Tue. May 28th 5:50 AM:
We’re meeting downstairs for PT at 6:30, and I’m really nervous. I suppose I’m traumatized from last week and am wondering what’s in store for us, it’s the not knowing that’s hard to deal with. It consoles me to know that 15 other people will go through it with me, and I know I can handle it if they can. I know this is what I want for right now, but it’s kind of hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel this early on.
8 AM : The PT session this morning was pretty tough, but it only lasted an hour and then we started on the units. We were in our jumpsuits from 8 until noon, going from station to station learning different skills. It was good to be finally learning about jumping since our first trip out the plane is scheduled for next Thursday. I re-injured my thigh pretty bad trying to get up in my jump suit today, so my bad leg now has to be my good leg. It started hurting towards the end of the 110 lb pack test, a sharp pain in the upper middle part of my quad, but I thought it healed this weekend, but it definitely didn’t. My PLF’s (Parachute Landing Falls), were pretty good, but I need to work on my exits and letdowns.
Sat. June 1:
I thought I’d be better about journalling through this, but I’m really tired in the evenings and things are going fairly well, while i’ve noticed in the past that I usually journal when I would otherwise need someone to talk to. The PT Tuesday morning was pretty bad, a long run at a fast pace, starting with our carrying the metal bars for a mile or so and then going basically as hard as we could uphill for awhile. Actually I just remembered that that was Wednesday’s PT, Tuesday’s was a fairly short run but at a really fast pace and we all felt gassed afterwards. For yesterday’s PT they drove us to a quiet part of town and said the engines died, so we pushed the trucks in groups of 5 for an hour or so, which was tough but actually sort of fun. The Units have been enjoyable, at least for me, because despite roasting while running around in our jumpsuits all morning, we’re finally learning the nuts and bolts of jumping. It’s fairly simple stuff, but it has to become muscle memory to overcome the nerves that we’ll inevitably have when we’re actually in the aircraft door. I still haven’t really gotten the PLF’s down yet, but I’m counting on the practice i’ll do this weekend to help me figure them out. Letdowns are no problem, and my exits are getting better though I need more “vigor”, which seems to be the default critique when there’s nothing else to criticize about an exit. My right quad seemed to spontaneously heal on Wednesday, so I feel basically injury-free for the first time during this training. Russ, one of the trainers, said that two guys from his rookie class washed because of getting injured on their first jump. Our first is scheduled for Thursday, and I hope that’s not the case with our class. Erin’s parents are with her in Jackson, doing some fishing and wedding planning. Being in the dorms over the weekend is pretty depressing, so maybe i’ll camp out tonight.
Monday June 3:
There was no PT this morning, which was strange, and I feel like they’ll find a way to hurt us this afternoon. I did great on all the units today except landings, and there I was awful. Keeping your feet together when you land just goes against 30 years of experience regarding what to do when you land on the ground. I don’t consciously spread my feet apart, it just happens, every time.
Thurs. June 6:
Yesterday was test day on units, and everyone made it through to jump today, although my whole squad did really poorly on landings. In letdowns I had a tough time for a minute trying off the the bowl of the tree, and I forgot a shroud line check once, but after that I was fine. In exits I did great, but landings was awful. We were issued our real parachutes and reserves in the afternoon and weighed with all our jump gear on (I was 270 lbs, so 85 lbs of gear!), and then they gave us a long talk about how we’re moving to Phase 3 of training, jumping. In the evening we circled up and one of the trainers said “Ok guys, it’s a little tradition here to run to Frenchtown and back, 25 miles and you have 3 hours to complete it.” I was pretty distraught, because I was already exhausted and hungry and didn’t know if I could do it, but I figured that if I went down, a lot of other people would to. The trainers took off at a good clip and said that first we’d run through the dorms, and as we ran down one hall I started smelling pizza and thought, “Great, I have to run right by someone eating pizza.” Turned out the pizza was for us, and two rookies from the previous year were there to answer our questions and show us a video to get us pumped up about our first jump. It was such a relief I wanted to cry. After this morning’s PT it’s time to jump. I’m not that nervous yet, but I’m sure it will come.
Mon. June 10:
The last few days have been pretty memorable. We jumped twice on Thursday, once on Friday, and twice today. The first jump was pretty crazy, especially standing in the door right before I got the slap. My adrenaline was through the roof and I’ve never felt my heart pump that hard before. They steered us in by radio on the first jump, so I was basically just following instructions all the way down. The landing felt pretty hard, and Sarah, the base manager at Grangeville, was there to shake my hand. I was so relieved to be on solid ground. The second jump actually hurt pretty bad because I was running with the wind and came in hot, and my right leg shot out to break my fall and took a lot of the force (as I type this up 2 months later, it still hurts). Third jump was a 2-man stick at Hanson Ranch, and all went pretty well though they said we didn’t split the wind line very well. The second jump that day was cancelled because the wind picked up. Our first jump today was right at the base in what’s called the field of shame, and everything went well except my feet came apart on landing and my legs dropped when I exited the plane.
Tue. June 11:
PT this morning was rough, mostly bear crawling in full jump gear and practicing PLF’s. I think we all lost several pounds of water weight. Our first jump was good, though I set up pretty low and my feet came apart on landing. Bagan and Waerig almost ran into each other 60 feet off the ground and the trainers were pretty steamed about that. My second jump was really good, and Jamie and I both got with 15 feet of our panels and the trainers didn’t have much to say in the way of criticism, which was nice. They told us to be sure and get rest tonight, and that combined with the fact that it’s supposed to be too windy to jump tomorrow has me worried about a big run.
Sat. June 15:
Another week over and one to go. The last 3 days went pretty well for me save for 1 bad exit and my feet coming apart on basically every landing. My flights were all good and I feel pretty well physically. They washed Waerig on Tuesday night, probably because of his exits. Right now it feels like that would be the end of the world, which is silly, but still I wouldn’t trade places with him for anything. I’ll be so relieved when this is over and I know my job is secure.