by Skip Smith - email@example.com
I was looking forward to night jumps. They seemed... foreign, new, different. I had just gotten 50 jumps, but hadn't taken my b test yet... So I went to the DZ about 1:00, and got the sim. I read for a little while and took the test. Then I filled out my license application, and made a familiarization jump. I had done my AFF there, so the landing area was already pretty familiar to me, but it was a nice relaxed jump.
Night fell and we had our briefing. The butterflies were starting to do somersaults, but I was kind of enjoying that feeling. I'd been jumping for three years, and it had been a little while since I was *really* buzzed with adrenaline. So I bought my light sticks, and borrowed a strobe. One of the guys showed me that if you rubberband the lightstick to the front of your protec, you can use it to check your alt, as well as your canopy. I taped another onto my riser... Just in case. Perhaps, maybe (probably not, but what the hell) in the event of a cutaway, I'd be able to find my main a little easier.
I get a couple of gear checks and head to the plane. Hmmm. Everyone already cracked their lightsticks. I think I'll wait until jumprun. They're always brightest right after you crack 'em...
All righty.... Jump run. They say don't do much. Just hang out and watch the moon. Crack the stick on my head and give a shake... Yup, it's on.
Fly in formation little butterflies... We're going for a ride.
I get in the door and give my 10 second count, and out into the ink I go.... Wow! The moon is gorgeous, and there's stars on the ground. Hey... There's the airport! I do a few turns, and a backflip. My lightstick is perfectly illuminating my alt. I pull on time, and watch as my canopy blossoms. Huh... That guy was right! I can see my whole canopy just from the light from the cylume... Wow! It's still freaking gorgeous! I do a few conservative turns and get into the landing pattern. Wow! This is going to be interesting. Talk about target fixation... Oh, hey... There's that other skydiver below me. A nice flare, and I tag the edge of the peas, to my astonishment, and the crowds cheer.
Several beers later, we're standing out on the taxiway, looking at the stars. There's an awful lot of them tonight, and the Milky Way is very prominent. I notice a "star" that's cruising up from the horizon. Hmmm must be the space shuttle. I point it out to the others there, and we watch as it crosses the event horizon, passes into shadow, and winks out. An amazing sight any night; somehow more special tonight.