For the past three US Nationals, the Wild Humans have topped their competition in the canopy relative work event of 4-way rotation. Known in the past as rogues and the back street gang of the CRW community, this reformed team is marking up a new chapter and serious side to their history. Sort of.
"This is the first Nationals we didn't have a cutaway," says Stu Wyatt. "(In the past), we hardly ever practiced. We were known for coming and getting our practice at competitions. We always had the attention of everyone, because we were learning while we were on video."
The history of this team starts as far back as 1979. Stu Wyatt's older brother, Doug, started skydiving shortly after Stu, and because they had "a bad reputation for wanting to learn too fast," people veered away from jumping with them. That left each other. So, the two brothers spent a lot of time doing stacks and free fall together.
Around 1981, Jeff Wagner asked the two brothers if they wanted to build a canopy formation team, with Bill Storms as their fourth. The team, Wild Humans, was born.
Wagner organized one of their first experiences together. Wagner wanted his NCCS, an 8-stack award. It was to be performed at night, under the full moon out at Stapleton. Stu, who up to that point had no more than a 3-stack experience, closed the top as number 9, and Wagner got his award.
"I was jazzed," says Stu. "I didn't get the NCCS (due to technical fumbling), but we got broke in pretty good.".
The team started competing and training for the Nationals. They got third place that year. They also entered the Nationals with one different team member, but they were just going to learn and have fun. After about three competitions, the team faded.
Scott Chew, wanting a new chapter on the Wild Humans, approached the Wyatt brothers three years ago about reforming. Scott wanted them all to commit to a certain amount of training jumps. Joined by Joe Berning, the same four have won the gold at the '98, '99 and '00 Nationals. They also had the opportunity to go to the World Championships in Finland, where they placed fourth overall, but were proud to give the top-ranked Italians a run for their money on the first round.
Doug notes, "We're way more serious. Used to be completely for fun."
In that vein, they put in about 100 training jumps a year at their home drop zone in Colorado. They also had Scott, a certified rigger, redesign their deployment procedure with a pull-out pilot chute system.
Doug says, "We lost a lot of points in Finland over a pilot chute in tow. Our (new) method allows us to pull the pin by putting the pilot chute handle inside, up against the apex where the bridle meets."
Another feature also flattens their pilot chutes after their canopies open. "Even though our parachutes are so little (126 PD Lightnings), we can't have that little pilot chute up there; it will affect our landings," notes Doug. "Our wing loading is 1.7. And these canopies aren't designed to land well from the get-go."
So, these US Nationals proved to be their test run, and it was their best to date. Their throwaway round was 16 points, five points better than their competition's best. They will be attending next year's World Meet in Spain.
"To be in contention, we need to get 200 practice jumps in between now and then. The big boys in the world get 500-600 practice jumps," says Stu. "We're looking for sponsorship. There's only so much T-shirts can do for you."
But one thing the Wild Humans have always excelled at is public relations. In Finland, "while we were doing formation, we were the only team that landed together, and it excited the fans. They were rooting for the USA, even over their own teams," says Doug.
Their name and attitude definitely precedes them. And their tattoos. The temporary gnarly, tooth canopy tattoos seem to be stuck on anybody within their reach.
"It's a good ice-breaker with people; we talk to them, and it's a little more personable. Then, we try to sell them a T-shirt," laughs Stu.
But for the World Meet, "we plan on keeping the same game plan. If we're consistent, we can do it," says Stu. "This is the first time we've put up consistent scores all the way along. But even in those 17's, we had some problems. We want to work out those glitches."
However, it was their very own Scott Chew who was awarded a very special honor, the Overall Canopy Relative Work Medal, for scoring the best in all three CRW events.
"Usually, it goes to a team, but these guys let me ditch them," Scott laughs. He joined Clean Leap in 8-way speed, and his Wild Human teammates says it was due to no less than Scott's presence that Clean Leap won their gold.
Scott has 6,000 jumps, the most of his team, and has accomplished such bold maneuvers as building a 2-stack off of the River Gorge Bridge. The other three have about 3,000 jumps apiece.
"It's amazing you can still be an athlete over 40 in CRW. Some of these old boys have been around a long time and they're good flyers. It's kind of ageless to some degree," says Stu.
There's a history of jumping with the Wyatt brothers, and Stu has a T-shirt that lists all of the people that have competed with them.
Stu says, "We have two rules. First, there's no such thing as rules. Second, you can't change the rules."
So, what came first--their name or their behavior?
Stu answers, "We considered ourselves 'wild humans' before we even got into skydiving."
But these bad boys turned somewhat good are getting up to world-class levels. They're a little more serious, but not losing any of the fun. All four got a permanent version of their team tattoo this past summer.
"It shows one's commitment to some degree," says Doug. A lifetime, noting the permanency of real tattoos, to which he responds, "Naw. We won't stay together a lifetime. But it'll bring back good memories."
"Yeah, we'll be legends in our own minds," Stu jokes.