by Audrey Alexander and Bill Snyder
At the latest Diamond Quest practice camp, twenty-eight Prodigy-wielding CRW dogs gathered with that lovingly familiar backdrop of the sun just beginning to peek over the Georgia horizon on a brisk Saturday morning. The usual Georgia gang was there with a strong contingent from Pennsylvania. After circling up, counting off, and dirt diving, a 25-way boarded the Twin Otter and C-182 and proceeded to complete the formation although one interior grip at the bottom of the diamond was missing. After rounding everyone up from the wind dummy load (Thanks, Rich!) another 25-way was fielded and the same results were obtained--differing line lengths between the 225s and the 150s can make grips a little tough to reach! After our second para-hike in as many jumps (OK, Rich, we got our exercise the first time!), we put up another 25-way attempt. The 16-way built, and the right side of the 25-way began building, but the left side row 5 wing proved to be an elusive slot on this particular jump. After the barrage of aborted wing docks, Terry Sparrow (left side, row 4 wing) admitted, "I was just keeping my eyes closed and thinking happy thoughts." After the third jump, the winds picked up prompting a wind hold which held us on the ground for about 5 hours. In the evening, with the winds--supposedly--calming and some puffy cloud formations beginning to build, another 25-way was organized. At about 10 grand, with the row four wings docked, the formation hit some really dirty air causing some bouncing around and, subsequently, a breakdown.
After some thunderstorms Saturday night, Sunday morning greeted us with a beautiful sunrise and clear skies which would last throughout the day. On the first jump of the day, the left side of the formation broke apart as number 25 was docking, resulting in a breakdown, but no whirlies. The second 25-way attempt on Sunday built to about 20 before the left side again broke apart. There was one minor whirly-gig, but no handle-pullin' was necessary as both canopies separated cleanly. After some soul searching and pep talking, the third 25-way attempt of the day came together smoothly and quickly with a build time of 4 minutes. There was enough time and altitude left for Rich to crank his patented 25-way hook turn back towards the DZ. The fourth jump Sunday, and the final jump of the weekend, was another 25-way which completed smoothly in 5 minutes.
All in all, it was a successful weekend: Echelons are looking better, builds are getting smoother, and breakdowns are getting cleaner.
Practice is over, we're training for a WORLD RECORD!
Blue skies, big, fast diamonds,