"Sure," she said, ripping off five tickets and giving them to me. "That'll be thirty punts." just then there was a commotion outside--a student had landed in a tree, and everyone was running over. "just ... pay someone else!" she said as she ran out to join the excitement.
That left one guy in manifest. "Here," I said, handing him 30 pounds. "Oh, thanks," he said, putting it in his pocket. Then he looked at me guiltily. "But now why would you be givin' me 30 pounds?"
"To pay for the tickets?" I said. he looked puzzled, then handed me the money back. "Naah, I don't want that," he said, and walked out of manifest to look at the commotion over by the student. Hmmm.
I tried again a few minutes later. Tommy was working at manifest. First I told him I wanted to pay for the loads, and he filled in "paid" next to all of them. I offered him the tickets. "Hey! A malfunction!" someone exclaimed, and everyone ran out of manifest again to point and exclaim over the tandem main that was drifting into a far field. Foiled again.
After the next jump, I went up to pay him again. "No, you're all paid up," he said.
"No, I didn't give you any tickets before - you just wrote 'paid' next to all those jumps."
"Ah, wonderful, an honest man! Well, in that case, the first one's on the house, so you just owe me three."
"Okay, but I also owe you 30 pounds."
"Now why would you be owin' me 30 pounds?", he asked. I told him the whole story. He was doubtful, positive that I didn't owe him any money, and that this was all a plot to overpay them. Finally I convinced him and gave him the money. He looked almost guilty taking it.
The third jump of the day was a five-way with Conor, Teresa, Dave and Peter. Teresa hadn't jumped for eight months (except for a recurrency dive that morning) so I kept it very simple. "Fall fast between points!" I told them. "And whatever you do, stick with the base! Don't track off at 7000 feet if it doesn't work. Break-off could get very messy unless we all stay together."
The plane landed and shut down as they argued with ATC about going to 12K. ATC didn't want to allow it, but they were trying to get them used to the request, in the hopes of someday getting a turbine that could actually go to 12K in a reasonable amount of time.
Finally they said okay, and we got onboard for the endless climb. Dave brought a magazine, and we all read over his shoulder as the altimeter crawled to 12K. Finally we got to 11K and I did my pep talk thing, reminding them of not separating from the base and falling fast.
Photo by John Byrnes © 2000
"Okay, deep breath!", I said, and we moved our joined hands up and down. I looked at Teresa. She stared back at me. "What?" she finally said.
"Count?" I asked her. She was going to give the count, an odd one that involved four shakes and a launch.
She looked at me like I was crazy. "Uh, okay. One ... two ... three ... four ... five ..."
"No, the exit count? The shaky thing?"
"Yeah?" she asked. By now I figured she was thinking that the organizer must be crazy.
"Do a practice one now," I said.
"Oh! okay!"... and she did her shake-shake exit count. I guess they do things a little differently here.
The door opened, Conor spotted, called the cut, and they climbed out, the rear floater using the floater bar (first 206 I'd seen with _two_ floater bars!). They launched, Peter and I dove after them, and ... Peter docked in my slot. I sorta tapped him on the leg and he released and slid over into the right slot. I docked and we flew the 5-way for a few seconds. I wanted to fly it longer, since I had the distinct feeling that this was the only point we'd be getting, and I really wanted to look around at Ireland from 10K for a little while. But the organizer must be responsible, so I keyed the next point. Four people got in, the fall rate slowed tremendously, and Dave dropped out. He tried to recover for a moment, then gave up and flew away. Peter released and flew over to him to build a 2-way that dropped away from us rapidly. Didn't I just tell them not to do that? Oh well!
So break-off was going to be interesting. I rebuilt the 3-way and this time did just hang out, watching the clouds go by, green fields stretching out as far as I could see. Or at least what I could see through the cloud deck, which was, of course, pretty thick. This was Ireland, after all.
At break-off I found the low 2-way first and tracked the other way. Did the other two see the 2-way? Fortunately, they did. I opened up and realized I was about a mile from the DZ, sorta downwind. Hey, my first chance to see how much glide I could get out of my new Saphire! I loosened my chest strap, spread the rear risers, and tucked up into a ball, all the while looking for outs. Nothing looked good. Lots of crops, a few roads, but no open fields. Oh - wait a minute! Those big green chunks are all pastures, and those little white puffs were sheep. I was too used to Arizona and California, where all large green fields are irrigated croplands. The biggest hazard here was actually the peat bog, which, ironically, looked just like an open field in San Diego (i.e. A flat, dull brown plain.)
But my Saphire did a good job of imitating a sailplane, and I coasted over the fence with no problems. Colin landed beside me, but the rest of the load landed out. Everyone was happy despite the single pointness of the dive. "that's the first 5-way we've had here since ... Well, in a long time," remarked Conor.
I manifested again, but by now the 172 was broken, so they had to put all the students in the C206. Tommy, the manifester, was getting annoyed at how no one ever seemed to be ready on time, especially critical now that they were down to one plane.
"David! Be gettin' yer bloody kit on when I tell ya, or I swear to God, I'll come after ye with a baseball bat!", he yelled at one point over the PA. David didn't seem to move any faster when he said that, though.
Photo by John Byrnes © 2000
In general, things tended to move pretty slowly there. Several times, with sunset coming fast (Sunset came at 10:30 p.m., but it was already 9 p.m.) the plane would shut down so the pilot could stretch his legs, walk over to manifest, and chat for a while. At one point they had no student rigs left, but no one really wanted to pack, so they held the plane waiting for someone to pack a student rig. It got so bad that Jean, a first-freefall student, came over and asked me to pack her rig. Sure, why not? I packed it in the hangar while she was outside "looking for a fag." (not what it sounds like.)
Check out the Irish Parachute Club's Web site at http://www.skydive.ie/.
"Have ya pissed on the plane?", he asked me at one point.
"No." But that couldn't possibly be the question, could it?
"What did you say?"
"Have ya a pissin' plane?"
"uh . . ."
"Do ye have a pissin or a turbin plane?"
Aha! "no, we have a turbine, a Grand Caravan. There are a lot of turbines lately from where I'm from."
"They have turbines in Iceland, you say?", he asked.
Another night I ordered a water for me and a beer for Shauna, a woman I'd met up in Belfast.
"As onge y e?", she asked. It took three repetitions for her to get "what's wrong with you?" across.
Ma, on the other hand, was perfectly clear. She owned the B&B I stayed at that night, and knew all the skydivers. Oie had stopped by the previous night and asked her for a bed. She acted very put off, since the last time he'd done that, she'd held the room for him and he'd stayed out drinking all night. She scolded him severely, and he promised that he would really show up this time - he even gave her 5 pounds as a 'deposit.' She took it with a scowl.
"Again, he didn't show up!", Ma exclaimed the next morning, when she found his bed still made. "That bloke! ... He needs a nice girl to calm him down. Well, not a nice girl, I'd never wish him on a nice girl. Just a girl, that boy needs." She dug around in her pocket for 5 pounds. "Here, find him and give this to him, but give him a bit of grief for me first, would you?"
I left on Sunday after making one more jump. The C172 was still down, so the C206 was very backed up. Still, I got one jump from 10K, a 2-way with Ian. Strange comment on the plane - "The winds are howling up here, so don't wait too long after I get out!" Sort of a different approach to exit separation! Sure enough I ended up right over the first guy out. But that was okay - one guy I can avoid.
Thanks to everyone at the Irish Parachute Club for a great weekend - Tommy the irate manifester, Ma at the B+B, DT, Conor, Jean, Teresa and Peter, and especially Noelle, for getting the crowd together, and Shauna and Erica for giving me a place to stay!
By Bill von Novack - email@example.com