The Monkey Claw Free fly Team/School, based out of Skydive Cross Keys in Williamstown, New Jersey, just returned from Puerto Rico. Skydive Puerto Rico, located at the Humacao airport outside of San Juan, was the host of the 2nd Annual Free fall Festival. The festival was held from February 6 to the tenth and it was a huge success. The Monkey Claw Team arrived a few days prior to the start of the event to see old friends, explore the island and get in a little relaxation.
They were greeted at the airport by local skydivers Hector, Julio and Christie. After a half-hour drive to Humacao they arrived at the DZ. Already the wheels were turning and tents were being raised in anticipation of the coming skydivers headed for the boogie. Afterwards the team went to their hotel at Palmas Del Mar only a few minutes from the DZ.
Over the next few days the local skydiving community were gracious hosts and ample tour guides. On the list of attractions in Puerto Rico were El Yunque, a rain forest that is full of wild life, waterfalls, swimming holes and hiking trails. Another adventure was El Morro, a forbidding fortress in San Juan that was once used to protect the island from intruders.
One morning a chartered Caravan was used to access Culebra, a tiny island off the coast of Puerto Rico. The island is great for a day of rest and relaxation. The beaches are vast and semi-private so there is no trouble finding that perfect spot by the water. The water is a blue and warm and full of reefs and fish to gaze at while snorkeling off the beach.
Wednesday the boogie began. Skydivers from all over the globe made their way to the little Caribbean island for the festival. There were jumpers from the United States, England, Argentina, Chile and St. Thomas. Over 200 skydivers would register for the event by the end of the week.
John Eddowes from Skydive Cross Keys flew down only two of his growing fleet of aircraft. Thanks to the flying of John and another Cross Keys pilot, Rob Branch, skydivers were lifted to altitudes of 14,000 feet in a Super Otter and Super Sky van all week.
A surprise arrived on Friday as a Bell Helicopter arrived to give rides and jumps to all of the boogie goers. Skydivers were treated to a fantastic ride up the river and along the coast before exiting 7,000 feet above the DZ.
For RW jumpers Lyle Presse and Marc Cruse were available for load organizing and two attempts were made at breaking the Puerto Rico record over the weekend. The record was not broken but everyone learned a lot from the attempts and they are ready to break the record next year. Adrian Nicholas was available for load organizing and camera flying throughout the week.
For the free flyers, Monkey Claw was available with their staff of Glenn "Stuey" Newman, Tim Miller, Bert Navarette, Adam Rosen and Heath Richardson. Monkey Claw offered load organizing for all skill levels throughout the boogie. There were flocking dives, tracking dives, big ways, sit jumps and tube jumps. The five instructors also offered one-on-one coaching to those interested in improving their skill level in all orientations.
On the DZ there were food stands to satisfy even the hungriest skydiver. There were also two masseuses on site to soothe aching muscles. At night seminars were given on topics such as canopy flying and relative work skills. But the parties were even better.
Every night something was planned. Thanks to the work of Hector Flores and the many sponsors of the boogie there was plenty of free beer. One night the entire DZ made its was to the local Chili's Restaurant for food, drinks and to watch videos from that days skydiving. There were bonfires on the beach, pool parties, deejays and lots of good vibes.
Records were broken from day one. With over 200 registrants, making over 2300 skydives with over 120 loads and 12 helicopter jumps the boogie was a huge success. The added beauty of the island and the generosity of the local skydivers were an added bonus. If you did not make your way to Puerto Rico for the first two Free fall Festivals, mark your calendar for February 2003, because it is only going to get bigger and better.
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