by Peter Schaller
Dallas in July is supposed to be hot, darn hot. It wasn't. The skydives were however. For the first (Shiner Bock, y'all!) time, we're getting out to the row 4 wings. Not just once, but multiple times. We're up to 14 participants, despite several missing attendees. That's a full Caravan load!
Friday night had a tremendous display of lightning and winds, but the lights stayed on (as did the roof), so we had a seminar. With 13 of 14 folks having been to at least 3 camps, we moved easily through the schedule and had time to go through tapes of Raeford and DQ '92.
Saturday morning dawned early, damp and cloudy. The first load didn't launch until about 10 because of those stinkin' clouds, and even then we only got 9000'. Chris Farrington got to touch nylon for the first time, and learn why the world is our DZ. Because of the lower ceilings, we broke into 4-ways for a little Diamond Dancing. Chris got his 4-uh, stack? closing 4th despite some cloud-dodging. The day closed out with a series of larger attempts, best noted for their learning value.
Learning value includes watching Lee Hardesty make the 'Sikorskrew' look tame. While flying his row 3 wing, his lockup came in hot and started to wrap the center. This was a mistake. Lee didn't like that - he won't tolerate a wrap on his side, dang it! The canopy had already gone past him, but the slight bow in the brake line let him snag the canopy, then drag it back and get the grip! All while flying the wing so gentle the pilot never noticed a weight shift. You wouldn't believe it, even seeing it. I'm still in a state of shock. This man is awesome.
Sunday. Where's the *#&$^ pilot? Despite perfect weather and ready skydivers, we sat on the ground. And sat. Even the RW types arrived out at the DZ. They sat around too. Finally, after patience was already gone, a spare pilot made it out, having been rousted because the expected one still failed to show. Needless to say, a complete pair of diamonds helped everybody's feelings. Especially Chris, who bought up the tail for his CCR and CCS! (And another free skydive from the DZ for those awards...) Combining the groups brought a gorgeous 12-way offset with a row 4 wing being flown for the FIRST time by Cas. With the late start, we were down to a 7-way with folks leaving for home. The clouds towered from 3-13k, but when you're desperate for a skydive.... You know it's bad when the tandem students are blowing chunks due to the bumps! We somehow found a crevice that wound a serpentine path to the ground and got out. Despite a formation that had to turn more than the second hand on a watch, the beastie built enough to give the row 4 wing several approaches. Now the formation was bouncing around like a rubber ball, but even the breakdown was clean! Another clean weekend - no wraps, no cutaways.
The Texas DQ contingent is getting bigger & better every day. Next month, they'll be in part at the Ballunar Fest attempt on the state record, and we'll not be having a practice session in Dallas. Future plans include looking at moving a camp to Houston to bring the practice closer to the a majority of the participants. Until then...