Diamond Quest Camp Journal

Skydive Dallas, TX, May 24

by "MAC"(Steve McConathy)

What a great camp! This weekend in Dallas was a huge confidence builder for the eight regulars in attendance. We decided Friday that for this camp we should plan dives to gain the most docking practice possible. Most of us were feeling way behind the curve, in regard to practice, because so many of the recent camps have been cut short due to bad weather. We also decided to continually repeat the same dive to see how fast we could improve by repeatedly flying the same slot. In previous camps, positions were changed quite often because the goal was to test people in different slots and determine positions for the healthiest formation as a whole. However, on the upcoming record attempts, slots will likely be somewhat fixed. We attributed our success this weekend to this repetition in the same slots.

The plan was to build an 8-way wedge with Schaller and Elliot Lebsack as base pin; Mac as the other row two; Coker number 4; Hardesty and Petto as row three wings; and Dudley and "Cass" Castillo locking up. After the complete call, our pilot, Peter Schaller, would make a turn or correction as necessary to keep us in the vicinity of the airport, and then call for a break-down. After the break-down Peter would turn and set up one hundred yards behind our previous position. All others reassumed echelon formation as if we had just exited the aircraft. This took more time than a simple break and rebuild but gave us more realistic practice by simulating multiple aircraft exits.

After waiting until almost 3:00PM for the clouds to clear on Saturday our first formation built slowly. Our lack of practice showed a bit, but we built to an 8-way by 9000ft. Up and coming CRW-pup, Heather, showing much promise, made several attempts at what would have been her CCR and CCS (SO CLOSE), but eventually we had to break for altitude.

We worked with the same dive on Sunday. Even with substantial turbulence we continued to build faster, and by afternoon, were building twice and going for three. On one jump, CRW novice, Brian Button, docked ninth for his CCR and CCS. Congratulations Brian! Later that afternoon, with only eight in attendance, we were building the 8-way wedge by 10,000ft, turning it, breaking it, reforming echelon, rebuilding by 6,000, and starting again. All docks were timely and accurate. The formation flew light and healthy. We never quite built it three times but our splits were definitely getting faster with each jump. This gives us confidence that, once we are in Dallas for the record attempts, our speed will increase quickly as we learn the intricacies of a particular slot.

We had to wait for the clouds to break again on Memorial Day. Faced with the boredom of waiting, we came up with a new CRW competition in which yours truly out gunned Cass in the final elimination round of the "Skydive Dallas Hook-Knife Quick-Draw Contest." For variety, we finally did some slot trading for our last two dives. Though the new formation was not the most sound, from the perspective of correct canopy size in the most optimum position, it flew solidly and built just as fast as the previous diamonds had. We were all very happy with our progress.

Thanks to Skydive Dallas for all their consideration. For those of you who have not been to Skydive Dallas and will be here for the record, you're in for a treat. It's a very professionally run and extremely well organized DZ.