3rd March 2009 As forecast, the weather is crap today. Dust storms, wind, clouds, and drops of rain. We are on hold until 3pm and the odds are no further jumping. The state of Victoria is on a fire alert - everyone with a mobile received an SMS from the Victorian Police. This was an opportunity to discuss the details of big way jumping. Sarge has become the world expert on the "ARCH" and gave yet another insightful and entertaining briefing. Everyone learned a little about how the formation flies and how each individual can affect the overall flight characteristics. We dirt dived several 12 ways and 5 ways in preparation for better weather. The focus has switched much more strongly towards our goal of building a 36 way and the specific skills required for each of us to achieve that goal. I think the newer jumpers are just starting to get a picture of how detailed the planning is for this event and how much effort our dive engineers (Chris and Brian) are putting into the jumps and the event. As more information is revealed, the Ah hah's are becoming louder. Much time has also been spent on reconfiguring gear to make flying canopies both easier and more compatible. Stay tuned for more information as it happens.
2nd March 2009 Today was a much better day for jump numbers. Most managed 5 to 6 jumps. One person was heard to say "Now I can officially sign off my currency requirements next time the membership comes up". Today we stepped up to 3 way snake dives for the early part of the day. Later, the base 4 way and a stinger did some jumps, followed by a few 9 way jumps. There has been several cutaways - mainly caused by messy wing docks and unstable formations, a number of shoes lost, a few out landings, and one withdrawal from the event. We are spending considerable time debriefing our dives. All participants were in the debrief room until 9.30 pm watching the dives from the day. But it is important for the learning process. We have some great camera people filming our dives: Wayne McLachlan and Steve Fitchett who were also a part of our 2007 record, and Pam Pangburn who has filmed a million CRW jumps around the world. Most groups were improving considerably throughout the day. We were all getting practice at piloting, wing docking, and locking off. By the end of the day the CRW jumps & risering from 14000 feet were starting to get to many people. I think that a pre-camp weights training program might be in order next time around! Quotes & Incidents: Sharky has had a fun few days. He hasn't CRW'd for a while so was a bit rusty - this led to a few wraps and chops and pretty interesting docks. Sharky was trying to find his limits again. After all, that's what these small dives are for, finding limits. Only problem is that the "No Limits" T Shirt idea was stolen from Sharky. When attempting to wing dock Dale B on a 3 way snake, Sharky stated: "I overestimated my ability and underestimated my speed. Well that's one limit found". Later, Sharky tried to dock a row 3 wing onto Dypsy and ended up giving him a Lightning hat. Dypsy wore it with pride for a few minutes until Sharky got thrown / spat off and redocked. Both Dypsy and Sharky were a tad nervous on the second attempt. That's another limit found. Are there more? Stay tuned! The Sharky smile and wide eyed look of I've got an idea was back! Brian was impressed with the wrap and stated to Dypsy: "well, at least you can't drop that grip on your head!" Debriefing a dive, one participant stated: "That was a really stupid, idiot move". Brian P gave some positive feedback with a smile: "YES". Chris G to Jill G: "You are a bit floaty on your 160, we might need you to jump a 143. Can you jump a 143"? JG: "Well actually, I can't land my 160. So I'm sure that I can do just as good a job of not landing a 143"! Later on the packing room floor a conversation about the art of sex and how long people last. 30 seconds was a consensus number thrown around. JG replied: "That's about how long I last on a CRW jump!"
1st March 2009 Today was the first official training day. All jumpers were allotted canopies and pairs based on their wing loading, canopy size, and experience. Most jumps were 2 way stair step drill dives. There were many people who were not current or not experienced, so it was important to dust off the cobwebs and start building some wing docking skills. It was encouraging to see some excellent skills from the new CRW pups. It was also a relief that the uncurrent jumpers hadn't lost all their skills. It was a pretty slow day overall as we had one Pac750XL flying the CRW loads and also the Drop Zone weekend loads. Most of us got around 3 jumps in. We only had one major drama today where Helen decided to try some funky freeflying on exit and ended up chopping at height. Height BTW is 14000 ft. Her canopy is still suffering from hypoxia and she has a nice bruise on her arm. It was also her first chop so the cartons have already started on day 1.
28th February 2009 Yahoo - jumps are starting at Nagambie Drop Zone and the crowds are gathering, ready for the official welcome meeting. Tomorrow is the official start of jumping for the Aussie 36 Way Australian CF Record attempts. PHOTO's - go to the pictures page on this web site or check out the CF Record Album on Skysurfer.com. The official first circle up at 6pm started off proceedings. Rob, Tom, and Bill H, screeched into the circle up area about 9.5 minutes late after about 8 hours of driving. Robbie swears it was the second beer at that third pub that cost us the fashionably late entry. This meeting was an opportunity for the team to be introduced to each other and the organisers. We have nearly 50 people at one CRW (CF) gathering in Australia. WOW! Thanks to Sarge, Mitch, and Higgo for driving this event , and to a number of others who have been running seminars, lending gear, tutoring, and participating in various events around Australia. Particular thanks to all the new CRW pups for joining in on the fun. We promise you all a wonderful and "exciting" future. Keep at it. This is also a great opportunity to thank some official organisations for assisting this event and CRW generally in Australia. The Australian Parachute Federation, and all of it's constituent state councils have provided funding to get our coaches over, and to support participants in the event. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! Thanks to Nagambie Drop Zone and the Cross's for hosting us. 50 CRW dogs is a challenge at the best of times. To Phil and Sydney Skydivers for providing their aircraft. To our American coaches for giving up their valuable time for supporting this event and providing equipment. Thanks also to those individuals and PD for providing canopies. You are all wonderful and we'd love to welcome you all to Australia one day. There will be many more to thank you's to come. It was fantastic to see Chris Gay again in Australia organising our big ways. This alone increases our chances for success by a huge factor. It was even better that we managed to get Brian and Pam Pangburn to our event. With half the World record organising team here, and 10 participants, we have the foundations of success. Better still, we have a heap of keen and skillful CRW pups eager to learn and succeed and plenty of old CRW dogs dusting off their gear ready for renewed action. Tomorrow, the fun begins.
We had two loads go up this morning. The first formation built to 11 people following a hold up on the left row three area. The good news is that the wing position and lock offs were filled by people moving into new slots in the formation. Even though filling slots has been discussed in briefings, it is still something that many participants have not done. Some good thinking and good work. The second formation built to a 16 way diamond. For many people on this jump it was yet another first. Bring on the beverages. Chris and Brian are tweaking the formation design and testing combinations to ensure the safest, smoothest, and most reliable formations.
There are two main goals with these bigger formations: one is to show people who have never seen something this big what it looks like and to get a feel of how it is moving, where to set up, and what approach to use. The other is obviously to increase the size of the base and make any adjustments as required. The "wows" and smiles showed that people were impressed.
Both formations involved two aircraft, the Pac750XL and a Cessna. The Pac is dropping from 14000 feet and the Cessna is dropping from 10000 feet for these dives. There are many "sub teams" in big way formations that are required to function together to make this happen. Each of them need practice to get timings and setups right. This includes the formation aircraft. This was the opportunity for Don Cross to do his first (FIRST) formation CRW load as drop pilot. He was surprised at the descent rate (~ 1200 feet per minute) and needs a couple more loads to get the descent and exit speeds right. The final formation is likely to be a Skyvan dropping the base, the Pac750XL dropping the outer rows in formation with the Skyvan, and the Cessna dropping the bottom of the formation at a lower altitude.
Then the clouds crowded us in with the base dropping to 1500 feet. Jumping was put on hold as the risk of landing out or coming through the cloud above the forests was too high. Another series of briefings was held during the downtime to maximize learning opportunity. Video's were shown from the 100 way highlighting approach and setup techniques and positions. Some of the more experienced jumpers (Chris Gay, Vaughny, Julz, Tom B, Sarge, GB) discussed their key tips for learning CRW. Doing 2 way and safety procedures were a common theme. There was a lot of encouragement for the new CRW pups to try 2 way competition and get support (tutoring / coaching) from the more experienced jumpers.
Wed 4th March 2009
The judges have arrived. Ray and Lindy are here and have started taking down jumper information. The attempt is getting serious now!
We got a number of loads up this morning prior to yet another weather interruption. Whilst it's good that Victoria is getting colder weather and rain a/c fire issues, it is hampering out efforts to get practice jumps in and developing skills necessary for the record. The loads this morning were several 12 and 13 ways mixed up with a number of 5 ways. The bigger formations were the first look at something bigger for most of the new participants. There is excitement in people's faces and a little frustration too. Getting to and docking onto a large CRW formation is not as easy as it seems, even if it is only a one point dive. After yet another thorough debrief, the loads went up again and success was achieved on most formations. The search for row 4 and 5 wings is on and we have a few good finds. Rows 2, 3, and 6 are lined up with lots of experience already. There are 3 more slots to fill on 4 and 5.
Loads are being piloted by Chris Gay, Brian Pangburn mainly, others have been organised and piloted by Julz, Coops, Tom B, and Sarge. As we get bigger, Brian will take charge.
For all you morbidly curious people, the cutaway tally is increasing. We had a double on a 5 way load today a/c of a rough offset dock. I think we are up to 8 now. All gear has been accounted for, which is great.
After days of poor weather and only a few jumps yesterday, we built to 30 people in the morning. Debriefed the dive and sent up the next load. It's amazing the transformation - only just completing some 12 ways to a 36 way attempt in one day. To cut a long story short:
We did it again! - A New Australian Record 36 Way!
See Photo attached. Photo by Pam Pangburn.
The main goals of this camp have been achieved:
Break the Australian Record.
Build a 36 way diamond.
Have safe (this one is open to interpretation, successful, and fun skydives.
Foster interest in canopy formation. There are a lot of keen new and old CRW pups out there. A database a regional fun / serious CRW/CF development program will be introduced.
Increase the skill level. From 2 ways to 36 ways. We now have a good pool of wing dockers, sequential, and lock offs in Australia.
The bigger formation is an issue a/c aircraft capacity. However, the chant after the successful 36 way was: "49 way, 49 way, 49 way". So clear your calendars for 2011? We may have another crack at it!
Jenny and Lindy were at the drop zone and photo's were sent to Kirstie in NSW. It took a little while to get the communication through, but we circled up for the announcement. All grips were good - A new Australian record.
We changed several people (5) out to allow others to get onto the record. The next dive built to a nice 30 way left hand box with a row 6 wing on the right. However, the wing was not locked off and the dive was not completed. We exited at 14000 feet and had the 16 way completed by 11000 feet. So we had a great opportunity to do the job. A few minor personnel changes and we were up for another attempt. Pauly B lost yet another shoe (we are going to ask Imelda Marcos to sponsor him). Or we are going to send him up barefoot????
Fri 6th March 2009
What a day!
Following the painful trend of recent weather patterns, we all awoke to total cloud cover and droplets of rain. All participants had become a little frustrated and bored with proceedings. Suggestions were coming thick and fast: lets move drop zones, lets jump were the clouds aren't, let's, let's, let's . . . . . Patience and motivation have been the major aspect of training from the coaches. It is hard to keep bored skydivers motivated sometimes. Games were invented and created (some of which were very sado-masochistic, 3rd eye, the circle of light, eating vegemite and jelly sandwiches, etc) to keep the participants occupied. Others caught some shut eye to make up for the lack of sleep over the last few days.
Finally a cloud base recon load went up after the rain stopped - it was deemed OK to jump. Excitement and relief was felt by all. However, the excitement translated to out of control docks and some messy formations from the base. Several wraps ensured with the formation not getting to the 9 way.
Sarge, always on the lookout for attention and limelight decided to get wrapped on both the first jumps. He got out of the first one with lots of line twists and some severe spins. The second was a little more scary as there were many lines wrapped around his neck and presumably over his pack. This was too close to the scenario from Lake Wales. Coupled with the uncertainty of the where the lines were, Sarge made the decision to become Edward Scissor Hands and/or play the scene from The Nagambie Hook Knife Massacre. He swore he only cut one line - and he was right. He cut this one. . . . . and that one . . . . . . . and those over there. He finally cut the last line and spat Pricey off on his new 80 ft2 Lightning. Nice chop and reserve ride. The only relief for Sarge was that the canopy was not his. It was Ben N's. Ralph P and Phil P were gracious enough to repair all the lines. They will be sending the invoice to Ben Nordkamp for fixing his canopy!
After a few video briefs and changing a few slots, we went up for another load and built a 23 way. The bottom dwellers (i.e the skinny people with small canopies that will build the bottom of the formation) went up and built a nice 18 way. They were still waiting for the base to get their collective sh _ _ together. Last load of the day for the base and the organizers decided to plan a 26 way. Several of us realised that 26 is actually bigger than 25. Which would make this jump a new record if we succeeded. Dypsy got onto Chris Gay's case and managed to convince him to nominate this jump. We went up and things just seemed to flow well. The Pac dropped the base out and was immediately followed by the Skyvan dropping the outer wings and lock-offs out. We exited at 14000 feet and built the 16 way by around 10000 feet. The ground crowd were cheering us on and willing the remainder of the formation to dock. Finally Jeff S and Steve F docked and the crowds went wild - both those in the formation and on the ground. Only after we landed did most of the participants learn that the jump had been nominated.
Steve Fitchett did camera and was a little nervous about grip presentation. He had to present a number of photo's and some video to the judges before the announcement came. Lindy Rochow - Williams is actually in attendance at the record attempt. The other two judges, Jenny Plummeridge and Kirstie Sinclair, were sent digital images via email and judged from home (Melbourne and Cessnock). Thanks to the judges for making themselves available. Yet another very important cog in the wheel that makes events like this a success. Finally the result came through:
Photo by Steve Fitchett - copies available at Fitchett Images after the event.
Some news and observations from this event:
Chris mentioned that the growth in Australian CRW has been significantly higher than the USA from 2007 until now. He was also very encouraged by the number of new participants, the overall skill level, and some of the natural talent out there. Again, the tutors and coaches that have run seminars and made equipment available over the years should be thanked for their efforts. Our state councils and the APF should also be thanked for providing resources and funding. Keep up the good work - and anyone who is interested in CRW, get along to a seminar or contact one of the organizers and they will be able to lead you into the right direction. Testament to the progress and personality of the record participants is the amount of time spent on the ground was followed by a new record in very quick time.