Note: See also Paraturnee ’12, Part I.
Friday morning, Oulu airport. Wheels off at 8 AM, exactly as planned!
The weather, which at takeoff had been a balmy +6C and blue skies, soon turned to thick porridge. This was not a welcome turn of events considering we were about to jump at an airport none of us had ever seen, including the pilot.
Luckily the cloud cover broke just enough to let us hop’n’pop our way into Ranua. We had finally arrived in Lapland!
A quick pack and a cup of coffee (courtesy of Arctic Air Service, cheers guys), and our happy band of pachyderms was southbound. Dark clouds were gathering to nobody’s surprise, which meant a somewhat bumpy ride below cloud cover. And radar cover, I presume, since we were flying low enough at times to utterly confuse my altimeter. On the plus side, some of us spotted reindeers.
In contrast with Ranua, Pudasjärvi is a no-nonsense airfield big enough for pretty much anything you might wish to land there, which the Finnish Air Force does on occasion. It was definitely big enough for us.
Our next stop, Kajaani, turned out to be not quite big enough for all of us. Stella had a chop and landed smack dab in the middle of a swamp – in the only tree for miles. Luckily she wasn’t hurt, which was a good thing, seeing as nobody – except for Johan, who landed with Stella – had any idea where she was, including herself. Not much to do then except wait for them to make their way back to civilisation. This eventually happened, and we left Kajaani airport just before the Finnair flight was due to arrive. For some reason our flight was not shown on the Departures screen, though.
Rautavaara, depending on who you ask, is Finnish for either “Iron Hill” or “Iron Danger”. Sounds like a Charles Bronson movie to me either way.
Kitee is famous for being the moonshine capital of Finland. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to hook up with any of the local entrepreneurs.
Next up was Immola near Imatra, famous for being right next to the Russian border, so it pays to be extra careful when spotting. I am happy to note that our jump did not involve any international intrigue.
Our last jump was back at the DZ in Utti, an 11-way speedstar which was, to borrow a phrase, somewhere between beautiful and interesting. The jump ended in extra excitement for yours truly in the form of a pilot chute in tow, which fortunately resolved itself before too long.
Sum total: 14 jumps, 13 airfields, 2 days, 12 jumpers, 1 chop, no injuries, can’t wait to go again!