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First Flights on R-Bird

What an absolutely gorgeous weekend it was! Mother nature’s gift after all that rain. Started off Saturday being a tandem dummy for Russ’s tandem re-currency jump. What an odd thing to do a tandem again, this was only my 2nd ever tandem, honestly don’t think I’d do it again. I’m not ashamed to say I got a little motion sick under canopy… the tandem harness plus not being the one driving just didn’t work for me, but I was happy to help out the pep TMs get current.

My new R-Bird got to see the light of day this weekend. I made four flights on it Saturday, and each one was an eye opener. I had been flying the T-Bird before, and I was impressed and surprised as to how much more forward speed and lift power this R-Bird has. I’m very much still in the learning stages of my wingsuit skills so I’m definitely not in a place to give an in depth review of this suit’s performance versus others, but I can share my experiences.

The construction of the suit is solid, they did a great job! Besides my business suits, my wingsuit is now one of the only other garments I own that actually fits my long ass arms lol. The jack the ripper hook knife means business, thinking of moving to the side though, being right in the middle makes it look like I have a permanent hard on when I’m sitting down.

It wasn’t until I looked at my freefall speed on my altitrack and saw Rick’s video of my first flight that I realized how powerful the R-Bird was with my legs full out. I left poor Rick in the dust as I sped off into the horizon. Turns were more twitchy compared to the T-Bird, I side slid quicker/further than I was anticipating. At deployment time I got head low, tail high, but thankfully it was a beautiful opening, I think the best opening I’ve ever had in a wingsuit actually. Wave off was a little unstable, but the deployment was smooth, on heading, no line twists. The mini fast back has a huge impact on drive. Without really trying to hard, I got my vertical speed down to 36 mph on my first flight.

Second flight I got to fly next to Lurch for a little while. His new S-Bird looks great! Slowly side sliding with just a little tap of the wing gripper was getting better but still need to control the distance and countering the slide to stop/slow down better.

The third flight was a fun one, Tom and I followed the rest of the flock out and just hung back and watched them build docks. It was a neat vantage point to see just how much effort goes into making docks work. My biggest eye opening on this flight was the difference in my fallrate being so much slower than the rest of the flock. I’ve not yet learned diving down to others in a wingsuit so I imagine that would have made my efforts to close the gap a lot easier. Instead I experimented with shutting down wings and arching. Checking my altitrack on this flight I clocked 120 mph vertical getting myself down to them.

Then we come to my fourth flight, sigh… this one didn’t go so hot. Cliff notes version I was not succeeding in shutting down my forward speed. I was experimenting with the leg wing trying to find a position to shut it down more. Then I made a bad choice to move where/when I shouldn’t have which led to what could have been a much worse collision. We both walked away unscathed thankfully. But yes, I am still beating myself up over it. Lesson learned, d’oh.

Needless to say I know I need to work with the gurus to help me learn this suit better and build my skills. It was great flying with everyone, I have a lot to learn, and am more determined now to dial it in. And I said to myself, “Self… fly safe”

And before anyone asks, of course I paid my beer!

Maybe it was just because it was the first day pushing myself after the winter lull, but 4 wingsuit jumps later my body was worn out. I’ll have to be more vigilant going to the gym this season I think :)

Didn’t get in the air Sunday, call me a wind wuss, but Otters dancing in the wind on the ground and the sound of wind blades slapping around…. no thank you. So I brought my camera out and took some shots of those who did take to the air, enjoy the short gallery below.

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