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Why we sign off with *Blue Skies*

 

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patworks  (D 1813)

Feb 20, 2007, 8:06 PM
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Why we sign off with *Blue Skies* Can't Post

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In ’96 Keith Levine wrote: Please anyone, why do we sign off with "Blue Skies"; How did this get started & what is the intended interpretation?

When Sequential RW aka *Formation skydiving* was just getting started in the mid-1970s in ST, AZ, CA, TX, KS, and IL … the western USA, most skydivers wore jump boots. Belly reserves and ripcords were the norm. Helmets weren’t

Of course, good intelligent, cool skydivers never got caught dead. We believed that until Jim Heydorn bounced with a double total. Poof, the myth of the Right Stuff vanished. If Heydorn could bounce, ANYBODY can bounce!

Thus, the brighter pioneer sequential types began to notice that the quality/quantity of people getting killed by impact appeared random... good skydivers and bad skydivers both bounced about as high. We noticed that it was not that He screwed up but rather that fate is the hunter and there is a real element of chance in skydiving.

We learned that the bright blue friendly sky was balanced, yin/yang style, by a dark foreboding ground. Since the ground snuffed the life it was/is death. Unsafe practices, as a group were termed Black Death. The exit count used by my 8-way teams and several others was *Blue sky / Black Death*.
Sport parachuting became *Sport Death*. While the Black Death thing was an insider thing which translated to
Hey yall, lets avoid danger up there!
It later got adopted and/or banned by folks who did not and do not understand what it means.

So just as *Goodbye* means *God be with you!*
Blue sky/Black Death
is a salute to the sky/earth that means something like Lovely up there/ Watch out




(This post was edited by patworks on Feb 20, 2007, 8:40 PM)


patworks  (D 1813)

Feb 20, 2007, 8:42 PM
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SKR, Thanks! Formatting is a pain but looks cool.


patworks  (D 1813)

Feb 20, 2007, 9:52 PM
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http://www.cs.fiu.edu/~esj/uwf/uwf8.htm

Introduction. RWunderground does not ordinarily print stories or poems about death. But we're printing this piece by Matt Farmer because we think it is more about life than it is about death, and we want to share it with you.

A Friend Goes In. The Story of a Jump.

This is going to be a good one. I can feel everyone psyching up for it, as we turn jump run. Quinn is up front, keeping everybody loose and the vibes up.

"Alright, let's do it!"

"Air dive, Air dive, feels great."

"Air dive, Air dive, can't wait."

The twin Beech vibrates at a new pitch, as the driver throttles back. Floaters swing through the door and hang waiting. We move quickly to stack ourselves in the door. Heydorn is in the door. I slide in behind him and Luginbill leans tightly over the two of us. Melroy, Captain, Wooten, Herman and Gruber take their places.

Between Heydorn's back pack and the top of the door, I can see Chuck and Quinn watching me intently for the start of the count. Their jumpsuits are already flapping in the wind we will all feel in a second.

"Ready!"

Gruber starts the count.

"Ready," comes back the response.

Stacked in the door and counting, I can feel the adrenalin flow, mind and body winding up -

"Go!"

We explode from the tight confines of the Beech into a bright blue sky two miles deep and stretching from horizon to horizon,

I catch a good exit and look for Heydorn. He's right in position and the floaters are close behind him, tracking up on the still slow air. Quinn is up and on first with a beautiful fingertip dock. I close facing him on Heydorn's left hand. Chuck's up from the other float slot as Luginbill docks beside me on Heydorn's right arm. A five-spider fast, clean and stable.

Looking out for Melroy's side-in approach, I catch in my periphery above us Gruber's flare to the back door. He is perhaps fifteen feet above us, head down to the point of being nearly vertical, fully flared against the momentum of his approach speed. He looks for all the world like a flying squirrel in a desperate full spread flight to a small tree branch. Melroy slides into his side-in slot and Quinn and I catch him with no trouble. It's going great.

I glance over my shoulder to see where Wooten is. He's on a smooth final to the tip slot on Melroy's leg. Gruber's already in on the point and Captain has finished his side-in when I look back across the now nearly complete ten-wedge. Only the two tips are out and they close a heartbeat later, right on the pace. Little more than 25 seconds have passed since exit, the base formation is complete.

Everyone's attention is on Heydorn, He will key the break with a simple nod of his head. Ready -Now, he nods, hands release grips, the ten-wedge breaks into three pieces. Two three-man wedges separate from a four-man diamond. The two wedges are side by side, facing the diamond.

As the pieces begin to separate, the wedge that I am a wingman of turns a quick 180. The other wedge turns with us, between us and the diamond. Melroy, Wooten and I are the base wedge. We take up a heading, trying hard to hold it and fall straight down. I take a quick look over my inside shoulder and see the other wedge move into position behind us, ten feet up and ten feet out. The diamond is right behind them, on their level or maybe a little lower.

My gauge reads five grand. We've got the time. Three pieces are in position and we can dock them to triple diamonds, if we hurry. I take a glance at the ground, then back at the gauge. Coming up on four grand - still no dock. I look back over my shoulder again.

The other wedge is almost on us. They are shooting a very vertical approach, carrying a lot of speed. Captain on the point of their wedge has his arms back and up; Luginbill and Herman, his wingmen, are tucked up tight. The diamond is in close, already on our level, moving for the slot that will be there when the wedge docks.

Crash, the wedge, unable to brake all their vertical approach speed, comes on hard. Captain catches the grips and we struggle to regain stability. Before we can dampen the effects of the hard dock, the diamond, already committed, piles into the back of the two struggling wedges. Heydorn, on the point of the diamond, comes up with a grip on Luginbill. We fight for stability. The oscillation begins to dampen but the formation distorts where the grip is missing between Heydorn and Herman. Tension pulls at the formation; we struggle to stabilize and connect the open grip. It's no good - Snap, we lose a grip. The formation starts to break up.

I let go, turn to my left and lay it back into a track. Right at three grand, safe and sane, I track hard, then sit up and look over my shoulder. Above and far off to my right, I see Heydorn unload his P.C. Nothing over the shoulder, I wave and punch. My rag comes off clean and I feel the steady pull of opening. Just as I'm getting the opening shock, I see Heydorn again, not a hundred feet away, still at terminal velocity. His P.C. is streamering.

Words flash in my mind. Streamer ... Streamer...cut-it-away ... cut it ... Long before the words can be verbalized I see - seemingly in the very instant I perceive his situation - a flash of white, his reserve.

The scene screams away toward the earth. I watch. Stark white against the dark red and black of his tangled main, the reserve streams out. It doesn't bloom. It's tangled; tangled in the mess of line and canopy over his head.

Fear! Fear for this man, my friend. Fear borne of knowledge. Knowledge of time and speed and the ground.

The words pour out.

"Come on ... Come on ... pull it out, pull it out."

Seconds tear by. I watch, far below, the ground, the still hurtling figure, the flapping tangle of red, black and white. I watch, small now against the enormous earth, the man and the flapping un-opening chutes.

Fear and helplessness - my thoughts race - the time - Christ the time - come on - come on. I can see it's too late only an instant before he collides with the planet. A ring of dust and sand explodes outward from the violence of the impact. The flapping tangle of nylon lies still against the hard brown desert.

Dead. Oh, God. lie's dead, Not ten seconds have passed. Ten seconds, a life time. I hang spent, drifting slowly toward the desert under my breathing canopy. A deep sadness washes over me. I feel empty.

On the ground I can see cars stopping on the highway. People are running from the hangars to form a small circle around the smashed, lifeless figure. I am momentarily angry at these vultures, What do they want here? Do they think they will understand something of their own impending deaths by staring blankly at this man's?

I land and walk toward the hangar. The spectators drifting past me look curiously at the parachute rolled in my arms, Their eyes are bright as they hurry to see violent death. They don't understand the loss. What can they know of Heydorn - of fast hands and a quick mind, of an easy laugh and his intense personal sanity. To them it is only an opportunity to see a newspaper headline in real life. - Chutist Falls -Something to tell at work Monday.

Those of us who were on the dive drift slowly into the packing area. Eyes sad, movements strangely slow and deliberate. No one quite knows what to do with themselves - I am here, but my friend is dead. We stand in a small circle around Ron's van. There are short snatches of conversation.

"It doesn't seem real - not somebody like Heydorn."

"A streamer."

"No cut-away."

"Entanglement."

"Fought it all the way in."

"God, did you see him hit."

The conversation dies out, each of us lost in his own thoughts,

Thoughts about dying - about this odd chain of events we call life that leads us to it. He made a mistake. You can throw a reserve past a streamer sometimes. - A chance. He rolled and lost. Now he's lying in a broken heap out by the highway and I'm sitting here feeling the hot sun on my back and wondering. Wondering what it is we seek in freefall. Why are we here?

"Hey, that was a good dive."

Someone breaks the silence.

"Yea, that spider was right there."

Someone else picks it up.

"Quick wedge."

"Really."

"That was a nice swoop, Grube."

"The break to pieces looked good to me."

"Yea, but, when the lead wedge turned, it dropped down and away."

"Right, and vertical separation makes it hard."

The conversation rambles on slowly. I'm half listening and thinking -Well, what are we doing? Our friend is dead and we are standing here talking over the dive. But we're skydivers and so was Heydorn. Our lives and perhaps our deaths are tied up in this thing we call skydiving. Who's to say? We are only human, so we all live to die - and there are many ways to die - many ways. You can be so afraid of dying that you can't live.

Life is what skydiving is all about. In free-fall you know you're alive. You're right there on the edge where the world is moving. Where time is right now. Jimmy Hendrix said it right -

"I'm the one who has to die when it's my time to go, so let me live my life the way I want to."

The talk is slowing down. I glance up, squinting against the setting sun to see who's talking. It's Luginbill, big hands thrust deep in his blue jean pockets, kicking aimlessly at the gravel with his toe and summing it up in one easy sentence-

"Yea, well, no sweat, we'll get it. All we need is a few more dives."

Matt Farmer


debonair  (D 11192)

Feb 21, 2007, 12:11 AM
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In reply to:
Words flash in my mind. Streamer ... Streamer...cut-it-away ... cut it ... Long before the words can be verbalized I see - seemingly in the very instant I perceive his situation - a flash of white, his reserve.

The scene screams away toward the earth. I watch. Stark white against the dark red and black of his tangled main, the reserve streams out. It doesn't bloom. It's tangled; tangled in the mess of line and canopy over his head.

Fear! Fear for this man, my friend. Fear borne of knowledge. Knowledge of time and speed and the ground.

The words pour out.

"Come on ... Come on ... pull it out, pull it out."

Seconds tear by. I watch, far below, the ground, the still hurtling figure, the flapping tangle of red, black and white. I watch, small now against the enormous earth, the man and the flapping un-opening chutes.

Fear and helplessness - my thoughts race - the time - Christ the time - come on - come on. I can see it's too late only an instant before he collides with the planet. A ring of dust and sand explodes outward from the violence of the impact. The flapping tangle of nylon lies still against the hard brown desert.

Dead. Oh, God. lie's dead, Not ten seconds have passed. Ten seconds, a life time. I hang spent, drifting slowly toward the desert under my breathing canopy. A deep sadness washes over me. I feel empty.

I once wrote something similar. Nothing erases that frozen moment in time when you know it is over and yet, you must watch the event still being played out. To be so close yet so far. To scream so loud in your own head. To share the realization and the horror reflected in your skydiving buddy's eyes. He had 86 jumps. His name was Mike.

Blue skies. Black Death.


steve1  (D 23640)

Feb 21, 2007, 7:59 AM
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What a great piece of writing! Thanks for sharing.....Steve1


airtwardo  (D License)

Feb 21, 2007, 10:00 AM
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Lovely up there/ Watch out



In reply to:

Greetings Pat~

This whole thread gives me shivers!

I was one of those Illinois mid 70's cloud crawlers.

I remember Carl Nelson explaining the meaning of BSBD to me one hot, Midwest humid, giddy 'schools out for summer' feeling, type of Saturday afternoon.

Allow me to paraphrase it in my words, with apologies to Carl and the hope I at least got his meaning right.






Carl told me that for us 'real' skydivers... the sky itself is life, and the reason it's colored blue is because there is nothing in the spectrum as beautiful.

The Beautiful Life...



Black is the psyche's preprogrammed definition of all that's bad... darkness, the unknown, the inconceivable emptiness of not seeing.

Death is what it is...the absence of life, the end of what is good and what has meaning.


The Empty Void...



Carl went on about how 'we' link those two terms together in that way because in the course of pursuing our passion we, however mystically, unlock within ourselves the knowledge that in order to truly and fully experience life on a plane of consciousness above all others around us...

...We knowingly, willingly...aggressively, give death an equal or better footing in the reality of the moment, than we give life.

Two colors on the wheel, no other options, nothing else matters or is 'real'...time and again, we grab on with both hands, and give the wheel a spin.

Us 'real' skydivers don't fear our deaths, it's a given, we all know it's coming and unlike most people...feel it a pittance of a price to pay for what we get to see, how we alone get to feel...alone ~ together.




A page or two in my little orange logbook later, Carl went in.

I liked Carl, I respected him and looked up to him not because he was a better skydiver or because he was more talented, more out going, more knowledgeable than I could ever hope to be...but because none of that mattered.

THAT wasn't what's important or true!

In his eyes, in his soul, in his heart of hearts....

I was his equal. He told me so hundreds of times with his easy, thoughtful smile.


Gone but a day, I deeply missed my friend already and was hurting in a way inside that I never had.

I was pretty quiet at the parking lot safety meeting listening to the discussions of the why's, how's and what if's regarding Carl's death.

That is until some gallows humor speculation began as to what the last conscious thought he might have had just prior to impact...

I spoke up suddenly without thinking, in a loud, clear and confident voice that I hadn't heard from the 'inside' ever before.

~ I know exactly what he was thinking...he was looking to the heavens with that two mile smile, both eyes wide open...screaming THANK YOU! ~


Blue Skies!


(This post was edited by airtwardo on Feb 21, 2007, 1:48 PM)


Gene03

Feb 21, 2007, 4:43 PM
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Thanks Jim.
Nice post about Carl.
I met the man once at the old Chicago Hammond airport but never had a chance to talk to him in any detail.
I've always had the feeling that I missed out on something.


Gene03

Feb 21, 2007, 4:49 PM
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Great story Pat. Thanks for posting this and the link to your site.
I think this should be required reading for any newbie coming into the sport.
Do you have any from the good old days at Hinckley?
Or perhaps your college days?

Roether out.


(This post was edited by Gene03 on Feb 21, 2007, 5:01 PM)


BlueSBDeath  (D 10160)

Feb 21, 2007, 4:53 PM
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Here is one of my favorite links:

http://www.cs.fiu.edu/~esj/uwf/uwf.html

I had this as a paper back, then got a hard copy and love to re-read works of Works Smile

Stay Safe,

Arvel


(This post was edited by BlueSBDeath on Feb 21, 2007, 4:56 PM)


RogerRamjet  (D License)

Feb 21, 2007, 8:09 PM
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Hi Jim,

These stories make me shiver also. I knew Carl pretty well having jumped with him and Roger in both Hinkley and Z-Hills. You may well wonder about his last thoughts, but I wondered more about Roger's on that particular jump...

Pat,

That story "gets" to me everytime I read it.


Arvel,

Hey, I'm in Pat's book. Look in chapter 5 and scroll down to: Pre-Stars? "Hey Man, You're Late..."


Hmmm, three people in this thread that have jumped with both Roger and Carl Nelson. How the hell did we survive!


Zing  (D 6343)

Feb 21, 2007, 9:33 PM
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"How the hell did we survive!"

I don't know, but there's still a few of out here that jumped with both the Nelson boy's.

About two years ago, I started playing in the big blow job at Elroy, but I didn't like the Pro-tec helmets they used and they wouldn't let me wear my old frappe hat, so I toodled over to Square One and bought this beat-up purple hard hat like the free flailers use.
I didn't think I'd need the audible altimeter bracket on the side of the helmet, so I took it off. Underneath was a sticker proclaiming the helmet was the property of Freak Brother #2. I figured that helmet would be okay.


BlueSBDeath  (D 10160)

Feb 22, 2007, 2:52 AM
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That there is "Karma"

Stay safe,

Arvel


steve1  (D 23640)

Feb 22, 2007, 10:46 AM
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In reply to:
[ *Formation skydiving* was just getting started in the mid-1970s in ST, AZ, CA, TX, KS, and IL …
reply]
.................................
I'm really enjoying this thread! There are truly some master story tellers at work here telling it like it really was.

In about 1976 a lot of old friends moved from Montana down to Cassa Grande, Arizona to live and jump. Safety concerns were really loose back then. At any rate the term "Sport Death" was beginning to be heard. One of the most colorful members of our club, was Jeff Frangos, a former Vietnam helicopter jockey. At Casa Grande he drove a hearse for a vehicle, and people said that he was really into what jumpers called "Sport Death". Does anyone recall that term or know of it's origin?......Steve1


howardwhite  (C 3896)

Feb 22, 2007, 11:21 AM
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In reply to:
At Casa Grande he drove a hearse for a vehicle, and people said that he was really into what jumpers called "Sport Death". Does anyone recall that term or know of it's origin?......Steve1

Well, I sort of recall this:

http://www.dropzone.com/...port%20death;#728355

HW


Zing  (D 6343)

Feb 22, 2007, 1:21 PM
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Jacuzzi (Geoff Frangos) is alive and flying medivac helicopters somewhere near Parumph. Nevada.

According to Jacuzz, the phrase "Sport Death," originated at the infamous Arizona dropzone, the Gulch, not long after the Blue Sky, Black Death folks showed up.

Jacuzz told me that the first time he heard the phrase "Sport Death" uttered at a dropzone was one evening at Casa Grande following a showing of the USPA 16 mm movie "This Is A Sport."
As the movie ended, Bullit Bob stood up and said, "This is a sport? Wow man, this is Sport Death!"


(This post was edited by Zing on Feb 22, 2007, 1:27 PM)
Attachments: GULCH.jpg (21.0 KB)
  SportDeath.jpg (29.1 KB)


jonstark  (D 8298)

Feb 22, 2007, 2:39 PM
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I jumped with both of 'em. Matter of fact Carl got me with some electric OJ in Z-Hills in 78. Sumbitch!

Roger always remembered me with a big smile and a hello for years after we jumped on the first 100 ways. There was some real strong competition between Chicago and Florida for a few years trying to get the first 100 way and for some time after. Good times with good folks.

I remember Ma Death's Florida License tag "SKY DIE". Our DZ mascot was "Morticia". Often heard in Deland "Sporta-Morta".

After the 1980 Z-Hills world meet "Blue skies - Black Feet". Jim Hooper had burned the landing area shortly before the meet and the grass was more charcoal than green.

No reason for these comments. Just rememberin'

jon


BlueSBDeath  (D 10160)

Feb 22, 2007, 4:08 PM
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Love the pictures, thanks for sharing, may I use Sport Death for my avitar????

BSBD

Arvel


diablopilot  (D License)

Feb 22, 2007, 7:46 PM
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Thanks Pat. It has meant something to me from the day I first heard it, as taught to me by one of my instructors.

-jp-
Blue Skies, Black Death


patworks  (D 1813)

Feb 22, 2007, 9:30 PM
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Yup, Sport Death came from life and Casa-Gulch.
........ Back in the Yester-when
............ BJ and DeLuca would stop by our house in Fullerton after a weekend of USFET magic... They'd show Jan & I the weekend *Stuff* we’d started about 18 months earlier….
. . . . . . . It was a magic time . . . *back-ins* and other over the top stuff was being wrestled into shape.. . . . Complicated stuff like a side-body dock waz done via grip-switch crawl around grapple.
. . . . But Poof! Boffo! Suddenly, you did NOT grapple it, you flew it. *Perfect position* be there. EXACTLY in the right place at the right time.
. . . . . . . Big eye-opener. ( Yes! Tonight, I still get a soft and cloudy *WOW!* from the concept).
. . . . I digress and babble-jabber {duh} . . . . Black Death was there too.

. . . The events or that era were super imposed upon a canvas of people occasionally bouncing. Some skies included horrific airplane crashes that captured too many souls. Stuff happened. Fate was and is the hunter. We were (are) the prey.
. . . . The magic mantra of *My sh-t* don't stink; I never Fu-k Up! Rebounded in our face like a wet cream pie. People died. People continued to die. Yes, even the righteous frapped.
. .. . . That was acceptable. Life happens.
. . . . . . . But, sometimes the dead folks were friends. Buddy. Lover. Pal. Shit! That happenstance hurt too badly to not cry.
. . . . . Sport parachuting had [has] a sprinkle of *Sport Death* to season our skydive salad.
. . . . The myth of being death-proof was/is erased by a grim reaper swinging a random scythe.
.............. Gladly, for us, skydive is *Sport Life*
Actually, for all, *Sport Death* lurks.......

The fact that you've not died recently does not insure that you will live forever. To celebrate today and to experience tomorrow, recall the genesis of *Sport Death*

Yes Sport Death is a way cool T-shirt. However the message was and is, *Lets all be careful up there. Yes”

Blue ones!
. . . Soft ones!
. . . . . Happy ones!

Always,
Crazy Pat (2-cats)


fastphil  (D 5801)

Feb 23, 2007, 4:45 AM
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Thanks for the insightful ramblings Pat, puts life in perspective this early morning...


kkeenan  (D 22164)

Feb 23, 2007, 8:46 AM
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We always looked forward to the next issue of RWunderground from Pat Works. That's because you never knew just when it might come out, but also, it had the best writing and graphics in the skydiving world of its day.

Thanks for the memories, Pat. It's sure been a long, strange trip, and you've been a good bus driver.Wink

Kevin Keenan


patworks  (D 1813)

Feb 27, 2007, 10:22 PM
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When qe quit using BSBD for exits..... The team was the 'seasoned combine of AZ+ CA sequential flyers named Terminal Chaos.
. . Our exit count was:
Ready!
. . BLUE SKY!
. . BLACK DEATH!
. . EXIT!
Our team for THE BIG MEET that would decide the rankings of N. American formation flying teams was Dave Singers'
Quote:
North American Sequential Sweepstakes
Championships at Fort Lewis Wa, September 3-6, 1976.

We were short of flyers. We recruited Dave Wilds form the Ten way folks. All American guy. A real 'Mr. Clean", Dave had only one request. "Please modify your exit count to something else....."

So, OK, what would your suggest? His answer, 'Oh, something equally fierce, like from the Wizard of OZ, "Lions and Tigers and Bears!!, Oh My!"
Worked fine. Great meet.


patworks  (D 1813)

Feb 27, 2007, 10:26 PM
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Team Chaos at a Sequential Meet.

And now, folks, here comes Confusion and Terminal Chaos at the North American Sequential Sweepstakes.

Introductory Preliminaries.

Chaos reigned! Our 8-man team out at Elsinore (part of the old “Element of Chance”) had only six people ... and we couldn’t do round #3 of the International 8-man. The big meet up at Fort Lewis, Wash., lost helicopter support, and it was rumored you were supposed to wear helmets for all dirt dives. We had only three weeks of practice left before the meet. That meant that our 4-man team wasn’t going to get any practice at all, except in the van. Nevertheless, the big question was “How do you do 8-man team freefall with only six people??”
Ahhh! Dave Wilds (Mr. Clean) joins up with our crew after his 8-man team splits up. As his contribution to our chaos, Dave brought good morals, energy, and a tremendous amount of speed-star experience ... something like 800 jumps with Captain Hook. Gary Boardman counterbalanced this when he joined, skateboarding through ground practice and announcing that he loved sequential and boys.
Goodie, now we had 8 people ... if Bob Schafer (of the USFET) could make it over from the Gulch. Since we hadn’t jumped together as a team, ground practice would be a neat way to start out. Schafer arrives, but Doctor Death (Vic Ayres of the “Exitus” team), having wrecked his car, is still at home when the first load is called. Finally he arrives, and we’re able to start ground practice by 10:00 a.m.

Ground Practice.

Otis Vanderkolk acts as Captain Chaos to keep ground practice down to a four-way shouting match. Dave Wilds asks if we can’t replace the moldy team battle cry: “Blue Sky, Black Death!” with his own version: “Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh my!” The stunned reception is taken for agreement, and team practice starts.
In order to save time, part of the team adopts the Arizona (USFET/Gulch) team’s 8-man techniques. In order to preserve chaos, the rest of the team doesn’t.

Team Practice Jumps.

Compulsory #3 is giving us problems, but through diligent lack of organization, we have about an 80 percent completion rate on the 21 practice dives we put in before the meet.
In order to keep things interesting, we change the exit order for each of the compulsory jumps. We hang three people outside the DC-3. They act as floaters or base, depending on whose turn it is. To add glamor to whoever is going base on a particular jump, they are termed the “Heroes” of the dive. Where practical, or fun, we carry a three-man hook-up out the door.
To instill team spirit, the exit command is “Get out thar, Stupid!” One guy, a dope-smokin’ Tennessee ridge-runner, being about seven feet tall, introduces the team to the “animal” exit by planting his feet against the wall opposite the door and lunging out the door with almost everyone in his arms. Since it was fun, and felt good, we kept it up. This tall guy claims his name is Greg Giles, but we call him “Long Death” ‘cause it’s easy to remember.
People keep forgetting the sequences in the air, so we all promise to “get serious” about ground practice at the meet. (In a show of togetherness, three team members have malfunctions and/or blow up their mains on one single day.)
At last, the final day of practice ends and we plan to leave for the Big Sequential $10,000 Meet at Fort Lewis! Our final team meeting was wonderful. Several of us want to know “Where is Fort Lewis?” (It’s 1,250 miles away.) John Hager, from Oklahoma, has a better question “How are we going to get there?”

Getting There is Not Half The Fun.

Wednesday night late, we’re zooming toward the North and the competition, looking forward to a 24-hour drive, a good meet. and some hot mega-dives afterwards. The trusty old van is outfitted with a stereo, headphones, CB radio, cruise control, and part of the team. We stop just twice for major repairs. To keep sane, I do yoga in the parking lot, standing on my head, while Gary rides his skateboard around standing on his hands. Gary’s CB radio handle, “The Queen of Palos Verdes,” makes for some interesting CB talk and adds new dimension to modulation in general.
At Fort Lewis at last, we pitch camp, make four practice dives, and say a great big “hello” to a whole mess of old friends from all over everywhere. Goddamn, it’s great to see everyone again!
Pre-meet gossip has it that it will be a close meet, with the top teams likely being Seattle’s “Clear Eye,” with “years” of practice; Texas’ “Kaleidoscope,” with 130 practice jumps: the Arizona/Gulch/USFET team (who called itself “Fish” because they were always getting hooked into traveling across the United States at the promise of “all the free helicopter jumps you can make”); and our Elsinore team which somebody understandably has registered as “Terminal Chaos.”
In addition, Curt Curtis’ team, “All the President’s Men,” (Pope Valley) were looking good, and people from the “Seagull Squad,” Utah, sounded good, too. In all, there were 12 teams entered out of about 20 who had paid the registration but didn’t show, due in part to the last minute confusion about helicopters and meet location.
There was a whole slew of 4-man teams registered, but many withdrew, discouraged by the cost of the event and the fact that the four-man teams were given low priority by the meet director. Some 4-man teams had to wait five days to make a jump.

The Big Meet, At Last.

I just love competition. It’s one of the best kinds of RW jumping for me. Since it’s all “organized” already, all you gotta do is show up, pay your entry fee, wait for your load to be called, and party. Everyone is doing their best flying, and there are judges and videotape TV to keep track of what happens in the air and who is able to fly best as a team.
Dave Singer did a good job organizing the meet. He had some of the best RW judges (including Diane Kelly, Betty Giarrusso, Lorrie Young and Bob MacDermott) lined up, plus the TV videotape from Elsinore.
The Army did an outstanding support job, in spite of the Department of Defense ruling cancelling the helicopters. The Fort Lewis Army Parachute Clubs were beautiful! They gave up their entire Labor Day weekend to help run the meet, hold a barbecue, and support the relative workers! Yea!
As a Bicentennial tribute to the turkey, several teams clutched and blew the first dive. Arizona funnelled and blew their chances. The base formation for the first dive was an 8-man star. We decided that competition was a great place to add a fourth man to our somewhat successful 3-man-out-the-door. It didn’t work and the 8-man reform was backward and garbled from what it was supposed to be for flying the wedges 360° to redock. Everybody just shrugged, played it by ear, and it worked ... we got full points!
By the time we reached the last round, we had “max-ed out” all our dives, getting full points within working time. On round six we had a slow jump when one man went low on a sequence. We completed the dive but figured we were between 49 and 51 seconds on working time.
But several of the judges had missed our jump, so we weren’t sure where we stood. At a team meeting we decided not to protest the jump in the interests of promoting the sport and good vibes, etc. etc .... (We were tied with “Clear Eye” for first.) However, when Texas was moved up with us for a three-way tie after getting credit for a questionable judging, we protested, too. The judges and jury upheld our protest.

Enter Clouds and a Day of Rain.

Dave Singer began to feel the pressure and seemed to flip out for a while, declaring that since it was his meet, he would run it the way he wanted to. The judges said they couldn’t let that happen, since what he wanted to do was overrule the judge’s decisions.
Jumping stopped for about a day of daylight until the judges and Singer reached an agreement. Dave would direct the meet, but the judges would keep the official score and the jury would decide protests and post the final standings as they judged them.
So on Tuesday afternoon, when everyone is supposed to be back at work, we rejump and blow it, going 4 seconds overtime with another man low. This puts “Clear Eye” and Texas into a sudden death (weird choice of words, huh?) jump-off for first place. “Terminal Chaos” and “Seagull Squad” also went into sudden death for third place.
Seattle’s Clear Eye took first. Texas completed the maneuver, but went overtime and took second. “Seagull Squad” completed their maneuvers, too, but went overtime. We chaosed our jump, and blew the dive. Chaos reigns!
It was a fun meet in the air. I’m looking forward to the next 8-man competition. One thing we learned for sure was that our very intense ground practice helped us a lot in the air.

FINAL STANDINGS
1. Clear Eye Express, Seattle Tie, jump-off
2. Kaleidoscope, Texas

3. Seagull Squad, Utah Tie, jump-off
4. Terminal Chaos, Elsinore

5. Country Hod & the Fish, Arizona
6. Rush
7. Skydive, Canada
8. Swine Flu
9. Western Hemisphere, Utah
10. All the President’s Men, Pope Valley
11. Alien Eight
12. All of the Above, Seattle

Pat Works, Spotter Magazine, Nov,. -Dec. 1976
Quote:
\\D8tk1611\h pat's data\Data files from Pat's HP\D-Documents\PatsBOOKS\UWF\uwf4.htm


darkwing  (D 4164)

Feb 28, 2007, 12:28 AM
Post #24 of 47 (5311 views)
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Re: [patworks] Why we sign off with *Blue Skies* [In reply to] Can't Post

The 4-way part of that meet went about the same. As I recall the last round of 4-way didn't get completed. I remember the meet management tiff. It all worked out. Bummer about the helicopters


howardwhite  (C 3896)

Feb 28, 2007, 5:38 AM
Post #25 of 47 (5286 views)
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Re: [patworks] Why we sign off with *Blue Skies* [In reply to] Can't Post

Wonderful stuff.

I spent a day and a half in the USPA "library" in Virginia in December and they don't have any Spotters in it.

I have a fairly good collection and there are probably more in an 18-wheeler at the Pepperell, MA, DZ, where the files ended up after Spotter collapsed.

This is only one of the dozens of really wonderful pieces by Pat and others that were published only in Spotter, and, as one of the members of the Spotter conspiracy, I guess I need to get as complete a collection as I can into a publicly-available place. (Dan Poynter has a complete collection -- he started the whole thing.)

HW


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