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billvon

15 years ago today

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15 years ago today, 420 skydivers exited 5 C-130's over Udon Thani and built the world's first 400 way formation.  It was very close.  A last minute replacement went low right behind me, and John Peschio managed to reach down and pick her back up into her slot.  (That never works.)  We were starting to have hypoxia problems going to 26,500+ feet without bailout oxygen.  But on this one jump everything came together and we managed to hold the formation for ~4 seconds before breakoff started at 7500 feet.

The next day we did the largest mass freefall jump ever (1000+ people) over the new airport near Bangkok.  Both are still records today.

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1 hour ago, billvon said:

15 years ago today, 420 skydivers exited 5 C-130's over Udon Thani and built the world's first 400 way formation.  It was very close.  A last minute replacement went low right behind me, and John Peschio managed to reach down and pick her back up into her slot.  (That never works.)  We were starting to have hypoxia problems going to 26,500+ feet without bailout oxygen.  But on this one jump everything came together and we managed to hold the formation for ~4 seconds before breakoff started at 7500 feet.

The next day we did the largest mass freefall jump ever (1000+ people) over the new airport near Bangkok.  Both are still records today.

dirt_dive.jpg

148053516_3995097467188026_3118487829792281043_n.jpg

exit.jpg

image000000 (2).jpg

147152921_3995097630521343_3410800186648251095_n.jpg

What a day and what a jump. Truly a career highlight and a huge gift to us all from B.J. Worth. Theresa and I are the last two on the end of the right hand blue whacker, Roger Ponce's team. Thanks Bill, big smiles.

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2 hours ago, ixlr82 said:

Based on your experience, Billvon or Joe Weber, what is your assessment of the likelihood of the 400 way ever being broken? Logistics, qualified jumpers, interest, etc...

I'm not either of them, but I'd say the chances are very low.

The logistics are probably the biggest hurdle. That much lift capacity is hard (and expensive) to organize. IIRC, it was the King's coronation anniversary. This was put together to celebrate that.

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On 2/10/2021 at 12:25 PM, ixlr82 said:

Based on your experience, Billvon or Joe Weber, what is your assessment of the likelihood of the 400 way ever being broken? Logistics, qualified jumpers, interest, etc...

I think the chances would be greater to see a world flocking record. Seems to be the new RW

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(edited)
On 2/10/2021 at 2:25 PM, ixlr82 said:

Based on your experience, Billvon or Joe Weber, what is your assessment of the likelihood of the 400 way ever being broken? Logistics, qualified jumpers, interest, etc...

I don't see it.  We had another 5 seconds to play so maybe if we had added jumpers then or got after it in the next couple of years we could have bumped it up a notch. It really wasn't just World Team but the culmination of a generation of big way jumpers developing the skills that made it possible. That and BJ Worth. He sorted out Russian planes in Bratislava, Russian helicopters in Anapa and Thai Air Force C-130's in Thailand. Sorting out the logistics of moving those numbers of jumpers around and navigating the politics would have melted a normal person. That and we got a lot more than World Records. Many American jumpers had never been out of the US before. For sure, it was the whole experience that kept people coming back for more and bigger records. I think that day has passed now. I was lucky enough to be on them all and I'll never forget a one.

Edited by JoeWeber

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On 2/10/2021 at 10:25 AM, ixlr82 said:

Based on your experience, Billvon or Joe Weber, what is your assessment of the likelihood of the 400 way ever being broken? Logistics, qualified jumpers, interest, etc...

It all comes down to money.  With enough money it's doable.

Logistics, as you mentioned, is the big deal.  Finding a venue, getting everyone there, getting the aircraft and crews - it would take someone even more organized than BJ and that would be hard to find.  But if you throw money at it, it gets easier.  (Recall that we didn't pay for any of the crews or aircraft in Thailand; we only paid for fuel.)

Another is equipment.  We were going to 27,000 feet with only in-plane oxygen and that is really pushing the limits.  You'd need to go higher, which means _reliable_ bailout O2 systems for everyone.

Another is qualified jumpers.  You'd either need to get a higher level of interest/dedication to get the jumpers trained and there, or you'd need to invest some of that $$ in a longer event with training included in the first half of the event.  Wind tunnels make that more possible nowadays; you can get a lot of training on the ground for fallrate, docking position, maneuvering etc.

So it would be a huge, huge undertaking, and it would not look the same as past records - but it's doable if the desire (and the money) is there.

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17 hours ago, billvon said:

It all comes down to money.  With enough money it's doable.

Logistics, as you mentioned, is the big deal.  Finding a venue, getting everyone there, getting the aircraft and crews - it would take someone even more organized than BJ and that would be hard to find.  But if you throw money at it, it gets easier.  (Recall that we didn't pay for any of the crews or aircraft in Thailand; we only paid for fuel.)

Another is equipment.  We were going to 27,000 feet with only in-plane oxygen and that is really pushing the limits.  You'd need to go higher, which means _reliable_ bailout O2 systems for everyone.

Another is qualified jumpers.  You'd either need to get a higher level of interest/dedication to get the jumpers trained and there, or you'd need to invest some of that $$ in a longer event with training included in the first half of the event.  Wind tunnels make that more possible nowadays; you can get a lot of training on the ground for fallrate, docking position, maneuvering etc.

So it would be a huge, huge undertaking, and it would not look the same as past records - but it's doable if the desire (and the money) is there.

All true just as soon as you get back from vacation and develop the anti-gravity belt. Do you suppose Soros would fund it?

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(edited)
3 hours ago, JoeWeber said:

All true just as soon as you get back from vacation and develop the anti-gravity belt. Do you suppose Soros would fund it?

Why would Soros be interested? It sounds more like a job for Elon. He is making Bitcoin defy logic and perhaps even gravity. Maybe a crypto-1000 way is next.

Edited by gowlerk

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