Badness, Round One.
Trip Start Nov 16, 1983
3Trip End Ongoing
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Another day trip...
After picking up his parachute back in Miami, that was packed by a stripper, he thought it was about time he tested it out, just to check it was working properly. So, after confirming it was ok to use Big Wave Dave's (BWD) island as the base for getting set up, we made our way over in the Cessna that was about to be transformed into a "highly professional" skydiving airplane.
I would just like to iterate, at this point, that Captain had only recently obtained his private pilot's license, and as you can see from one of the photo's that the runway on BWD's island is a touch sketchy to say the least, with a hill at one end and ocean on the other, heavy bush either side and rocks the size of bowling balls scattered all over
On the first occasion I had to remind him to put the landing gear (wheels) down five times before he actually did, which occurred about three feet above the runway, after him reassuring me five times that it was not problem and he had it under control. The second time he decided it would be a good idea to land without flaps which resulted in us running out of runway and having to pull off into someone's backyard to avoid the mangrove swamp at the end of the runway. His Dad who was waiting on the side of the runway, about to have his son fly him down to George Town, actually found it quite amusing. I'm glad he was able to see the funny side, he certainly has a better sense of humour than me... The third time, we were lining up to land at Nassau International Airport and I recall mentioning to him that I thought we might be a little high as the runway was about half a mile in front of us but still a couple thousand feet below. Again he reassured me that it was not a problem. A moment later, the control tower mentioned the same thing to him on the radio, but again he reassured them it wasn't a problem. A second later we were in a full on nose dive, almost experiancing zero gravity, heading vertically towards the runway
After arriving it was straight down to business. First of all we had to take the doors off of the plane and then discuss how we were going to do this. We decided that BWD and "The Dragon" as we like to refer to his girlfriend, were going to sit on the side of the runway and film Captain landing, provided his parachute actually worked of course, and that his brother Lone-Wolf was to fly the plane and I was to be in it taking photos. I had little choice in this decision. So, naive as we were, we decided just to wear board shorts and nothing else, apart from Captain who had a parachute attached to his back and a pair of sun-glasses taped to his head. This turned out to be a bad judgment call, especially for Captain (as you'll see once I get around to posting the video) because apparently it gets a little chilly as you climb to 10,000 feet
As the big moment approached I started to get nervous. I wasn't sure if I was shaking because of the cold at this stage or the fact that I had to lean over to where the door used to be with just a seat belt strapped around one leg to stop me from getting blown out of the plane. I think I was actually most nervous for my buddy who was about to, in my mind, plunge to his death with a parachute that had never been used. As he climbed out onto the wheel with 120mph winds trying to force his body backwards, I could tell he had done this before. Suddenly he pushed off and within a second or two he was out of site. Next thing you know I was frantically looking around to see whether his parachute had opened. As each second passed my heart beat faster and faster and right before it was about to explode I caught a glimpse of the yellow, black and blue from his chute. That is when I finally got excited. The Lone-Wolf put the plane into a spinning nose dive, eager to beat his brother to the ground. We touched down only a minute after Captain and as we taxied the plane back to the hanger we saw that he was hobbling along with a glow of red coming from one of his knees. Something didn't go too smoothly... I guess that's what happens when you decide to land barefoot on a runway full of rocks.
After we reviewed the photos and footage, packed up the chute, put the door back on the plane, we headed back home. All in all it was a pretty solid way to spend a few hours. Note: This is just the beginning......