85 Way CRW World Record Set

    A view like no other - until you have flown up next to 81 multi-colored parachutes, all hooked into formation, flying briskly
    through the sky, its hard to explain the sheer beauty of it all. A diamond of parachutes, more than 250 feet tall, weighing in
    at over 8 tons, yet flying quickly and effortlessly through the sky. Its large enough to show up on local air traffic radar,
    visible for miles around - yet consisting merely of 85 individuals flying through the sky as one. You fly up next to it, watching
    people dock, encouraging them on while waiting your turn. Listening to radio calls as the size the formation has built to is
    being announced. Flying in flat and level from the side, coming to a stop right before you dock on the formation, and inching in
    the last few feet. Looking across the formation at your mirror image, and seeing them docked and flying well. Knowing that the
    formation is of record size, feeling the breeze in your hair and the wind on your face, Waiting for the starburst call, and
    shortly after break off the air is filled with whoops and hollers as everyone can now celebrate. The feeling of accomplishment on
    finishing the 85 way on our first attempt. Especially knowing that their were a few jumpers on the load, who albeit very
    skilled, had never been on anything as large as a 25-way. The awe-inspiring view of seeing a formation this size - especially for
    the first time - is something that is so difficult to explain. Pictures just don't do it justice.
    The view from the inside would be just as spectacular. After you dock, people continue to dock all around you. Every direction
    you look is a parachute, and everywhere you look is a person who is arched and looking up. Hearing the radio calls, knowing that
    the formation is building well, mentally cheering those on who have yet to dock. Absorbing all of the waves and bumps that pass
    through the formation as it builds, yet knowing without looking when each point of the diamond comes on as you can feel the
    formation lean over and fly. Looking over your head at a tower of canopies as far as the eye can see - with nowhere to run to if
    things go wrong.
    In the daytime, the formation glowed in the sunshine - so many bright colors in stark contrast to the ground below. Flying so fast
    in the center that the outsides are cupped back. Anyone who got behind would not be catching back up. On the sunset loads, the
    colors all fade in the dusk sky, silhouetted against the fading sun, the local lakes still shimmering on the ground. All canopies
    look the same, making the formation appear whole, instead of 81 individual pieces... That is until the starburst call occurs,
    and all grips are dropped and the formation looks like fireworks going off in the sky.
    It takes teamwork to build something as spectacular as what was built over Lake Wales last week. Everyone must have a good jump,
    no malfunctions, or miscues can occur or the formation won't build. Break offs are carefully coordinated, with everyone leaving at
    their assigned times, so that everyone can separate safely from the diamond just built. Much gear was swapped without thought -
    canopies weights, connector links among many other things were freely traded as needed because everyone knew we had to work
    together. Rusty Vest worked tirelessly doing repairs and repacks as need be over the week, as did other riggers. We had a whole
    team of people just working on getting the radios working well and set up correctly so that everyone could hear as needed. The
    video crew did a great job of filming all of the dives, both big and small, and sharing with us the film for debriefs. Our
    pilots did a great job as well - unlike free fall loads where all planes fly in formation, our planes fly by at different
    altitudes, needing to match not only the altitude of the ever-sinking formation but also while maintaining a slow airspeed for
    Our leaders did a good job encouraging that teamwork - having wings work with their teams so everyone knew how to fly, to having
    safety seminars so everyone knew how best to handle emergencies. They kept the team encouraged while fighting issues at the
    beginning of the week, and engineered a beautiful formation that was so solid it was never in danger of having problems.
    The formation seemed to grow more solid the larger it built, leaving no doubt in anyone's minds that a 100 way will soon be built.
    It was only in 2002 that the organizing committee - Chris Gay, Mike Lewis, Dave Richardson, Chris Balisky, and added for this event,
    Brian Pangburn broke the then world-record of a 53 way with a 57. That had stood since '96, and since 2002, we have grown the
    record by 50%.
    The dives are carefully engineered - from a VERY fast base - the top canopies are using micro-line, trailing pilot chutes, and
    removable sliders, to faster, more heavily loaded canopies down the center line, to smaller canopies on the outside - this
    formation was designed for speed, and fast it did fly. When building a formation of this size, everything from canopy size, to
    body height to wing-loading to jumpsuit style must be considered to keep the formation flying well. If the formation
    slows down, the outside canopies - those who only have one grip taken on them - can start to out fly the formation and when they go
    too far forward, can wrap around the formation. We've never built a formation this wide before - it was only in 2003 that
    we added the first row 9 wings, and now we've added row 10's.
    It takes experience among the participants as well - the pilot of the formation - Mike Lewis - had to step down from piloting for
    personal reasons, but Chris Gay stepped up to the plate, donning 90 pounds of lead plus gear so that he could jump the 193 up top
    and keep the formation flying fast. 5 second splits were what were needed in between docks to have time for us to build this,
    and people came through. Steve Sassetti and Liz Godwin, both with ankle injuries, continued to jump because they were
    needed on the record. Steve hobbled to the airplane on crutches while taking the ashes of two of our former CRWmates - Scott
    Fiore and Joel Zane, on the record with them. They died in a skydiving accident the previous year, but they flew on the record
    with us.
    The week was a spectacular one - skydivers and old friends coming from all over the globe - from as far away as Australia and
    Russia. Listening to Aussie Sarge yell "Arch and look up" into the radio in our ears all week created quite a lot of chuckles
    and a lot of imitations. I love the Australian Cane Toad I now have mounted on my rig, although I'm a bit hesitant about the
    Vegemite I received as well. After Sarge was goaded into trying a southern delicacy - pickled pigs feet - he got his revenge by
    forcing Chris to eat some Vegemite on toast. Judging by the expressions on their faces, I think Chris got the better deal!
    Watching Chiara, a skydiver tot who is everyone's favorite, run around with Eugene's blow up doll was a source of great amusement.
    The rubber band fight at the banquet where some of the judges seemed to be facing the most abuse luckily didn't sour them on us as
    they still awarded us the record the next day. Remembering Marylou spraying champagne on everyone as her very poor poker face gave
    away the fact that we had gotten the record. The celebration Friday night wasn't enough to keep us from breaking a record the
    next day, but luckily for us, we didn't have to jump on Sunday, as the party at Ernie's house Saturday night probably would
    have. Watching wrap videos, drinking beer, and eating well provided a spectacular celebration to end a most festive week.
    The fun, the views, and the friendships are things never to be forgotten at an event like this. So much knowledge is spread when
    you get a hundred of the best CRWdogs from around the globe together to accomplish a common goal.
    Click here for more Photos and Videos of the Record

    By faulknerwn, in Events,

    Bridge Day, 2004

    More than 390 BASE jumpers made 645 jumps from the 876’ tall New River Gorge Bridge during a rainy 25th annual Bridge Day celebration in Fayetteville, West Virginia. The October 16th silver celebration of Bridge Day allowed for legal BASE jumps for six hours from the world's second longest single arch bridge, although a mid-day storm halted jumping for approximately 25 minutes.
    Bridge Day continues to be the largest extreme sports event in the world held on the third Saturday in October every year in Fayetteville, West Virginia. Bridge Day is unique in that it is the only day visitors may walk across the bridge, BASE jumpers can parachute from the railing, and rappellers are allowed to descend and ascend fixed ropes. Bridge Day is West Virginia's largest one-day festival and is rated one of the top 100 festivals in North America. Despite the weather, the crowd was estimated at 75,000 to 100,000 this year.

    Four jumpers were transported to the hospital, but only one sustained injuries requiring further care. Several rappellers dangling below the bridge required rescues during the high winds that hampered the event at approximately 1:30pm. "Despite the fact that I broke a few bones, spent most of the jumping hours in the ER, was pummeled by the storm that came through when I finally did get back onto the bridge, and the fact that this year had the worst weather out of all four years I've been to Bridge Day, I still had the most fun", reported California jumper Russel Metlisky. "This year was the first year I really felt like I was a real part of the BASE jumping community. And that's what Bridge Day seems to be about, the people…oh yeah, and some jumping as well."
    Russel, paralyzed in a motorcycle accident in 2000, was awarded paraplegic BASE #1 by Nick Di Giovanni during the post-jump party. A special exit bar was constructed by the Vertical Visions crew so that Russel could sit at the end of the exit ramp, then hang from the bar before releasing himself into a 2-3 second stowed free fall.
    BASE jumpers have jumped from the New River Gorge Bridge every year since the first Bridge Day on November 8, 1980 (the only exception being the cancellation of Bridge Day 2001 shortly after 9/11). The first Bridge Day saw five skydivers making BASE jumps from the bridge in the early days of the sport of BASE jumping. Over the years, Bridge Day became the place for thousands of skydivers to make their first BASE jump.

    The average Bridge Day 2004 BASE jumper was 35 years old and had performed 64 BASE jumps and 1199 skydives. Approximately 11.1% of all participants were female. Nearly 100 jumpers made their first BASE jump at Bridge Day this year with the help of free first BASE jump courses, packing classes, and the guidance and knowledge shared by hundreds of experienced jumpers.
    Most jumpers fell from the bridge for 3-4 seconds before deploying their parachute. The next 20-30 seconds were spent floating down to the designated landing zone located within a National Park (New River Gorge National River). Every year, the National Park Service issues a permit to land parachutes on park property during Bridge Day. BASE jumping in all other National Parks is illegal, although recent efforts to change decades of rubber stamped denials are underway by groups such as the Alliance of Backcountry Parachutists.
    A $250 cash purse, along with a variety of other gifts donated by sponsors around the world, was up for grabs for the annual Bridge Day accuracy contest. Competition rules required jumpers to hit the accuracy pad without falling to the ground or they would not be scored. Brian Daniska from Ohio took first place, Todd Griswald from Arkansas came in second, and Anthony White from Canada was third.
    Notable jumps include those made from a boom truck basket, a scissor lift, and the popular 16’ commercial aluminum diving board. The Red Bull Air Force performed two "rope swing" stunts where one jumper swung underneath a second jumper who was already under canopy. The first jumper would then cutaway from the rope and deploy his own parachute, which got the crowd pretty excited.
    Triax Productions, who filmed the Bridge Day event for a soon to be released DVD, premiered their "Continuum II" video at the post-jump party in front of hundreds of jumpers. The Bridge Day 2004 DVD will be available by the end of the year at www.triaxproductions.com . Earlier in the week, the Bridge Day 2004 BASE VideoFest awarded "Continuum II" by Triax Productions with first place, followed by a "Mexico BASE" video by Adrenaline Exploits (Jay Epstein). Third place went to Robert Pecnik of Phoenix Fly and his amazing BASE wingsuit and track pants footage.

    Bridge Day was broadcast on live TV to over 1 million households throughout West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio - perhaps the first live broadcast of a BASE jumping event in the US. While some technical glitches kept wireless cameras on jumpers and at other vantage points from airing, the broadcast was revolutionary in that it focused on the technical aspects of BASE jumping. Interviews explaining the components of a BASE rig were shown to educate the public. Extensive jumping footage provided by Vertical Visions and Red Bull started and ended many commercial breaks, adding to the experience. A condensed one-hour version of the Bridge Day 2004 Live TV broadcast will air on the Outdoor Life Network (OLN) on November 12 from 12:30-1:30pm EST and on December 9 from 12-1pm EST in front of 60 million households across the US.
    "This year, BASE jumpers battled their way through some of the worst weather since 1992, my first year here", reports Jason Bell, Bridge Day 2004 BASE Jumping Co-organizer. "However, we still got to jump for the majority of the day, everyone got to jump at least once (one jumper made five jumps), and it was definitely my favorite Bridge Day from both a jumping and organizing point of view". Jason was assisted this year by his wife Jennifer, co-organizer Bill Bird from Canton, Ohio, and more than 75 staff members.

    Vertical Visions’ plans for next year include the expansion of Bridge Day beyond the standard six hours, in addition to a device that will permit spectators to pull a lever and drop a jumper from a long plank, similar to a dunking booth. "We’re going to charge spectators to pull the lever and give the money to charity. Now, I just have to figure out how to make it", reports Jason.
    For those considering the jump next year, registration for Bridge Day 2005 starts on July 1, 2005 at www.bridgeday.info .

    By base428, in Events,

    2nd Annual Royal Gorge Go Fast Games

    DENVER, CO (November 5, 2004) – The Royal Gorge Go Fast Games returned to the world’s highest suspension bridge in Canon City, Colorado October 8-10th, to showcase athletes in B.A.S.E. jumping, "highlining" and big wall speed climbing – the only event in the world that combines these breathtaking extreme sports. The invitation-only event drew athletes from around the world – including Germany, Switzerland, Brazil, Spain, Australia and the United States.
    Highlights of the three-day Royal Gorge Go Fast Games included hundreds of B.A.S.E. jumps and aerials from the world’s highest suspension bridge and the world’s longest single span tram; as well as "highlining" demonstrations by Outside Magazine’s 2003 Man of The Year, Dean Potter, as he walked thin nylon webbing stretched between two cliffs, with nearly a thousand feet below.

    "The Go Fast Games are the ultimate in extreme sporting exhibition/competition, and this year’s event was a huge success for both the athletes and event organizers," said Heather Hill, VP Communications, Go Fast Sports & Beverage Co. "The Go Fast Games provided spectators a site they wouldn’t see anywhere else, and offered the athletes a venue like no other in the world at the Royal Gorge Bridge."
    New to the Go Fast Games for 2004, the big wall speed climbing competition brought some of the top names in climbing to race up the 1,000-foot pre-set route for the $2000 cash purse. 1st Place and $1,000 went to Team Mad Rock (Brian Gallant and Michael Johnson) of Colorado Springs, with a time of one hour and twelve minutes. Only one minute behind, 2nd Place and $600 went to Team Go Fast! (Clayton Reagan and Wayne Crill) of Ft. Collins, and Team Sharp End Publishing (Alan Lester and Fred Knapp) took home $400 in 3rd Place with a time of one hour and twenty-two minutes. The course record was set by teammates Dean Potter and Adam Stack with a time of 42 minutes, 13 seconds; however, their "simul-climbing" (i.e. not changing lead climbers) disqualified them from the standings.

    Requests for invitations to the 3rd Annual Royal Gorge Go Fast Games are already in demand as athletes once again hail the world’s tallest span bridge as a "must-do jump. " This year’s venue accommodated three times as many B.A.S.E. jumpers as last, and event organizers are positive that "The Games" will continue to grow. "Safety was clearly the No. 1 priority—dangerous jumpers were reprimanded making the atmosphere responsible and non-competitive, " said BASE jumper David Royer.
    "This is one of the holy grails of B.A.S.E. jumping," says Chris Pope - an eight-year B.A.S.E. jumping vet that said this year’s opportunity to jump the Gorge was too good to pass up.
    To view more photos from the 2nd Annual Royal Gorge Go Fast Games, see Mark Lichtle’s Gallery on dropzone.com.
    What is B.A.S.E. jumping?
    B.A.S.E. jumping is an acronym for the four types of fixed objects that are utilized for these foot-launched skydives: (B)uilding, (A)ntenna, (S)pan, and (E)arth. Unlike parachuting from airplanes, B.A.S.E. jumpers typically use only one parachute, as the generally much lower altitudes don’t normally leave time to use a reserve parachute. The Go Fast Games feature B.A.S.E. jumping from the Royal Gorge Bridge and from the world’s longest single-span aerial tram.

    What is Big Wall Climbing?
    Big Wall Climbing is the most complex, endurance-testing discipline in the sport of rock climbing, and generally climbers will take several days to ascend a wall – carrying all supplies with them and spending multiple days and nights on the largest rock faces in the world. The Go Fast Games feature Big Wall Speed Climbing, where teams ascend the steep faces of the Royal Gorge in record time, and in plain view for the spectators to see.
    What is Slackline/Highline?
    Slackline is a fusion of balance, strength, and concentration. From its beginning in the early 1980s as a way for climbers to hone these skills it has become a sport of its own. Slackline can be done thousands of feet off the ground, or 3 feet off the ground – it is similar to walking a tightrope, but without the use of a weighted bar for balance. The Go Fast Games feature highline demonstrations over 1,000 feet above the Arkansas River.

    About Go Fast Sports & Beverage Co.
    Go Fast Sports & Beverage Co. is the producer of Go Fast Energy Drink and Go Fast Sports Apparel. Headquartered in Denver, Colorado, Go Fast is involved with sports and athletes of all kinds – from triathlon, parachuting and mountain biking, to B.A.S.E. jumping, climbing, skier-x, motocross, kiteboarding and more. For more information, please visit www.GoFastSports.com , call 303.893.1222 or email [email protected]

    By weegegirl, in Events,

    The 300 Way - From a pilot's point of view

    Going to fly on the 2002 300-way Record Attempts was something I had to do. When it was announced that the attempts were being moved from Brazil to Eloy, AZ, I started thinking how I could work my way on. I was a pilot on the record 246-way in 1998 at Skydive Chicago and the thought of getting into an aircraft formation larger than the 12 aircraft formation we used was very inviting.
    I originally asked Pat Patton (Skydive Arizona Director of Flight Operations) if he needed any more experienced formation pilots to fly on the big-way. He told me they had enough pilots for SDAs aircraft but that Roger Nelson might need a pilot for his aircraft that was going to participate. I immediately went to Roger and in about a 30 second conversation I was slated to fly on the attempts. The next part was getting permission from work at my airline to take a leave of absence during the attempts. Not an easy thing since most coveted vacation periods are during the month of December. But, after some pleading (begging) they granted my request and I was fully confirmed for going to Eloy.
    December 6th. I showed at Skydive Chicago early in the morning at 3am. Sorry Donovan. Donovan had the plane all gassed up and loaded with what we would need during the week. Extra oil cans, spare parts, and log books. I threw my stuff on and met up with Skydive Arizona pilot John Schulz who was also headed to Eloy to fly on the attempts. The weather looked great for a night flight and air traffic was light. Only the occasional check hauler or FedEx flight was heard. With a quick refuel in Salinas, KS at Flower Aviation (good cookies) and then again in Las Vegas, NM we were arriving on the doorstep of Skydive Arizona about noon. While inbound I heard N220EA (Roger's other plane) arriving ahead of us from Florida. They didn't have as much luck on weather as I did. They had to go through some not so nice thunderstorms in Florida and Texas. After arriving, the first order of business was to get the planes jump ready with oxygen and to take the hard doors off. Having flown jump Otters for so long it always looks funny when we travel with the regular doors on. Something is just not quite right with the picture.

    Friday night we had our first pilot meeting. I looked around the room and we had six pilots who had previous world record, large formation flying experience. Doug Evans, Eric (skyvan), Steve Stewart, John (Johnny Long Spot) Schulz, Jason (Skydive Oregon), and myself had flown on the 1998 record or 2000 attempts at Skydive Chicago. On Saturday we added Karl from Skydive Elsinore and that brought the total to seven pilots with previous big way formation flying experience from the 1998 or 2000 attempts. This was starting out to be an excellent group of aviators. Then around the room we had Geoff Ferrington from Kapowsin; Steve Boyd from Skydive Spaceland; Sven from Skydive Dallas; Lance from Skydive Oregon; "Stretch" from Lodi, CA; Rob from Perris, CA; and Sean Hill from Skydive Arizona. I figured this was going to be a cake walk right? Wrong! We were going to have just as steep a learning curve as the jumpers if this record was to be successful.
    Saturday started with five ship formations so that we could get our feet wet again in formation flying. The skydivers used this time to get used to each other as well. We rotated through the group of aircraft so that all planes would get a chance to fly at least one high load to 20,000 feet to test the oxygen system. We didn't want to find a problem on the first actual 14 aircraft formation. That would be a very expensive abort. We worked out the minor issues of aircraft placement during jump run and logistics for turning on, regulating, and turning off the oxygen system while in flight. Even though it was not necessary, we also practiced the formation takeoff using both the runway and the parallel taxiway like we would come Monday morning. It was almost like a drag race. I took off on the left side most of the time and it was a bit surreal to see the scenery zooming by but this one object next to you didn't seem to move at all. Climbing to altitude was a hoot as we all wanted to show how excellent pilots we were and how tight we could fly. This, of course, led to the word coming back that some aircraft were TOO close and needed to loosen up a bit because jumpers didn't have much room to maneuver down to the formation. No problem. We were there to put the aircraft wherever they were needed.

    The picture on the right was taken during a five-plane formation after I had to switch from my normal slot of left left trail to right right trail. When the jumpers boarded they got on the wrong planes. Three aircraft had to switch slots in flight. Everyone kept cool and we just talked it out so that we could all move around and get in position. I'll never forget the look on the closest jumper's face when I asked what plane they were supposed to be on. She said, "Right, right trail!" I told her "But you're on the left, left trail!" She looked confused so I told her to sit up and look my front window as to where we were (photo on the left). She looked out and said "Oh ****!" No problem. That's what we're here for. We'll put the aircraft where you need them.
    Saturday and Sunday went very well as we worked out the bugs and the organizers got to see how we performed in our slots. They were still making their final decisions on who was going to fly where in the 14-ship formation. As to how they arrived at their final decisions I really don't know. But, Sunday night we had the briefing and I was assigned left, left, left, left, left trail. Jump 2 was my call sign and Otter "B" was my jumper assigned name for the aircraft. While it may seem obvious to any pilot that one aircraft's paint job is very different from the other, the jumpers needed a way to positively identify the aircraft they were supposed to be on. Red vinyl letters were put on the nose area of each aircraft so the jumpers could easily identify it. We couldn't afford to have aircraft misloaded during the 14 ship formations.
    Monday. Game Day. It was time to show everyone how good an aviator we all thought we were. Well, we just about got our booties handed to us. The plan was to have the first five aircraft (skyvan and four otters) fly your typical 45-degree angle down and to the side formation. But then the formation was to straighten out, as it got wider. They wanted us to fly with the nose of our aircraft even with the tail of the plane we were following. It is almost a line abreast formation and most of us have never had to fly a formation this way before. Another effect of this type of formation was that when we turned the formation on the way to altitude the aircraft that were on the inside of the turn had to slow down considerably. The wider you got the shorter the turn radius had to be to stay in position without shooting past the lead aircraft. Well, when you consider that we were flying at max gross weight for takeoff (11,600 pounds) and we were flying in the thin air above 20,000 feet there isn't exactly a whole lot of performance margin available. Any little bobble or over controlling was quickly revealed and amplified as the wave went down the line to the outer edges of the formation. Several times the aircraft on the inside of the turn were having to make large power changes to keep from shooting past the lead and yet not fall out of the formation. Making up altitude and distance behind the formation is very difficult at altitude.
    In the first night's brief I made mention that we were NOT the show. We were not to be noticed by the jumpers. We were necessary to get them to altitude but if the aircraft formation became a distraction there was going to be no record. Well, on this first day of the 14 aircraft flying together, we were noticed. It was a rough ride and a distraction to hear the engines spool up and down over and over. We pre-briefed each load and debriefed after we put in our fuel and oxygen orders to the ground support. From the first to the last load of the day we made major improvements in technique. But we still weren't satisfied. The goal is to fly NORDO (NO RaDiO). When everyone is doing their job and flying smoothly the formation frequency will be silent. And we needed some work to achieve this goal. The end pilot meeting was very spirited. We are all professionals and we are all perfectionists. A lot of good things came out of that meeting and I will leave it at that.

    This is the view out of my window. As you can see, there is whole heck of a lot of metal up there. From left to right the aircraft are Skydive Chicago 220EA, Skydive Oregon OX, Perris Valley "Shark Air", the other Skydive Oregon Otter, Skydive Arizona Skyvan, Lodi's Otter PV, Skydive Dallas "The Short Bus", and Kapowsin's Otter. Remember, there are SIX planes not shown in this photo including mine. And you can see how wide we get on the inside of the turn being so far on the left side of the formation. Each successive load got better through the climb.

    My plane captain (jumper in charge and go between for the pilot and skydivers) was Kate Cooper. For those who don't know her, Kate has been a skydiving organizer for a long time. She was one of the organizers behind the Jump For the Cause all women's large formation skydive world record in 1999 and 2002. She sat in my right seat to operate the oxygen system and to watch the other aircraft in the formation. She was a tremendous help. It isn't easy flying a line abreast formation while sitting on the left side of the aircraft. You have to look through a small site view (window on far side of aircraft) and still pick up on the cues that tell you when you are drifting closer or farther away from the aircraft on your right. What made it easier was to go and fly referenced to one of the aircraft in the base 5-plane formation and just leave a wide enough gap that the other aircraft could come up in their slot if they happened to fall behind for a bit. This greatly reduced the stress on us and dampened the waves that we were experiencing in the beginning of the week. Kate did an excellent job calling out the other aircraft's positions when they fell behind since she had a good view from the right seat. Thanks Kate. The picture on the right was taken just after we built the first complete 300 person freefall formation. And yes, I was done flying for the day before drinking that beer.

    The record formation: What can I say? It was perfect. It was the last load of the day on Thursday the 12th. The last load of the day had been a problem for us because of sun angle and jump run direction. So I guess it was only fitting that this was the load we accomplished the impossible. It was the world record and it was a perfect spot. Way to go Eric! For jump pilots out there, we weren't running into the winds aloft for the lowest groundspeed possible. We were actually running downwind because of the sun angle. The crowd on the ground got an eye full to say the least. And when they all opened the people on the ground could hear the cheering because they all knew they had just done it. Norman Kent got on the ground cheering and telling people that he didn't see anyone low and everything looked complete. Pat Patton called up to the aircraft as we were still descending and said "I think we're drinking champagne tonight boys!" Oh yah! That only meant one thing. FLY BY!!!!!! We descended with the formation intact rather than splitting it as usual. We looked like a big flock of geese headed south for the winter. My girlfriend Renee took these photos. I noticed something very striking though. The picture with the formation headed towards the camera is impressive. But the picture going away just seems to show how big this formation really was. We pulled off the impossible formation to build the world's largest freefall formation with a perfect spot. And yes, that is smoke coming out of the otter on the far left. It's intentional so don't worry. In top photo I am the second from the right. And in the bottom photo I would be the second from the left.
    Thursday night there was a lot of celebrating as you can imagine. The plan was to come back at noon on Friday to go for bigger than 300. Only 2 people did not show from the dive the night before. The willingness was there. The additional jumpers were there and ready. The pilots were standing around waiting. But the organizers decided that in the interest of safety it was best that they not make any jumps that day. There was a bit too much partying the night before to put up an attempt. So, the jumpers did more dirt dives (practicing on the ground) because they are free and the rest of us scattered. I got to make a couple of fun jumps myself and relax. We certainly did need it.

    Saturday came with the intention of breaking the 300-way record. But you could tell there was a change in the atmosphere. I knew the edge had been dulled a bit even if people wanted to do it. The 328-way potentially was going to be harder to make than the 300-way. Getting that many people focused and staying focused together is a darn near impossible thing. That's why the 300-way has stood unbroken for so long. Many have tried and records have been broken along the way from the 200-way set in the early 90s. "If it was easy then no one would want it because everyone would have it." -Roger Nelson. That's why we keep coming back to this record because it IS hard. Logistically, physically, and mentally, this is one of the hardest things to do in aviation. It requires so many people doing things perfectly.
    Go to DiverDriver.com for more jump pilot information.

    By admin, in Events,

    131-way Women's World Record

    What a day. The skies were patchy and it looked like it was going to be good weather for us. I arrived at the dz a bit late; as I walked in a couple people stopped to let me know that we were on a 15 minute call for a full gear dirt dive. We dirt dived a 132 way formation for the first jump.
    How many ways can you screw up on one skydive? I discovered at 1000 feet that I'd forgotten to turn my ProTrack on; at least I remembered the Cypres . Climb out signal was given. I was in the door before I remembered to pull my goggles down. Fast exit, the picture was a bit different than normal. I was overamping and commited a major "red zone" violation - instead of approaching my slot on a direct radial, I came in high and over another jumper. Managed to get into my slot and pick up grips without affecting anyone else or wasting too much time. The dive didn't complete; another jumper had gone way low on her approach. I blew it again on landing - ended up landing the wrong direction. Luckily there was no traffic close to me. Just to top it off... I landed feet, knees, face.
    Photo: Jump Run Productions
     Jump For The Cause
     Shannon Embry
    Daily Updates:
     Day 6 - 10/19/2002

     Day 5 - 10/18/2002

     Day 4 - 10/17/2002

     Day 3 - 10/16/2002

     Day 2 - 10/15/2002

     Day 1 - 10/14/2002
    I was sure that I would get cut after that. I went directly to the team room after dropping my gear and checking in, mentally kicking myself the whole way. Dropped my helmet off and was headed out when my plane captain, Linda (hotamaly), came in and asked if I was okay. I told her what I'd done and that I was sure they were going to cut me.
    While hanging around waiting (and stressing), I heard that the girl who'd gone low got cut. I kept waiting for one of the organizers to come tap me on the shoulder... but lucky for me that didn't happen. Linda came out from the captain's meeting and told me I was still on.
    Out to the landing area in full gear for another dirt dive. We were 131 strong. Mary SantAngelo - a breast cancer survivor and a wonderful woman - came to the center and called all the other survivors on the load to join her. We gave them a round of applause, then Mary's mom came to the center. She asked us to get the record, then blessed us with holy water. Even the non-religious of us were very touched.
    After our now ritual chant - "Right here. Right now. This skydive. My personal best" - we headed to the aircraft. E plane was quiet and focused on the climb to altitude. We all wanted this really bad.
    Out the door and the picture was perfect. I made a sweet approach to my slot and docked on Charlene's leg and Rhonda's wrist softly. There was a bit of tension (okay, quite a bit of tension) on my left leg, so I was damn near tracking to keep myself in my slot. Looking at Kate's butt I could see the formation building quietly on the other side in my peripheral vision. It felt and looked really good!
    Clean break off, landed in the far field and starting yelling. Picked up my canopy and ran to the nearest girl for a hug. The bus picked us up and headed to the landing area where we could see the entire group gathering. It was a loud bus ride; we all were sure that we had done it this time.
    Sure enough. The bus unloaded us in the grass and we joined our sister's in hugs, tears, laughter, smiles and a lot of whoooo hoooo's. Rumor had it that we'd held it for around 10 seconds! We gathered for pictures, then headed across the runway to the packing area.
    Spectators and other jumpers lined the fence and both sides of the sidewalk. They knew we'd gotten it too. I saw Darryld, a load organizer at Perris that I've jumped with quite a bit this year, standing along the fence; went over to give him a hug. As I turned to walk to the sidewalk I saw my brother, his girlfriend and my niece Reynee. Hugs all around, then I asked Reynee if she wanted to walk in with me. Carried her and my canopy halfway down the sidewalk, smiling and enjoying the congratulations.
    We broke for lunch while the judges confirmed the record. They were not only timing it, they also were looking for any broken grips or jumpers in the wrong slot. The official confirmation from the judges was that we'd done it - the new FAI women's world record formation was a 131 woman formation held for 10.73 seconds.
    I don't think I've ever given and received so many hugs! My cheek muscles are still sore today from the big grin I was wearing - and I still catch myself smiling every time I think about it.
    We brought all of our sisters back on the load for the final jump of the day - a 135 way. Most of us were worn out after celebrating, but we all dug deep and brought back the energy that we'd been jumping with all week. Breaking our own records would be sweet!
    After the dirt dive we headed over to the hangar where they'd arranged aircraft and a golf cart for the taping of a short segment for Good Morning America (if you get it, watch for it Monday morning ). The segment may be short, but it seemed like I was on my knees forever while they taped it. Finally we were sent to our aircraft.
    We had to rearrange our seating in E plane with the addition of our two sisters. There was a bit of confusion as we got seating and oxygen lines sorted out. The rest of the ride to altitude was quiet as we all focused on doing our jobs and breaking our own records.
    This dive was basically over very high when a girl went low on her approach and couldn't get back up. I didn't see the video but I heard that she was the only one out - we were soooo close!
    After getting back to the packing area and checking in we were released. Lots of us headed to the bar for a celebratory drink. The energy was still high on the dz; everyone was still smiling and congratulating each other.
    The official closing ceremonies were held at 6 pm by the pool. Judy Celaya, FAI judge, gave us our official confirmation of the record. The organizers, Kate, Tony, Brad and Mallory thanked everyone involved in putting together such an awesome event. We raised almost US$400,000 for the City of Hope's new stereotactic biopsy room We raised awareness of breast cancer through the massive media coverage And we set four new records in only 13 jumps together - the Perris dz largest formation record, the California state largest formation record, the Guiness women's world record formation and the FAI women's world record formation.
    Kate congratulated all of us, and went on to tell us that we were the best group of big way jumpers she'd ever jumper with. We built and held the FAI record formation on our 13th jump together - that is an awesome achievement.
    Dinner was served, partying was in full effect. We all celebrated hard.
    So that's it! JFTC 2002 was a great success despite the weather gods attempts to keep us down. I had an amazing week; this was truly one of the high points of my life and is something that I will always remember, treasure and be very proud of.
    Once again, my thanks go out to each and every one of you who've supported me the past ten months. Without you I would not have been a part of this incredible event. I am humbled and deeply touched by your support and belief in me.
    I also would like to thank Kate Cooper and Tony Domenico. Without their support, caring and teaching I would not have been on these dives.
    My personal thanks also go out to the JFTC organizers, staff and volunteers; to the Perris staff - from the pilots and loaders to manifest to the bar and restaurant, everyone was incredibly supportive and helpful; to the spectators and skydivers who came out to cheer us on; and most especially to my 134 sky sisters.
    What more can I say? Girls kick ass!
    Pull & Flare,

    By admin, in Events,

    Second Annual Chicks Rock Boogie

    Last year, it all began with a great idea and it finished off as a completely successful event for all who participated. It was decided then that the Chicks Rock Boogie would remain on the books and continue to be hosted annually by Skydive Elsinore. The Chicks Rock Boogie, which takes place at Skydive Elsinore’s scenic dropzone in Southern California, is an event designed to have something for everyone – even the guys!
    Girls of all skill levels and disciplines are welcome to come fly together, participate in the festivities, and have some good ‘ol girly fun! Freeflyers to R-Dubbers, beginners to advanced, even first-time jumpers are invited to come out to do tandems.
    There will be four Load Organizers on the scene to help encourage the girls to join different types of loads. Two chicks will be organizing the freeflyers and two chicks will be organizing RW loads, all of whom will be putting dives of various skill levels together throughout the weekend. Last years’ Boogie concluded with numerous successful big-ways, as well as a noticeable improvement in all of the girls’ flying by the end of the event. The first-timers can experience the true spirit of skydiving and will be encouraged to see how women play such a major role in the skydiving community. Not to mention how much fun we always have! Hopefully, many will return and become members of our skydiving family as well.
    Elsinore’s First Annual Chicks Rock Boogie would not have been as great of a success without the support of our many sponsors and the ability for us to get the word out about the event. Last year, thanks to our sponsors, the hard work of our support team, and some publicity, women ended up coming from all over the country to join the fun and show their support. This year, the Second Annual Skydiving Chicks Rock Boogie has already started to grab the attention of our sponsors, our staff, and future participants, so it is now time to announce what is in the works for this October.
    Once again, there will be a special “girls only” package deal offered with an option to pre-register for additional savings. The package will consist of ten jump tickets, a long sleeve tee shirt adorning the Chicks Rock Boogie logo, lunch for two days at Elsinore’s Snack Shack, a Boogie Bag filled with cool stuff, a personal Boogie Identification Badge, free beer after sunset, and all of the festivities over the weekend are included as well. The package costs only $200 for pre-registrants. There will be a $25 boogie registration charge for those who sign up after September 12, 2002. First time tandems can pre-register and buy a package for only $180, which includes all of the goodies from the regular package, but replaces the 10 jump tickets with a tandem ticket instead. The $25 registration will also apply to tandems who sign up after September 12, 2002. Because the tee shirts were such a big hit last year, even with the guys, they will also be on sale at Ground Zero Paraphernalia, Elsinore’s on site gear store, for all to purchase as souvenirs. I still fly in mine all the time!
    Saturday evening’s festivities will be open to all who decide to come and join the fun. There will be dinner tickets on sale during the day on Saturday for those who wish to stick around Elsinore for dinner and festivities. Skydive Elsinore’s very own Chris Fiala will be our designated DJ for the night, spinning tunes once the sun goes down. Also, and back by popular demand, is our spectacular night demonstration, performed by a select group of our finest high performance canopy pilots. The night demo will take place at Elsinore’s swoop pond, appropriately named “The Abyss” (you’ll just have to see why for yourself). This awesome performance will mark the beginning of an evening filled with good music, dancing, a huge bonfire, and great vibes.
    On Sunday, we will hold our raffle and give away loads of sponsored prizes. Last years’ raffle included a mixture of everything, including T-shirts, Elsinore jump tickets, Pro Tracks, Jumpsuits, half off canopies, and a grand prize of half off a custom Infinity Container. Be sure to check back for updates regarding this years’ raffle. I am currently working on getting together the list of sponsors and prizes and I am sure that after the success of last years’ Chicks Rock Boogie, this year will bring out even more sponsors and cooler prizes.
    So stay tuned and keep a look out for more news about Skydive Elsinore’s Second Annual Chicks Rock Boogie coming this October 12 and 13, 2002. The tremendous success of last years’ event has the DZ crawling with enthusiasm to make this years’ even better!
    For details and information about the upcoming event, contact Skydive Elsinore at (909) 245-9939, check out their website at www.skydiveelsinore.com, or contact me directly at [email protected]
    For those interested in being a sponsor of Skydive Elsinore’s Second Annual Skydiving Chicks Rock Boogie, being hosted this October 12 & 13, 2002, please contact me at [email protected] for details.
    Photos by: Wyat Drewes (From the 1st Annual Skydiving Chicks Rock Boogie)

    By admin, in Events,

    Dropzone.com RW Record 10 Way

    March 2, 2002, Perris Valley Skydiving - BUZZZZZZZ!!! "Ack, stupid alarm... six a.m. on a Saturday, why did I even set the stupid thing? Oh yeah! Today's the day the California fruits and nuts are going to shatter the Dropzone.com RW record...."
    I roll out of bed and hop in the shower. When I climb out I can smell the fresh coffee brewing in the kitchen. Ah, coffee, can use a pot or so after a late Friday night helping to set up the new and improved Square One store on the Perris dz.
    Soon enough it's a little after 7, time to throw the gear in the car and get rolling; we're meeting at the Bombshelter at 8 am (who's idea was THAT?). Grab the digital camera and some extra clothes in case it's cold up there and out the door I go.
    It's a bit chilly still as I pull into the Perris parking lot a few minutes before 8. Linda (hottamaly) is unloading her car as I park. We both gather our gear and wander onto the dropzone. We drop our stuff on one of the tables near manifest and head down to the Bombshelter to wait for everyone to arrive.
    8 o'clock rolls around and we're hanging out; the dropzone.com regulars are slowly trickling in. By 8:30 there is quite a crowd gathered around the tables - skybytch (Lisa), hottamaly (Linda), Shark (Mark), ltdiver (Lori), keith (Keith), grasshopper (Aaron), michele (Michele), billvon (Bill), Viking (Arthur), SBS (Steve), Sebazz1 (Sebastian), gman (Gilman), quade (Paul), Albatross (Chris), cptnstratn (Steve), yahooLV (Kurt), chopchop (Roy), and SassyRodriguez (Aisha).
    The wind gods are threatening to mess with our plans, so after a quick briefing from Linda we head off to the creeper pad to dirtdive the first jump. Linda manifests us on the SkyVan as we all get our jumpsuits and circle up. After a couple of run throughs we all go get our gear on and head to the loading area.
    Perris' Super SkyVan rockets us to altitude; all of a sudden the red light is on and the tailgate is lifted open. The base lines up then slowly works their way to the edge, green light, GO! After a clean exit by the base everyone starts working their way into their slots. The formation built to 9 when an attempted power dock takes me out; the dive built to 11 by 6500' when a couple of the group decided to bail early.

    Winds are coming up but not too bad yet as we land. Across the runway we go and everyone gets packing; the winds are getting a bit stronger every minute and we want to go back up and try that again. We all gather around Linda - the last one left packing - and encourage her to hurry it up... for some reason she didn't appreciate that much... Michele is walking to the loading area all geared up for her first jump since October; we all give her a shout of encouragement. Linda finishes her pack job to a round of applause from the group and it's over to room G to watch the video.
    After a quick debrief we head out to the creeper pad to dirtdive the next one. Linda switches a couple of people in slots and then manifest announces that the whole dz is on wind hold. Sigh.
    An early lunch break it is then! Most of the group end up in the Bombshelter, and shortly after a disappointed Michele joins us - she had to ride the plane down because the winds came up.
    To our pleasant surprise the winds died off after about 45 minutes. Linda's off to manifest to get us on the next available load; the SkyVan is done for the day so we're on a 40 minute call for Gypsy Rose, one of Perris' fleet of three Super Otters. We dirt dive the new exit plan and the same dive and soon enough it's time to gear up again.
    The second dive is going much better. They pull a nice four way base off the Otter and everyone flies to their slots. The formation is buildng nicely with smooth, controlled docks; up to thirteen and one of the flakers goes low. Bummer! Grasshopper is doing his best to make it fourteen but everytime he comes in to dock he floats up. 4500' comes too soon; a 13 way that breaks the record by "Texas rules". We all land with smiles on our faces.
    The winds keep cooperating with us. We're in the video room debriefing the dive when we see Michele headed to the plane again - woo hoo! Several of the guys head to the door and give her the ultimate in encouragement - a B.A.!! After the debrief, Linda gets us on a quick call. We're losing Sebazz1; he's off to jump with his bachelor party friends from Monterey. Linda changes the formation to a 14 way, which makes for an interesting, fast dirt dive. We all say we've got it and hustle over to grab our gear so we can jam up the exit. The loader is staring us down as we all hurry to the plane.
    This dive doesn't go so well... The base funnels out the door. It rebuilds to three when one jumper drops in from above on top of chopchop. Linda hangs on to him and checks him out to make sure he's okay as the rest of us fly in. Break off comes soon enough for all of us this time!
    We land from that one and get packed up. chopchop and Sassy have decided to leave us to go do some freeflying; gman and sbs also decide to go off and do other things leaving us with a 10 way. A 30 minute call on Gypsy and we're dirt diving a whole new jump. Looking at the experience level on this one, Linda plans two points. We all are confident that we can do it right this time.
    Once again we're a minute or so late for the plane and the loader again gives us the evil eye. It's a relaxed ride to altitude in a cramped Otter, with several of the group geeking quade's camera hard. Jump run comes and a nice four way base comes off the plane. It quickly builds to a six way round with four flakers and Linda keys the second point - a ten way star that flies beautifully, even considering that we are all geeking each other (and quade above us) really hard! We did it! A two point 10 way, flown as dirt dived with everybody in!
    The video debrief is a happy place as we watch it several times and revel in our accomplishment.
    Linda pulls out the "records" - three ancient, scratched up albums (for you younger readers, "albums" are the forerunners of CD's; we also used to call them "records"). I hustle down to Square One to borrow a hammer... gonna smash that Texas record!! Which once Linda snapped it, I did with a vengeance - it was kinda dangerous being within about 4 feet of me for a few minutes there. Linda finished up by looking right into quade's camera and saying "Jumperpaula - it's time take off your shirt!" and we all head down to the Bombshelter to top the day off with some classic skydiver partying.
    The record holders - hottamaly, skybytch, ltdiver, Albatross, cptnstratn, Shark, billvon, YahooLV, Keith, and grasshopper. Video and stills by quade.
    All in all, it was a great day meeting, jumping and partying with the people we spend so much time "with" online in the Forums. Now it's time for jumpers in some other area of the world to get together and break our record so we have a good excuse to do this again!
     10 Way Record Photo Gallery
     Previous Record 8 Way

    By admin, in Events,

    Monkeys in Puerto Rico

    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.

    By admin, in Events,

    US Nationals 2000: The Big Picture, Part 2

    The overall tone of the US National Skydiving Championships 2000 changed overnight as Perris Valley continued to host its second week of competition. Smaller groups of competitors and a variety of disciplines made the meet more of a grab bag of styles and feelings. It was lower key, and the Perris staff did try to accommodate each of their specialized needs. The CRW community for once got tended to first. The first official freeflying event launched successfully with only a couple of hitches. However, it was the poorly attended freestyle and skysurfing events that organizers should take a closer look at with the intent that restructuring the whole Nationals schedule could possibly prompt higher participation in each, and all of the above.
    The canopy relative work community is truly a family unit. They support each other, gripe when feeling ignored or misunderstood, and generally, are a cheerful, relaxed group of skydivers. So when 4-way rotation took flight Monday morning of that second week, it would almost be called a blessing. The week was starting off with beautiful skies, open communication and a lot less pressure than the RW week.
    The defending National champions, the Wild Humans, literally flew circles around their competition. They ranked up 17 points in four of their first five rounds. In essence, they already neatly wrapped up the gold to be delivered to them later in the week, but the finals would be placed on hold. Knowing rain was forecast, and with the minimums already met for 4-way rotation, John DeSantis switched over to 8-way speed to get them into the air. Clean Leap and Perris Infinity were both able to punch out their full 8 rounds on Tuesday. The four other teams in 8-way speed got in 5 rounds apiece.
    By Thursday, when the meet was able to get off the ground again, it was a very diversified scene. The CRW dogs shifted to 4-way sequential, while 8 skysurf, 10 freestyle and 17 freefly teams geared up. Each discipline has such distinguishing rituals, names and dress code, it was truly an eclectic hodge-podge of parachute-packing sport enthusiasts.
    Taking a closer look at the skysurfing and freestyle events, one will note that there were never more than two to three US teams in any one class. That means any team that entered was guaranteed to medal. This situation shouldn’t be considered a good thing.
    Chris Rimple, the 1999 freestylist Nationals champion from Team Nitro, proposes a solution. "Try to imagine a Nationals where freestyle, skysurfing and freeflying were held first. For most of a week, all eyes would be focused on those events. Media attention always starts strong in that environment, and it wouldn’t falter, continuing straight through to (the highly participated) formation skydiving. Skydiving teams would be making training jumps, while freestylists, skysurfers and freeflyers were battling for positions on the podium, exposing more skydivers to these events. Add canopy formation, style and accuracy in the middle, and what do you have? A recipe for success and media attention."
    From an organizer’s perspective, starting with the larger and more challenging RW task may appear to be structurally sound; however, from a promotional stance, reversing the Nationals structure could have greater ramifications all around.
    A couple of other glitches plagued good intentions. Because of decisions made beforehand, the freestylists weren’t allowed to use the side-exit aircraft they normally utilize but had to use the allotted Skyvan.
    In addition, the freestyle, skysurfing and freeflying events all had to be hand-scored. Because the USPA failed to adopt the 2000 IPC changes in time, attending teams were competing under the 1999 rules, which uses a different scoring system and different compulsories than will be employed in next year’s World Meet, the very one competitors are qualifying for. The Pegasus scoring system by Omniskore had already been updated to keep abreast of these changes, but the bureaucracy and paperwork lagged behind. Ultimately, it was the competitors who were affected.
    These points aside, the Nationals staff saw that all the teams got put through all their paces as quickly as they could output their scores. By Friday and Saturday, the results were pouring out one after another.
    CRW 4-way sequential, which had started last, was actually the first to finish. The organizers didn’t want to switch gears on the CRW gang again, so they had the 6 teams fly all their rounds. Team Talon/Express proved to be tops all the way along and won the gold. Soul Purpose followed in second, and Lodi Express took the bronze.
    CRW 4-way rotation shaped up with absolutely no surprises. Wild Humans placed first, and Soul Purpose again proved to be solid performers and won the silver. Guest team, Demolition, came in third in points, but Lodi Express Rotation plugged away and took the bronze out of the 5 competing teams.
    It was the freefly segment that was both exciting and suspenseful. It took a three-year effort on the part of dozens of freeflyers, headed up by Omar Alhegelan and Kama Mountz, to even get this discipline onto the Nationals agenda. The freefly entourage had a respectable turnout with 11 Open and 6 Intermediate teams, competing in seven rounds with 45-seconds of working time. Rounds 1 and 5 were the compulsories, and the rest were open forum for their free routines.
    However, because the freeflyers were so protective of their original routines, they requested and were granted the privilege of not having their rounds shown on the DZTV. Only the posted scores gave the audience and fellow contenders an idea of how they were doing. The final results and showings didn’t even come in until after-hours in the Bombshelter Friday evening.
    So by the numbers, Arizona Freeflight gave the Flyboyz a run for their money. These two alternated ranks on the board right up to the end. However, the Flyboyz posted the highest score of the meet in the 6th round and moved into second. It was Freefly Circus, with their late tallied scores, (due to the fact that Olav Zipser and Mike Swanson were competing in other events), that breezed by the competition and grabbed first place.
    In the Intermediate freefly category, team Guano took first, Mirror Image second, and the Bomb Squad was third. Arizona Airspeed came in fourth. Craig Girard, having only won five golds the previous week, says, "It’s a whole different ballgame." But they didn’t bottom out.
    On the freestyle front, Team Nitro defended their champion status, with Craig Armine replacing Grant Hetherington as Rimple’s videographer. Z Crazy secured first in the Intermediate class. Both of the Skydive America teams took second in each category.
    In the women’s Open, the Flying Gelardis, went on to garner their first Nationals gold, having been the silver medallists in the ’98 Nationals. Axis 21 scored second in points but was a guest team, so it was Team Flew-id that took the silver. In women’s freestyle Intermediate, Free Radicals won. The Unsponsored Freestyle Team came in second and Freestyle Space Center took third.
    Perris Firestarter, with Tanya Garcia-O’Brien and her cameraman/husband Craig O’Brien, blew by the men in skysurfing, but competing officially in women’s Open, took first there, followed by Elsinore Boardwalk. CrossKeys Inferno won the gold in men’s Open and Skysurf Chicago the silver.
    Guest team, Evolution, posted the highest marks in men’s Intermediate skysurfing, but A2B were proud to officially grace the top podium. Proper Dose-Perris was the silver medallist and Perris Black Diamond rounded out the picture in third.
    Wrapping out, it was just over the two-week mark when the final competition load took off with 8-way speed on late Saturday morning. The gaps in the scoreboard were filled in, and Clean Leap, which built the fastest round in 39.12 seconds, took first overall. Perris Infinity performed well, but not their best, and came in second. Drought Busters scored the bronze.
    Nationals finished all rounds with one weather day to spare. There were no injuries, no official protests and the overall vibe was positive. Many greeted old friends and acquaintances from afar among the milieu. A few kinks in the competition still need to be worked out, but it certainly wasn’t due to lack of effort or heart. As Al Gramando, Eloy’s general manager, said in regard to the 2001 Nationals to be held at his drop zone, "Melanie (Conatser) is making my life difficult." The sign hanging over Perris Valley Skydiving’s entrance proclaims, "Home of the 2000 US Nationals Skydiving Championships." They are proud of their efforts and have good reason to be.

    By admin, in Events,

    US Nationals 2000: The Big Picture, Part 1

    For two weeks in October, the Perris Valley corridors filled with hundreds of competitors trying to leave their mark in the sky and on the scoreboards at the U.S. National Skydiving Championships 2000. For fourteen days, it was the tag-team efficiency of the Perris staff that overcame the stubborn weather patterns that threatened to wrestle the meet to the ground. In the end, there were many historic firsts to be proud of at this year’s competition. It was the first year freeflying was produced as an official event. It was the first year in recent memory there were no re-jumps. It was the first time in almost two decades that all National events were held together during a two-week period.
    Even more unprecedented, Arizona Airspeed managed to sweep all four of the formation skydiving events. Airspeed Vertical took top honors in 4-way, and Airspeed 8 nudged by the Golden Knights in 8-way. Various combinations of PD Blue and PD Gold helped the Arizona boys also dominate the 10-way and 16-way events.
    Rumor has it that Airspeed was going to take a few weeks off, and then decide if they would represent the United States in the three events at the World Meet next year in Spain, their concern being the demand it places on them. But if they choose to decline one or more events, the second place team will be offered the slot.
    And despite their impressive results, don’t think the Airspeed boys easily dominated the whole RW week. There were many close bouts, and the final tally didn’t always look as clear as it appears after the fact.
    In 4-way, which by the way also broke its own numbers with the most teams participating ever--32 Intermediate, 34 Advanced and 11 Open--for a grand total of 77, Perris France Maubeuge gave Airspeed Vertical a run for their money. Though guests who couldn’t officially medal, Maubeuge’s performance very much counted to everyone else competing. Everyone wanted to know how they ranked in the overall mix.
    By the end of day one, Maubeuge was leading, with Airspeed Vertical and FX close on their heels. DeLand Norgies and DeLand PD Blue followed. But the picture shifted on Sunday, the day the meet put up the most loads, a record-breaking 230. Churning out six rounds, the pressure was definitely on.
    Airspeed Vertical inched by Maubeuge on round 7. Then, they continued to keep their lead--and they won. Maubeuge came in second in points, but it was FX that officially took the silver. DeLand Norgies, also guest competitors, tied FX in points, however, it was the U.S. team DeLand PD Blue that went to the podium to claim the bronze.
    In Advanced 4-way, Barry Jive’s Uptown 5 and Optic Nerve duked it out all the way to the end, when Barry Jive’s Uptown 5 slipped by Optic Nerve once again. But both were guests, so it was Teiwaz that took first place, proving to be strong, solid performers the whole meet through. (The name, Teiwaz, comes from a book on Norse runes in which a teiwaz is an arrow pointing upwards, meaning "skygod spiritual warrior.") The silver was hung around Nemesis, and DeLand PD Gold had a medal day, which raised their status up the ranks to bronze.
    The Intermediate 4-way class unveiled the Best New Team on the scene. DeLand Tunnel Rage simply dominated. But it was also this category that held the first jump-off. Tying for second place were Focus 4 and Dallas 4-Quest. They both tied again on the jump-off, so another round took place. Focus 4 ended up eeking ahead of Dallas 4-Quest by only one point.
    8-way unveiled 21 competing teams, 13 Intermediate and 9 Open. In a reverse scenario, John DeSantis, our diligent meet director, cranked through six of the rounds on Tuesday, knowing full well that problematic weather was following--which it did. But by Thursday, he was once again wrapping out the event in record time. The five Twin Otters helped.
    Airspeed 8 and the Golden Knights were fighting neck-to-neck for that top slot, each taking the lead in each subsequent round. The big scoreboard by the creeping area held the rapt attention of many as scores posted. By round 9, the big boys were tied once again.
    The crowd hovered around the big-screen TV for the 10th round. Airspeed proved to be smooth, fast and polished. They posted an impressive 23. The Knights’ turn came, and the audience audibly gasped as they watched as the team visibly hesitated before a few of their points. The Knights scored a 19. The hugs and congratulations went all around.
    In the Intermediate 8-way class, Wendy’s Boyz, guests, held first throughout, but the N Gang did post higher marks in 4 of the 6 rounds than them and were the official gold medallists. One more jump-off took place: Two teams again, Perrisinore Sibling Rivalry and Willy & the Bone Lickas, were tied for the silver. Perrisinore won the round and the honor.
    DeSantis immediately rolled over into 16-way, with team captains waiving the one-hour wait period. This would become one of the three consistently waived rules throughout the rest of the meet. The other two consisted of the one-hour wait between dives, especially for teams that were competing solely in one event, and somteams were allowed to complete all their rounds ahead of the rest.
    But it was all twelve 16-way teams that were launched Thursday afternoon for two rounds. Then, the weather set in again.
    By noon Saturday, the skies finally cleared, and the heat was on. One of the Golden Knights had problems in round 3 of 16-way and struggled with a loose reserve handle for a 40 precious seconds. They scored only 2 points, which set them back. Meanwhile, Airspeed Blue blew by the competition with a 14 in round 4.
    DeSantis then switched over to 10-way to get them rolling. Roger Nelson’s team, Skydive Chicago STL10, blew out of the starting gate with a 12.18-seconds. But Airspeed Blue, once again, regained control. By the end of the day, with 4 rounds completed in both 10-way and 16-way, Airspeed were already looking like the clear victors.
    Formation completed Sunday--just. DeSantis was getting ready to call the minimums, when the sun busted through, and he filled in the missing holes on the scoreboards in the 10-way and 16-way events.
    Airspeed Blue came shy of one point on their final 16-way round of breaking the world record with 16 points. Knights FX garnered the silver, making a comeback, and Deguello, the mostly Texan team, who were momentary contenders for second, fell in their last 2 rounds and collected the bronze.
    An interesting debate between Carl Daugherty’s 10-way team, the Power of Ten, and the judges took place. According to Tim Wagner of Omniskore, they were "busted by the judges on the last 4 rounds for using an illegal hand hold on the airplane." But Daugherty won his appeal, relinquishing only one round to the bust rule.
    However, by this time, Airspeed swept that event as well, and the Nationals Formation Skydiving week, and no less than five gold medals were hung around their team members necks. The fifth, called the Overall Formation Skydiving Medal, which had been awarded to no more than two individuals in any one year in the past, decorated 11 of the Airspeed guys for their combined high scores in all cumulative events.
    The standard was set that first week, both in front and behind-the-scenes. As Al Gramando, Eloy’s general manager said in regards to next year’s Nationals to be hosted by his drop zone, "Melanie is making my life difficult." All of the Conatsers should be commended on trying to accommodate any predicament, and the success of the first week was reflected back. It was indeed the biggest and best to date.

    By admin, in Events,