Quads on 100+ days

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I just spent last weekend videoing a 4-way team during training. They wanted to do quad-20's (i.e. they wanted to be on Gypsy load 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 etc etc.) I'd never done quads before - most teams I have videoed have trained with back to back 20's (i.e. load 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8) with an occasional triple.

Compounding that was the temperature, which hit over 100F over the weekend. (They predicted 97; it was 104 on Fri afternoon.)

It was definitely a slogfest. At that rate you have to rely 100% on packers of course, and we had a good team that managed to get five rigs packed in the 20 minutes they had between loads. We were getting out at 10,500 which also helped; we didn't have to deal with other canopy traffic and we got another 2 minutes to get across the runway and swap rigs.

Once we started a quad we had zero time to deal with anything else - and they lasted over 90 minutes each. I had to stage water and gatorade bottles between the packing area and the loading area so I had time to drink something. Then during the 20 minute downtime I'd have a little time to dub, pee, refill water and gatorade and deal with whatever minor problems I was having (like one camera refusing to go into record for some unexplicable reason.)

And then on jump 4 of Saturday the pilot forgot about the 10.5 pass. Someone reminded him and he turned quickly towards the DZ. He leveled out but didn't reduce power, and when we opened the door we were doing something like 140mph. I tried yelling at the pilot, but the noise from the door was so loud no one could hear anything. So I climbed out anyway. The prop blast/airstream was so strong that I couldn't get my feet on the step, so I clung to the peg and the edge of the door until they exited then pushed off as hard as I could. Worked, although I missed the first second or so of the dive.

Later in the day we _did_ get a cut and I climbed out. The point climbed out - then climbed right back in. "Great," I thought, "traffic or something." I then started the laborious process of climbing back in, which took one person blocking the wind (point got back out) and two people hauling on my arm to get it to the bar.

After I got back in I could not catch my breath - and since the pilot was now climbing to 12,500 the altitude wasn't helping. I ended up following them out when they exited; I didn't think I could face climbing out again after all that exertion and being at 12,500. I found out later that it hadn't been traffic. Someone forgot to zip up their jumpsuit. D'oh.

Often after a weekend of skydiving I'll feel like I was on a short vacation. Not this weekend. I'm still sore. But it was fun facing that kind of a challenge and (mostly) getting through it.

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