billvon (D 16479)
Dec 9, 2002, 8:54 PM
Post #1 of 11
300 way -day 3
Today we put the whole thing together. The base made one final practice jump, then we sent all 300 people up for the real thing. The first two had some problems with fall rate and plane spacing, but by the third one we had it pretty dialed in. It looked like the base completed, and 24 of the 32 wackers completed and were standing by to dock on the base. The other 8 wackers - the whole upper left corner of the dive really - had some traffic issues. The fall rate was fixed, finally. People on the ground said it looked pretty impressive, with most of the color-coded wackers in the right positions.
The dive is now big enough so it's almost impossible to tell exactly what's going on from any one camera angle. We have something like 8 cameramen who concentrate on different angles, so that each sector has useful video they can debrief. And, of course, so the judges will be able to see all the grips when we complete it. It's still a little eerie to be flying in and see a cameraman drop through the wackers to get a shot from beneath, or to see a cameraman hovering right beneath you as you turn to track.
Breakoffs are also a trip. I have a breakoff leader (Mary Pat) who I have to follow for 10 seconds or so, then I peel off and track away from the flock until pull altitude (2600 feet.) It's about 20 seconds of tracking, which lets me cover about half a mile. That's enough to get me clear of the B breakoff team, although I have to be careful not to track into the A team. Since they tend to be the light outer people, that's usually not a problem.
We're also getting used to dealing with the altitude and temperature issues. For example, one otter is a little underpowered, and can't use bleed air for heat and still stay with the formation, so they're freezing. We have enough power for heat, but the line between roasting the late divers and freezing the guy by the door is a thin one. It's really cold at 9am at 20,000 feet, and you're sitting in that plane for 45 minutes.
I had to change my helmet out for my old FP-1, since the oxygen system in the A3 helmets just isn't working well for me. Getting the plug in the back of the helmet is tough, and it's easy to knock it out without noticing and get hypoxic. Several people have abandoned the oxygen system for the old standby of sticking the tube in your mouth - simpler and more effective.
I lost my O2 about 30 seconds before exit on one dive today, and was getting the whole tunnel-vision, ringing-in-ears thing during the dive. Fortunately we got to 13,000 feet before anything worse happened, and my vision cleared up. One jumper I talked to was so hypoxic that she didn't remember the dive, but fortunately operated well enough on autopilot that it didn't cause a problem.
From here on it's just a steady stream of dirt dive - load - jump - land - debrief - go up again. If today is any indication, we're off to a good start.
Thanks for the update Bill. I was kinda ticked that there wasn't anything on 300-way.com, but this gives the news in a place I'm already at anyways. Good luck, it's gonna be something crazy when you get it I'm sure.
billvon (D 16479)
Dec 9, 2002, 9:12 PM
Post #3 of 11
Yeah, thanks for the updates... it rocks that we're getting day by day updates... I really enjoyed it when Lisa did it for JFTC, and I'm really enjoying it for the 300 way world record (not attempts) dives!
Good luck... and remember... 'perfect speed is being there.'
I'm really impressed by all the logistical issues, not having done anything greater than 35 ways. I'd also like to say that I hope to some day jump with the moderators that have kept us posted on this stuff.
If you're ever at Skydive Chicago . . .
Say hello to Luther Kurtz for Harry someday if he's still at San Diego.
>Breakoffs are also a trip. I have a breakoff leader (Mary Pat) who I have to follow for 10 seconds or so, then I peel off and track away from the flock until pull altitude (2600 feet.) It's about 20 seconds of tracking, which lets me cover about half a mile. That's enough to get me clear of the B breakoff team, although I have to be careful not to track into the A team. Since they tend to be the light outer people, that's usually not a problem.
>WHOA!!!! I guess bellyfliers can be pretty extreme. Having never been in a formation larger than 12, It would be really cool to read about what goes into a jump of this magnitude. (After it is all over with and you have had time to decompress, of course.)