Peterlee, UK: 16th-18th April 2021
Britain is generally, comparatively, a warm place. The gulf stream sends remnants of tropical storms out across the Atlantic to bounce up off the edge of Western Europe and swirl their relatively warm wet air across this fair, green land. Every now and then, when the wind comes from the North, it is cold. Proper cold. Scandinavia Iceland Arctic Circle cold.
As British folk and skydivers both, our relationship with cold is a contrary one. We will complain bitterly about the temperature while simultaneously gearing up, and moan about the total lack of sensation in our hands while jumping through all the available daylight hours. For a week or since the re-opening of UK dropzones, a relentless North wind had blessed us with the bluest of skies, but the coldest of jumping conditions. Hide from the wind cold. -35 degrees celsius at altitude cold.
I remember the days when I would jump in anything they would put the plane up into. I could pretend I am more safety-conscious these days, which is possibly true – but really I am just soft now. Do I want to go for a canopy flocking jump from all the way at the top? No. Do I want to go freefly? Mmmmm no. Well alright, but only if you promise it will be super fun. Do I want to hoppop? Mmmmm okay, but only at exactly the warmest part of the day and I will still whinge. Despite the whining we do it is always worth it, as for just a minute the cold is irrelevant – and honestly, it really helps when the place you are at has an upgraded Caravan that gets you to 15k in a shade under ten minutes.
With currency an issue for everyone after an enforced period of zero jumps, SkyHigh Skydiving in the very Northeast of England repositioned what was to be their Easter Boogie with an event aimed at the qualification of newer students – and also the general easing back into things for all and sundry regarding all we need to do to take care of ourselves and each other when jumping out of aeroplanes. With tons of AFF jumps to also get done it was a pretty labour intensive gig for the staff, but the simple fact of getting stuck into work kept spirits high despite the brutal cold and the busy days.
This was the first proper opportunity of the year to test out the new event setup, and the spiffy new Vertical tent is going to work out great. Having tents that can join together not only serves the purpose of demonstrating that the Cypres guy is also the Vertical suits guy, it magnifies the available space to allow for roomy tweaking of how this all works. There is now plenty of room for all the various things, and with additional support from Larsen and Brusgaard the place is useful and informative. At the next event, I am going to try and fire a Cypres unit using the LB alti test chamber, and see how good that is as a way of demonstrating the actual activation speeds in relation to the needle moving on an analog visual altimeter. People can do it themselves. Touchy-feely. Nerds rejoice!
This is usually the time of year that we are gearing up for the Euro tour – spending the Summer months going from one dropzone to the next. Right now while writing this, we have no idea what is next, but fingers crossed that it will be something like last Summer and suddenly everything is possible – at least for a little while. Maybe in the new world we have learned to get the jumps in when and where we can – and to enjoy things all the more because, y’know – reasons. Providing it is not too cold.