Ramblings Of a Madman

Yeah, like i would know a good description…

Posts for Tag: flying

Learning to sit-fly

Free flying is hard work, i'll tell you that. It's always very easy to watch guys like the Skywalkers, Omar Alhegelan, Tim Porter, and other skydiving idols and think: "hey, i could do that". But what we tend to forget is that, like most things in life that are worth doing, it takes time, dedication, and a lot of hard work to make them look easy.

Last weekend at the DZ me and my pal "totaly" tried a couple of exits in a sitting grip and the result, though undisputedly hilarious, was not what i was expecting. I feel i'm getting a lot better at sit flying, but when it comes to grips, man, do i need to practice.

Enjoy the video, we know we did love creating it, hehe!

Blue skies! ;)

Évora - 2010-12-19 from Pedro Assunção on Vimeo.

Good news for helicopter pilots

NASA is investigating how to use Kevlar to soften helicopter crashes. If you consider that, since 2001, the accident rate for civilian helicopter use per 100.000 flight hours has been 40% higher than for general aviation fixed wing aircraft (1), then I hope this will eventually help mitigate some of the fatalities in those crashes. Especially because I plan to skydive from some in the future :)

(1) NTSB Aviation Accident Statistics

One weekend, one jump, totally worth it

I woke up today at around 9 am and proceeded to call my buddy Ricardo to see if he had talked to our big master Mario Pardo about the DZ's weather forecast for today. He had. Mario told him that the clouds were ok and, although there was a bit of wind, we should go there.

In half an hour I was on my motorbike on my way to my friend's place. We took his car and drove the 1 hour trip to the DZ while imagining the stuff we would do in the air. But when we got there the wind was just too much. 21 knots average (we can only jump with max 15-17). Since there were some tandems to be done, we missed the first flight due to the wind, though the sky was beautiful; Two layers of well stroke - massive - clouds with the sun rays shining through them. Absolutely gorgeous.

During that first flight we helped the tandems to land (high winds are tricky, and require someone on the ground ready to pull the brakes chords all the way until the canopy collapses, preventing the tandem instructor and the other guy from getting dragged backwards on their asses :)). It was really interesting watching the most experienced skydivers land in those conditions and one can learn a lot from it.

Then the wind started to slow down, and we got to go on the second (and last, unfortunately) jump. We planned to go out already docked to each other, eventually let go after getting stable, and re docking. Suffice to say that people that jump together for the first time have no clue what they are doing and it was really interesting what really happened.

We left the airplane together, as planed, and did not let go. The main problem was that we spent around 10 seconds fighting to get stable. When we eventually did, we noticed that Ricardo falls faster than me which means that I was always higher than he was. When we managed to get on the same level (I had to retract both my arms and legs a lot, and he compensated by spreading them a bit) we were ready to undock. As soon as we did we went apart really fast and spent the rest of the flight trying to compensate in both vertical alignment and proximity until the audible alarm went off at 5000 feet. We turned away and tracked until deployment altitude.

The landing, even if in high wind, went pretty smooth which made me more confident in my canopy landing skills once again :D

All in all, it was totally worth it to wait the entire weekend for one single jump. I guess that's how you know when you are addicted to a sport: when you are willing to travel 240km two days in a row just to enjoy 1 minute of it.

Blue skies

Skydiving A license issued. Awaiting arrival -D

That's right, the Portuguese Parachuting Association just issued and mailed my A license. In a couple of weeks I will be able to start jumping with my dear friend Ricardo, in Portugal.

Also, in another note, thinking of buying some freeflying pants. Anyone knows a nice price/quality ratio brand and online store? Currently considering these.

Flight to Amsterdam- cancelled!

Technical problems with the airplane on its way from Amsterdam to Lisbon prevented my departure today at 15.35 to the city of sin. I now have to wait until 8am tomorrow to be able to get there and, as usual, spend the day at work feeling like a zombie (because I'll have to get up at around 4 in the morning).

It was, however, interesting to see all the people in my flight running around like crazy flies trying to get a flight out of Lisbon as soon as possible. Everyone pretty much ended up having to wait until tomorrow. A funny part of this happened when I was at the head of this line:

This guy, speaking in English on the phone, said that when the airplane captain finished his "you're not going anywhere" speech at the gate, all the personnel suddenly disappeared, in his own words, "Portuguese style". It's good to see that I should never feel bad pointing out stupid stuff in other cultures; everyone pretty much does the same everywhere, and that's the beauty of this world :)

I managed to get out of that line of people but I soon found myself in a second one for 30 more minutes until, finally, someone explained us how to get our luggage back. After that, I went back to the KLM stand (same place where I took the first picture) but, as you can see, a lot of people got lucky getting their luggage first:

Luckily, after only about 1 hour in the line, some lady came and told us to go home and be back at 6am. I love the airport in Lisbon :)

The aftermath of the Accelerated Free Fall (AFF) course

Millions of years of evolution against you; that is the feeling that travels through your body, when you reach for that airplane door and look down from 12.000 feet of altitude. And it does not go away – after more jumps – either, though I have been told that it gets a little better.

But then you take a deep breath and jump. And the overwhelming sensation of freedom rapidly replaces the initial anxiety. And you fly. And for 50 seconds, you know no boundaries, no walls, just the feeling of absolute independence and detachment from everything. And, in that point, you get a taste of the life of a bird… or a flying squirrel :)

No doubt, one of the most magical and important experiences of my life. One that I strongly encourage everyone to try, for it will definitely change your body and mind!

I should have the videos and photos soon. I'll twit about it when I do ;)

Peace out.

Almost there

Just checked the weather report for this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday: 22 degrees C max and clear skies.

All set to go to Portugal and do the skydiving course. It's going to be awesomeness :D

The 30th row

I've always been curious about experimenting with different seats inside airplanes so, in this entry, I will try to sum up my conclusions about traveling on the 30th (the last) row of a Boeing 737-800, from Amsterdam to Lisbon with KLM Airlines (now AirFrance).

I would assume I was going to get less stress and confusion seating there than, say, the middle of the airplane. I was wrong.

The first thing I noticed, when reaching my seat, was that both the baggage compartments for these 3 rows (28, 29 and 30) were already filled with KLM stuff. I ended up having to put my jacket 5 or 6 rows further up the aircraft. Not a good start; if you don't have enough space to put all your crap, KLM, get bigger planes! Don't make people have to pay for it.

I sat down. The first thing I noticed was that this is the only freaking row on the airplane where the seats don't recline back. That really pissed me off, since I could no longer make use of this uber cool inflatable pillow I bought. Another thing that was really bad - though, in truth, I never noticed - was that at least in the 30C (mine) and 30D aisle seats there is this metal thing keeping the seat in front more stable, which kind of reduces the space available for my feet. Not sure if it's there in all aisle seats, but it's kind of annoying.

Now a bit of good news for those that want to experience a lot more turbulence that in the middle of the plane: You get the food first, since one of the trays goes into the front, and another starts from the back (you are in the last row, after all). This would be actually a good thing, except that the food was crap. Ok, it was shit. No, I take that back; I have tasted shit that was better. That particular corgette salad was inedible and the bread, I'm pretty sure, had been baked the day before. After the food, and as usual, I got the choice amongst several sweets. I went for the lolly pop. I figured that if this company treats me like I'm 6 years old, and have no conscience whatsoever of how much they are robbing me, I might as well continue the child-like behavior.

Now that the good news are done, let's go back to the crap. Literally! This seat is back to front with the bathroom doors. This means that, from times to times, you will get this really awesome (make that awe "full") sky breeze that will make you return the food you already ingested. That, combined with the fact that you will get dozens of air toillet users passing through you during the flight, will make for an extremely rewarding flight experience. One that you will never forget, at least.

To make it really really awesome, my laptop's battery was at 5% when the plane lifted off...