By alby502

I departed Athens, Greece and arrived in Bratislava via Prague on the morning of 11 June. I had made arrangements with Stefan Eicker to be picked up at the airport along with a few other fellow jumpers (German, British and Australian). We departed the airport more or less at the agreed to time and were on our way to Dubnica. The trip took about 90 uneventful minutes.

We had a nice supper and were assigned our rooms. We were put up in some simple but reasonably comfortable connexes, 5 to a room close to the grass runway of the small airfield.

The next morning, whilst eating breakfast, we also in-processed and took care of whatever remaining administrative issues we had. Since the Czech/Slovak parachute we thought we were going use was deemed unsuitable for use by the Slovak authorities, we were given a 5-hour block of instruction on the MARS 300. This was particularly useful since many of the 50 jumpers had never used this system before. Great care was taken by the instructor to go over all the procedures, especially those for landing and malfunctions. The weather was marginal at times but we were able to begin jumping around 1400 or so from the An-2.

The organizers took great care to organize sticks so that everyone was assured of his jump. Although I had more than 100 jumps with military round parachutes, this was my first with a static-line square. I was the first one out on the third stick on my jump and my exit must have
been a good one since I had no twists. I had a little trouble locating one of my toggles so there was a few seconds of excitement until I gained complete control of the square. Once I did I was able to enjoy the view at 1200 meters! I began my descent over the airfield and
eventually came in for a one of the softer landings I've had. Old habits dying hard I still made a PLF even though it was probably unnecessary!

Doe to the severe injuries to one of our comrades and his eventual death, the jumps for the day ceased immediately. When his remains were taken away, all the jumpers formed a cordon to honor him as fellow airborne soldier. Despite the operation beginning in a positive manner, we were all truly saddened by this event and despite the best efforts of the organizers, we performed no more jumps. Even though it was decided to continue the operation the next day, we unable to do so for a variety of reasons that worked against us. On the afternoon of 13 June, the contingent was awarded their Slovak, Croatian, Polish, Portuguese and Katangese wings.

Despite the passing of our comrade, it was still a positive experience in that new friends were made and old acquaintances were renewed. I departed Dubnica the next morning en-route to Athens already looking forward to the next event I could fit into my schedule!

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