by Scott Franklin
6:30 AM and the Georgia Base was ready to practice once again, smooth morning air...and all that. There were 24 participants at this camp, including three visitors from Brazil, Ricardo, Gil, and Greike. They had all recently been a part of the large formation CRW camps held down there.
Saturday started with a couple of warm up dives, two 12-ways. Rich Hall's group was on the first load and had a nice build and a wonderful spot. Joe O'Leary's load went up, built as well, but they hadn't watched us "wind dummies" very well, they ended up scattered around the east end of the airport. After we packed, the groups joined up for a 16-way diamond. Formation loads with the C-182 and the King Air. Yahoo! I still say that the view from the Cessna as you approach a largish formation is one of the most amazing sights. The large group then went back up and built a 17-way kite. For four of the jumpers, these were their first 16-ways. Building winds sat us down for the rest of the day. There was some good juggling and one bounce going on, however. Dan Briggs and Pat Lindner continued to impress everyone with their juggling and even created a new trick. Late in the day, the winds gave way to rain...so it goes.
Sunday morning and the rains had gone. There was mist on the ground as the first load took off. The air was clear and smooth. Atlanta was easily visible and looked closer than I have ever seen it. The large group went up and built a 17-way kite. The center 4 pulled out to create a frame. The first frame of the season! The frame was then starburst directly over the DZ, what a sight. The next formation built to 12 before the one wrap of the weekend. One cutaway, and a lesson from Jim Walton on how NOT to store a freebag after it is caught. "I compressed it and stuck it down my shirt to hold it." He explained. The compressed spring sprung out the bottom of his shirt and he had to rescue the freebag from a tree. Another load built to 15 as the bumps of the day caught up to us. More one bounce, some fun jumps, and Kevin Chapman got to try out his new jumpsuit! A small load went up and did some sequential 5-way. The end of the day came with a beautifuly flying 17-way box. (3x5 with 2 stingers) Gil swooped DQ regular Kirk Van Zandt's slot, laughing as he slid in front of Kirk. We broke the formation down by flying 3-way stairsteps off the bottom of the formation. Something we started back in '94 before the last World Record.
Even with the winds, everyone had a good time. The boys and girl from Brazil left talking about a 25-way over Brazil in November. They'll have some good company as Dave Richardson announced that he was moving down there in the next month or so. We'll miss him.
by Dan Briggs
Had a fine time down at the Atlanta Base last weekend. We were a little weathered, and most people got only 6 or 7 jumps, but nearly all of them were very high quality. The first jump we divided the 24 jumpers present into 2 12-ways. Both built fine, and for the rest of the weekend we were putting as many jumpers in the air as we could. Usually 17 or 18 ways, with 12 or 13 in the King Air and 5 in the Cessna. The last jump on Sunday was back down to a 15 way just because many people had already left for home.
There was one wrap where an unlocked 4th row wing came around in some bumpy air. Kirk van Zandt, the lock up to the 3rd row wing on that side wrapped with Chris Gay the 3rd row wing. Kirk eventually chopped. No injuries, and Kirk was back in the air for the next load. It was somewhat disturbing in that no one was able to come up with a plausible explanation of exactly *why* the wrap happened. There didn't happen to be video on that load, and the dive engineering and debriefed trim settings looked/sounded OK. The air was pretty bumpy, and eventually it was just ascribed to "bad air" and left at that. I think every other jump built smoothly to completion with plenty of altitude to spare (barring a single novice who didn't get in several times).
We never built high enough to attempt 2nd points, but several dives had interesting breakdowns. One dive pulled 4 jumpers (individually) out of the center of a 17 way. The frame was amazingly healthy, and nearly flew better than the original diamond. It started to get a touch weird towards the end of the 10-count starburst countdown, but was all in all very successful. The last 15 way was a 3x5 box, which we broke down by peeling off 3-way stairsteps from the bottom. There were a few hitches with the breakdown when grips were and weren't dropped at the appropriate time, but the box itself was amazingly stable and it never got out of hand at all.
It was a good weekend. By the next base practice there should be enough lift capacity to get 25+ jumpers into the air, and everyone seems to feel that the group is ready for it.