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!
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