Arriving in Sebastian late into the night (thanks to a weather-induced delay out out of SLC), all that could be seen were the palm trees wrapped in holiday lighting and a somewhat scary Sylvester the Cat placard wishing me a “Merry Christmas.” The place was deserted other than running into Michael, a Canadian known on the Dropzone.com forums as “Hackish.” A nice enough kid who was really into explaining that his instructors tell him he’s “well above average” in his canopy skills. Note to self; be very cautious about the words used with students who are doing well….They might take it to mean more than it does.
Early in the morning, a disappointing cover of clouds overhead warned that jumping might be limited today. Of course, the sunshine and warmth of Amanda’s smile behind the manifest window sparked a degree of hope, and that hope came to pass. The call of “Otter load one” rang out over the DZ while I was busy setting up cameras and working on black balancing/white balancing.
There was a hole, and we were gonna go through it.
I ran to my gear like Batman to his Batpole….Harry’s video room converted to the Birdhouse is a convenient place to hang, but an even more romantic “bat cave” space to dress in. But…the wingsuit will have to wait for another day.
Climbed in as the only solo on the aircraft, and during the climb to altitude, changed my plan. The clouds were beautiful from above, and so I told the tandem instructors that I was going out after them, doing a high pull. The climb to altitude was fast, as the air was moist and thick. Sebastian’s aircraft isn’t noisy, it’s obviously a very cared for aircraft. The door is smooth, the floor is thick and soft, and the tandem students were kept laughing by the videographers. Very different experience than from a couple other Florida dropzones.
It’s incredible. We don’t get clouds like this back home. I watched the tandems below me as they fell to the clouds, saw them deploy, and noted the color of their canopies. Lazily, I flew from point to point, just watching the cloud movement beneath me.
The view from the air at Sebastian
And then realized I could no longer see the DZ. I knew I was in the area, but it was completely covered over. I spiraled down through the clouds, knowing no one was beneath me, and at about 3000 feet, found myself seeing the DZ again, but now the two tandems were only slightly below me, and since these TI’s probably wouldn’t be too thrilled seeing a new canopy in their pattern, I choose to hold in brakes, watch them fly, and continue to enjoy the beautiful view of the Indian River, Sebastian Inlet, and the surrounding areas. Damn…this is one of the most beautiful dropzones in the world.
Landing was uneventul, always happy to drop it in the peas. Brian, one of the packers, impressed me by saying he hadn’t seen a Voodoo like mine (cut corners for wingsuit) and asked if I’d show him how I preferred it to be closed up. He did a great job, and it all looked sweet.
View from the Ferndale Lodge dock, taken with my Blackberry Storm
The clouds closed up again, and it appeared the day was over. I headed back to my room at the Ferndale lodge, went for a short canoe ride around the river, and got a phone call from Scotty B. Turns out he’d just purchased a really ugly airplane and invited me up to ZHills to see it.
So…I’m on my way to Zhills. Catch you tomorrow from there.