The long jump is the one I never made.
I was scheduled for 3 jumps from the A3: the orientation jump, the high speed jump, and the high altitude jump. For those more familiar with Air Force aircraft than Navy planes, think of a B55 with more powerful jet engines and a tail hook, and painted gray. To jump from the A3, you sat facing aft, dangling over the forward portion of the open bomb bay. When it was time to jump, you reached up, pulled yourself up and forward, and dropped down. You were immediately swept behind and under the tail, but towed along briefly by the draft of the aircraft. As you slow down and fall away, you simply assume a stable position and freefall until it’s time to open.
The orientation jump was from 12,500 feet, so a 60 second delay. We were not allowed to open below 4,000 feet. The jump went as advertised and was a great rush. The high speed jump was the same, except that the plane was flying at 275 knots indicated, about 350 mph true air speed. There was no way I could move my arms away from my body until I slowed enough, then I just gradually assumed a stable posture and enjoyed the 60 second freefall.
So the day came when I was to make the high altitude jump. I had never jumped above 12,500 feet. This was to be from 24,500 feet, a 120 second delay. That meant jumping with a bottle of bailout oxygen and the mask on. I was really looking forward to that jump. Unfortunately for me, the A3 was “down”, reportedly a nose wheel problem. By the time the nose wheel “problem” was fixed, I was no longer assigned to jump from the A3.
To this day I suspect that Bob had sabotaged his own aircraft. First, he didn’t approve of us jumping from the A3--he thought it was dangerous. Secondly, he didn’t approve of me jumping. So I suspect that he “arranged” for the nose gear to be “down” long enough that I wouldn’t get the high altitude jump!
The Challenge for Thursday July 12, 2012 is to create a post with focus on "The Long Jumps In Our lives."