Diamond Quest Camp Journal

Carolina Sky Sports, NC, May 17

by Victor Rychlicki

This camp was help at Carolina Sky Sports in North Carolina. The weather, with the exception of the thermals at midday each day, was perfect. The people at the DZ and Paul Fayard, the owner were great. We couldn't have been treated better. (except maybe give away free jumps !! :-)

Friday a few people showed up early and we got 2 practice jumps in. Audrey Alexander piloted the first 14 way. Rich Hall showed up just in time for the second jump with a new tricked out Prodigy with modifications that would hopefully improve the way the formations fly. He said that the base may be harder to catch, and.... Yup! it was. It was a relatively small dive, only a 16 way, but it built fine, and flew FAST and solid.

Saturday brought the rest of the team, 34 of us plus camera. We filled a Casa and jumped it all weekend. We made 5 jumps saturday, none of which completed. Most of the dives built between 16 and 25 way. The dives were relatively uneventful with the exception of one that we broke down early because the midday thermals were bumping the formation around. Also, on a historic note, Frank Bender made his 5000th skydive with us Saturday. Congratulations Frank ! We love ya bud! Frank claims that he will be approx. 104 years old when he makes his 10,000th jump.

Sunday was definitely the most eventful of the 2 days. We jumped from 17K from a Casa equipped with oxygen. The first dive went great and almost completed, it built to 32, only 2 people out. It flew fast and very comfortable. The pucker factor was almost non-existent. This is what CRW is all about!!

The second jump ,also from 17K, was building wonderfully and flying great when the left row 6 wing that had just docked a few seconds earlier came around. It didn't take out the formation but hung in the midst of it while it started to breakdown. A recoil from the breakdown caused the right side row 4 wing to come around and take out another and they left in a 2-way whirley. The formation continued to breakdown to the point where the row 6 that came around was suspended under the left row 4 wings second lockup. It continued to fly that way (heavy, but very solid and flying well) for several thousand feet to give the wrap all the time necessary to work with the situation. The wrap eventually ended with the row 6 flyer cutting away and the second lockup that was wrapped landing with the cutaway canopy wrapped around his waist. Both landed without incident.

The right row 4 wing that came around and left in a 2 way whirly ended up with one cutting away and landing without incident and the other landing with a canopy around him that put him in a downplane. His reserve was deployed to assist in slowing the downplane. Given the choice to land in either water, trees, or a sod farm with a canopy tightly around both legs and a riser around his neck, he chose the sod farm. The lake would have made for a softer landing but he may have drown because he couldn't get out of all the lines around him. Landing on his backside he cracked 3 vertebrae. Other jumpers that landed to assist cut him out of the ejected canopy (thru the entire line set and some damage to one end cell) and his reserve. (Yea, they cut off his reserve, right thru the line set). He was taken to the nearby hospital where, after a night or 2 there, he was eventually told he will make a 100% recovery.

There was one more jump after this. From 17K the formation built up to around 25 or so. It was flying well and the pilot was just starting to call for a breakdown a 5.5K because we felt a big bump there on the way up. Just at that point we hit the rough air again and caused a wrap on the right side. It took out 2 others and left in a 3-way whirly. Fortunately it cleared shortly after without further incident.

After the third jump on Sunday everyone started departing. There were some good skydives, great weather, and even better people. Although our left row 4 wing flyer was injured, doctors say he will mend completely with no chronic problems. We miss him already, and wish him a fast and solid recovery.

Victor "MudMan" Rychlicki


The latest DQ camp, this time in sunny North Carolina, brought the right combination of sun, warmth, and 35 CReW dogs, all there to hone their skills for the World Record. Folks began arriving Friday afternoon, and were able to put up two loads. The second resulted in a beautiful 16 way diamond, just like we dirt-dived, and focused everyone on the job at hand.

Saturday dawned clear and cold, and with the CASA waiting for us we got off the ground right on schedule. We made four attempts at 35 and 34 ways, but none built to completion. The winds came up, and during the lunch break two small loads went up; a 4 way and a 6 way. After lunch, and the requisite dirt dive and run out, we all tried it again, but it was not to be on Saturday. The post dive was animated, but evidently got folks thinking, as Sunday showed a definite improvement.

Sunday morning was a little warmer, but we were able to offset that gain by climbing to 17,500 feet for the exit. Everyone was able to use the oxygen system like we'll see at the Record, and get used to the long climb between 13,000 and 17,500. With the extra altitude, and a much cleaner build, we were able to bring 32 of us together, with the last three making approaches at the "Break It Down" call. The jump renewed everyone's confidence and we quickly packed, watched the post dive video, and were back on the CASA to try again.

On the next load, we had a clean build and were on track to a completed formation, but the row six left wing came around, resulting in a two way entanglement in the middle of the formation. The ripple from the entanglement caused Bill Snyder and Pat Lindner to wrap. Bottom line is that Bill's canopy stayed inflated, Pat cut away, and Bill fought with the entangled canopy until close to the ground, fired his reserve, and landed hard in the sod farm. Many folks followed Bill to the landing, and were on the scene almost immediately to provide aid. The latest news is that he chipped three vertebrae, but he is strong and healthy and is expected to recover 100%.

The last jump went well also. Again from 17,500, and again we had a clean build up until we hit the dirty air at about 6000 feet. The formation came apart, resulting in a few whirlies, but no reserve rides. The bad air was back for the afternoon, and we called the camp complete.

Things to remember:

  1. WE CAN DO THIS!!! It will take smooth, controlled docks, and concentration on the job at hand, but we can do it.
  2. Know and practice your emergency procedures. From what I could see, Bill did everything he could to clear the entanglement, but still was altitude aware and put more material out when he was getting close to the ground.
  3. Big formations don't fly very well in ugly air.
  4. If there is a problem on the jump, follow each other down. There are enough of us that we can chase canopies, free bags, and other equipment, but our primary concern should be for the CReW dog with the problem.

Best wishes and hope for a speedy recovery to Bill.