It was one of my most memorable tandems at Cross Keys. I was riding to 'tude one day with one of my favorite tandem masters...to protect the innocent, we'll just call him "Big Hunk." :)
My tandems were generally supposed to be "working tandems," i.e., practicing various maneuvers that I couldn't quite get the hang of in AFF. We normally planned them carefully in advance, but for some reason...maybe we both got busy...we failed to do that on this particular dive and hadn't much discussed stuff on the ground. Sooooo...as we're riding to 'tude, "Big Hunk" taps me on the shoulder...
"What would you like to do in freefall on this one ... besides try and get me killed?"
"Ummmmm, I have an idea...a new skill I can learn."
"That's not new. You've done it plenty of times in AFF. Besides, I can't take you on a head down tandem...it's not legal. Think of something else."
"Ummmmm ... can we hang off the wing of this Otter when we climb out?"
Smoke is practically coming out of my ears at this point...
"How about a little sitfly?"
"How about you let me come up with something. You'll enjoy it, I promise you."
"Okay, just as long as we can spiral under canopy."
Now, I'm sitting in front of "Big Hunk," so I can't see his face...but I can just imagine the grimace he's making at the prospect of another episode of sore shoulders with me. Hehehe...I can be *very* demanding. :)
Anyway...we get on jump run and "Big Hunk" tells me to just follow his instructions for the exit...and to keep my hands on my harness. He'll take care of everything else and will tap me in freefall when it is time to extend my arms to the freefall position. Kewl. I think I can handle that!
As we get into the doorway, "Big Hunk" has me sit on his lap (wheeeeee!!!!!!)...back to the doorway. I can't imagine what he has in mind here. Taking a firm grip on my harness, I anxiously await the count.
"Three, two, one!"...But, my word...this boy is strong! With all 170
pounds of me sitting on his legs, he kicks them up...visciously...and we go
toppling right out the door. Wheeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!! Blue, green, blue, green, blue, green...he taps me and I put out my hands...
... Blue. Would ya look at that? :)
... Flip ... oh, now it's green again.
I get the thumbs up to extend my arms. God, that was fun. But...the fun was far from over.
Under canopy...I guess "Big Hunk" was getting tired of my unreasonable
spiraling demands. A jump with me and a tandem master would be "down" for the next hour...massaging his sore shoulders. I was tiring out way too many of them and maybe it was now time for me to "get mine." "Big Hunk" was gonna give me all the spirals I asked for...and then some. Perhaps he was fixing to teach me a little lesson?
Little did he know...he was gonna be the one learning something today. :)
Anyway, as soon as we've done our canopy checks..."Big Hunk" asks if I'm ready.
"Let's do it!"
I take hold of the left toggle and we bury the son of a bitch!...and bury it ...and keep burying it. My word! He didn't want to let up! At one point, this huge tandem canopy, in all its rainbow splendor, was laying out right in front of us! I had never seen anything like it. Looking across from me, all I could think was "Wow! Is it supposed to look like this?"
But "Big Hunk" wasn't done with me. No sireeeee! He then did this little "weightless" trick. Slowly letting up on the left toggle, he brings the right one down at the exact same time. Holy Christ! We're weightless. My chest strap was actually floating. There was no doubt about it! We're playing astronaut now.
Then we bury the right toggle...and the wild ride starts all over again. My shoulders long before had given out, so "Big Hunk" was doing all the work at this point. I was just yelling and enjoying the ride.
At 800 feet, he sets up our approach and we prepare to land. I'm just catching my breath. I guess "Big Hunk" didn't mind...he probably figured I would be too sick at that point to be of much help anyway...but at least I'd have learned my lesson...and wouldn't be so rough on my poor tandem masters in the future. I would have finally gotten my "belly full" of spiraling.
When we touched down on the landing field, the dropzone owner was waiting in a pick-up truck to give us a lift back to the hanger. Now, normally, they didn't use the pick-up for tandems...but I guess if this little stunt was planned, they probably figured I might need a bit of "help." Hehehe...they figured wrong.
As soon as "Big Hunk" unhooks me, I leap up onto my feet (yeah, landed on my ass again ... ). Without so much as a sign of illness or discomfort, I grab ahold of him for a kiss.
"Oh, thank you...so, so much!" I breathlessly exclaimed. "That was without a doubt my best tandem to date. In fact, I'm going right up to manifest and buy me another. Will you take me again?"
I think the poor guy wanted to shit. His shoulders visibly slumped. The dropzone owner just smiled...as I merrily skipped across the field to the manifest trailer.
God, I love you guys! :) - Blue ones!
© 1999 rita