by Eduardo Guillen
It was Wednesday and I was sitting in front of the TV watching the weather channel predicting a rainy weekend for north Florida. After looking out of the window I decided that couldn't be worst than here in Massachusetts, so I went to the Palatka DQ camp anyway. I'm glad I did.
Friday started windy and only got worse as the hours passed by. By mid-afternoon we already had a decent number of DQers wanted to launch the first load but the view of the cows tracking into the wind kept us on the ground. Tired of so much waiting and with sunset approaching some of us decided that it wasn't so windy, or perhaps the wind did came down a little after all.
As usual, United Diamonds showed the way ;-) by putting together a 4-way dive from the Cessna. We completed 2 (planned, of course) points. Then others jumped in and we built a 2x3 box with a stinger by 6000', this time from the King Air. In what was going to be a tendency for the weekend, both formations were built smoothly and felt very stable and relaxed to fly.
Our work on Saturday began by building a 9-way diamond with two stingers which took a while to completed, so we left the second point for the following jump. That was a 12 way jet followed by a breaking into 3 diamonds. Everything went OK and we had the jet completed by 9500', and after flying it around for a while the pilot called for the second point. Sadly not everyone heard the same call . But luckily almost everyone did the right transition, but sadly yet there was one in the dive who in the confusion forgot about the second point, and sadly indeed, that one was me. So we ended up with 2 diamonds flying perfectly in close proximity, followed by 3 angry and one sorry CRW dogs.
Next jumps was a 3x4 box with a stinger in which we almost completed the second point : a 3x4 box to the other side.
Saturday afternoon was The Revenge of the Weather Forecasters, who sent us skeptics some showers which made jumps impossible. We took advantage of this break and relaxed, hung around the DZ, and had a much needed talk about issues related to DQ and the record.
On Sunday we had a sunny dawn and we greeted the sun with a 4x3 box completed by 9000'. Nobody expected such a swift completion from a bunch of half-weaken up skydivers and so we didn't plan for a second point, but we had so much time left that after a complete breakdown, we almost rebuilt the initial formation.
Then the time came for the jump Rich (our pilot) longed for all the weekend : a 2x6 box. It built quickly and to my surprise it flew solid and stable although 2nd and 3rd row wings complained of it being too heavy. Rich turned the formation, which looked long and tinny from the ground but somehow odd from within, for more than 180 degrees. The breakdown was also perfect. What an awesome dive! By the way, Chico did made his *first* dock as row 6 wing on that dive. Congratulations Chico! We thirstily await your row 6 wing beer!
The last jump before I had to leave for the airport was a second attempt of breaking a 12-way jet into 3 diamonds. Nothing could be better. Again the first point was completed so high that Rich held the formation for more than one minute. Calls of "Complete" started to be repeated from the bottom of the formation believing that perhaps the first wasn't heard. After the fourth call of "Complete" a bit of a dialogue developed until "Diamonds, diamonds!" was called. But once again, one of us forgot about the transition (not me this time, I swear!) and one diamond broke apart.
I don't know if betting is legal in CRW, so I'll just say that before this jump the row 2 wing told his lock up he couldn't swoop his slot. Row 2 was ready for a brisk dock with about one canopy length between him and the pilot when suddenly his lock up came out of the blue in a hard turn, walked over his canopy and... Yes! Swooped his slot. One way or the other, you never can get bored jumping with DQ.
During this weekend we found ourselves building quicker and quicker formations. They flew smoothly and felt very solid for the most part and I enjoyed this sensation, as well as the relaxed atmosphere during the camp. We all had fun, and what can be better while jumping with friends?