordan continue in freefall for a second below. I look up and watch my canopy open, and I do my little happy dance in my harness! “Whoo hoo!! That was awesome!!”

I fly the same pattern as earlier in the day and am able to get into my landing approach with little assistance over the radios. I am asked to make slight corrections and prepare for my final approach. Jordan corrects me, and helps me figure out and see my 30 degree angle, and I turn in and prepare for landing. I look up and get the big picture, and flare and step down. I am on my feet! I do love this to no end. I gather my parachute and walk back to the hanger. Actually I think I danced into the hangar and I know I had the biggest smile on my face! “I just tracked, I tracked,” I told everyone! “It was the coolest feeling ever!”

Jordan realized that his GoPro wasn’t recording once we went to review the jump. He explained to me and everyone that it was awesome, and that it was one of the best first tracking AFF levels he has ever seen! I kicked ass. I was high on cloud nine! What a great sense of accomplishment this weekend. To overcome something you are afraid of, and to do it with perfect execution is so rewarding.

It is harder and harder to leave here. I love everyone and everything about this place. I feel a sense of belonging that I have longed for. I pack up the car, and give my hugs. I am invited to watch the experienced jumpers do night jumps. I know it would be too dangerous for me to drive 3 hours after an exhilarating weekend of jumping, as I was utterly exhausted. There is no way I can miss any more work after last weeks vehicle issues, so I reluctantly turn down the offer. I fight back the tears as I leave the driveway, but know, it’s only for a short while, and I will be back soon.

Until next time, Blue Skies.

Follow Melissa Jahnke through the entire AFF program on her journey to becoming a licensed skydiver!

AFF Level I
AFF Level II
AFF Level III
AFF Level III part 2
AFF Level IV
AFF Level V
AFF Level VI

A lady smiles while in free fall during a tandem skydive.

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