When Matt asked me to come along with him to Twin Falls, Idaho, I agreed to go, but I really had no intention of doing a BASE jump. Being a single mother with two kids, I didn't feel like I had the luxury of coming home with an injury or even worse - dying. BASE jumping is very different from skydiving. You've only got one parachute and you have very little time to resolve malfunctions.
Prior to our departure, Matt put together a second BASE rig. The new rig had a vented canopy that was designed so that it could withstand impact with a cliff and not collapse. Matt was hoping that he would have a chance to do a cliff while we were in Utah - plus two rigs meant more jumping! Since I was coming along with him, Matt taught me to pack the BASE rigs. BASE packing involves clamps and precision - I liked it so much better than trying to cram my Spectre 210 in my D-bag. I figured if I could pack he'd be able to do more jumps while we were there.
In the end, I decided to jump!
The more I watched the others, the more I wanted to try it. I kept waffling back and forth. When I was packing next to Matt, I wasn't 100% sure that I was going to BASE jump. We talked about it for awhile. After we finished packing, I told him I wanted to go. He said he'd jump my pack job and I could jump his, but I didn't like this idea. I was going PCA someone on the bridge would be holding my pilot chute as I jumped off)- it was almost guaranteed that I would have a canopy over my head. I didn't want him to jump my pack job because he was going stowed and would have less time to deal with a packing error.
I did my first BASE jump on my pack job. Here are the notes from my log book:
BASE 1 - June 20, 2007 - Perrine Bridge, Twin Falls, ID - Fox 245 pin rig - Exit Altitude: 486 FT - PCA By: Josh Venning
I spent June 19th watching people jump. It was cool! I decided to try it. Matt was packing his rig. I watched him and packed mine with his supervision. I felt confident about my pack job. We went to the bridge later in the day. There was no wind. I practiced climbing over and then did it for real and jumped. Very quickly the canopy was above my head. The opening was on heading. The canopy wasn't very responsive. Landing was painless, but not pretty :)
In retrospect, I realize that my BASE jumping training was inadequate. I was instructed to do the following: Climb over the fence, look out at the horizon, jump, and land over there (pointing to the grass landing area). We didn't review emergency procedures or talk about a potential water landing. I would NOT recommend making your first BASE jump without a training class - what I did was irresponsible. After the jump, we discovered that my pilot chute was torn and when we watched the video and we could see that Josh let go too late and the end result was a huge hole. Fortunately, Matt traveled with a variety of spares. My second & third BASE jumps in Idaho were two ways with Matt!
Pictured from left to right: Adriano, Ryan, Me, Matt, Liz, Josh, Tyler & Bert