TSA trip report April 2017: The 顺便跳一跳 trip

A last minute trip to deliver my rig to the buyer.

Did 14 jumps over four days at Thai Sky Adventures (TSA) in April 2017. Mostly blue skies despite this being the start of the rainy season, and FINALLY completed my long overdue canopy course for B license. Also, got embroiled in some drama. Here are some highlights from the trip.

Got caught peeking at the GPS instead of spotting >,<

Goodbye my friend
Time to say farewell to my very first rig, which has kept me safe for about 150 jumps. It was a real challenge for me to purchase all the separate components, way back when I didn’t know anything about buying used gear, for example that the number of rides and repacks is marked on a reserve canopy. Well, you ask lots of noob questions and eventually learn! Will definitely miss this purple workhorse who will now be moving to China, sans the AAD which is now installed in my new container.

Past owners saying goodbye T_T

I’m now 110% convinced that APF Brels is a GREAT system
On one of my jumps this trip, SOMEONE tracked into me at terminal velocity while trying to dock. Since this someone was then a USPA coach, it didn’t even occur to me that he would be unsafe on a straightforward 4-way belly jump, but I now realize that a coach rating and/or jump numbers are not a good proxy for skill or safety-awareness. I should probably have been more skeptical about his skills (or lack thereof), because on an earlier jump he also made an uncontrolled grab at our 3-way star while trying to dock, pulling the whole formation down and apart (see photo below). Suffice to say there was some drama after the tracking incident, and I got away with “only” whiplash and a bruise on my arm, but had I been knocked unconscious it would have been potentially fatal.

How NOT to dock: The culprit on a previous jump

I’ve always kind of championed the APF Brels, but after this experience I’m truly convinced that USPA should make Brels (or some kind of equivalent programme) a compulsory part of obtaining a USPA B license, instead of an option like it is now (i.e. to self declare 10 successful group jumps, which can be as small as 2-ways – Ref. USPA SIM Section 3-1E, 2c). Under the APF Brels, new jumpers have to clear 2, 3 and 4-way jumps under coach supervision before they are released “into the wild” to do group jumps with others. It is common for new jumpers to forget basic safety and flying skills in the excitement/pressure of docking into a bigger group, and I have totally felt this myself on my APF Star Crest jumps. The Brels would be especially useful at dropzones like TSA, where there are not as many opportunities to do group jumps due to the limited capacity (7pax) of the Porter, among other things. I’m not a good flyer by any measure but I do know the importance of putting on the brakes before you approach a formation, which is exactly what this dude didn’t do.  So yeah, I think USPA should really look into this. BPA has a similar system to the APF Brels called FS1 which is mandatory for all BPA dropzones.

The slow life and leaving the corporate rat race
I usually like to try new eateries on every trip so this time I visited a cafe that I found on Google maps, and ended up chatting with the owner for 2+ hours! Pom speaks English well and is a super talented and artistic lady. We talked about K-pop/K-drama (which she adores), dating (and how difficult it is to find The One) and doing what you love vs. being a corporate rat. I think it is awesome that she set herself a deadline to leave the corporate world (to open this cafe), and stuck to it. Unlike me, who will soon be returning to the meaningless rat race 😦

Little Green Cafe is located very close to the Tiger Zoo (on the opposite side), do pop by if you are in the area.

My Little Green Cafe: Hidden in the shrubbery

My Little Green Cafe: Cute but no wifi

My Little Green Cafe: Eclectic decor

My Little Green Cafe: Aglio olio prepared by Pom, a certified chef

My Little Green Cafe: Pom and I

The importance of après
Having visited 3 other dropzones now (see my reviews of Sydney Skydivers, Skydive Jurien Bay, and Skydive Dubai), I have surprisingly come to appreciate TSA more. Sure, there are plenty of bigger and more professional dropzones out there, but how many places can offer you the quality of life you get in Thailand? It has always been my belief that the après is as important as the activity, and Thailand is spot on. For me, the small nuisances of TSA (small/slow plane, timing restrictions for altitude jumps, arbitrary weather holds) are bearable in view of the big picture- cheap (and good) massage, accommodation, food, beers, etc. There is really very little point in doing 10 jumps a day at Skydive Dubai, when you can’t even relax over beers at night ‘cos a pint costs USD13.

All you can eat moo kata for THB179 (USD5)

Sunset, beers and paragliders

Having just come back from Dubai and Perth, jumping in Thailand was triply sweet. I won’t get as many altitude jumps in a day at TSA, but hey, cheap beer trumps all.

Date of activity: 9 – 13 Apr 2017
Location: Si Racha, Chonburi, Thailand (70km South of Bangkok airport)
Operator: Thai Sky Adventures (closed: Tuesdays)
Rate: THB950/1100 for one jump ticket to 9,000/13,000 feet. Equipment rental is THB800 per jump including pack job.
Booking (for fun jumpers): Just turn up
Accommodation I used: Poom Prom Apartment (about 11km from TSA)

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