Week 1.2: Skydive Crosskeys

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Day 2: Sunday, July 28th 

The next morning in Philly, I met up with Jungeun again to enjoy some breakfast together before she headed off to her big girl job and I headed off to my man-child affairs.  Wegman’s made a delicious breakfast stop, and Jung always makes for great conversation.  After eating, she showed me around her office before her first appointment came in for the day, which was my sign to skee-daddle.

I drove off to Williamstown, New Jersey, where the infamous Skydive Crosskeys (aka Freefall Adventures) is situated.  As I pulled in to the drop zone, I was welcomed by the sight of open canopies under mostly blue skies.IMG_2381

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I couldn’t even help myself from the hysterical laughter that now came over me.

I unloaded my rig and made my way to manifest, where I signed my life away (literally).

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Once  all my paperwork was complete I signed up for the next lift up.  Art briefed me on the dropzone and showed me around a bit.  I then got a chance to really look around at this beautiful drop zone.

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Look at that gigantic landing field!

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The hangar was also nice and roomy, with ample couch space to hang loose while waiting for the next lift, and ample floor space for packing your parachute.

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The jumpers hung out outside the hangar…

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…while the flags hung out inside.

Pretty soon, a 20 minute load call sounded over the loud speaker.  At the 5 minute warning, I made my way towards the loading area, when one of the tandem instructors yelled out “We’re gonna hold for the weather!” in a thick Brazilian accent.  A big rain cloud was headed our way and we needed to let it pass.

Except it never did pass.  Instead, around 5pm, the skies turned black and a torrential downpour let loose.  I waited it out in hopes that I would get a jump in that day and maintain my plans of heading to Washington, D.C. later that evening.

Not long after though, the beers were cracked.  For those of you who don’t know, that pretty much means skydiving operations have ceased for the day.  The rain wasn’t stopping so the planes were grounded.  Everyone headed toward the tiki bar to try to stay dry and wet at the same time…

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I was offered a beer by the friendly staff and we got to talking with Art, Darren, Whitney and the rest.  They were all pretty young and friendly folks who made me feel right at home.  We bullshitted a while, and then they showed me around the campsite on the dropzone, which included a bunch of RVs and decks built all through the site.

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Quite a few of the staff live right there in the RV park.  For a diehard skydiver, it seems like paradise.  Wake up, skydive all day, then in the evening have some beers at the tiki bar or take a swim.

After a few beers, they convinced me to spend the night at their campground and get on the first load in the morning.  With such a beautiful dropzone, it was hard to turn down.

So in between bouts of heavy downpours, I decided to string up my hammock and rainfly to stay the night in the woods.

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Of course just as I setting up, a steady rain picked up and got me SOAKED.  I headed back to the tiki bar to warm up with a beer and watch the lightning in the distance.  After the hammock was all set up, I was informed that the silver streamliner in the picture above was open for me to sleep in.  Since the rain was expected to be off and on all night, I decided to take that option.

After the crowd thinned, just a few of the staffers were left.  We decided to move back into the hanger where we could watch movies and chill on the comfy couches.  It was a nice opportunity to get changed into some dry clothing.  We stayed up til 2 am drinking beers, sharing stories and laughing.

Day 3: Monday, July 29th

In the morning, I woke up bright and early, took a shower, ate breakfast and then watched the first planes of the day take off and land over and over.  It looked like fun.

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The dropzone finally opened at 10 am, and I got my name on the first load.  While waiting for it to fill up and take off, I met two other fun jumpers (licensed solo jumpers) and we decided to do a three-way formation.

We were jumping out of a PAC 750, which was the first non-Cessna aircraft I had ever jumped from.  Jumping from 13,500 feet gave me loads of free fall time (about a full minute pulling the chute at 4000 feet), and the turbine engine of the PAC 750 reached altitude in less than 10 minutes, which was much faster than I was used to.

I did two jumps that morning with Steve and Fancy.  The first was a traditional three way, which looked something like this:

The second was a hybrid which looked something like this:

After the second jump, Fancy had a malfunction with his main parachute and had to cut it away and ride his reserve down.  However, he landed safely enough to get some pictures with us before I took off.

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Fun Jumpers!

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From Left to Right: Steve, Me, Fancy

After an awesome day, I hit the road to D.C. a little later than anticipated but very satisfied with my decision to stay.

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