Diamond Quest Camp Journal

San Antonio, TX Mar. 1st

by Peter Schaller

Despite the best efforts of the commercial airlines, the Friday evening lecture did occur, although it started quite late. Joe O'Leary had a group of 16 listeners as he led everyone through the concepts of offsets and intermediate sized diamonds. The video and the blackboard brought the ideas forward in a clear manner.

When the dawn arose Saturday, a light mist allowed everyone to sort through the demo Prodigy's. The crispy feeling of new canopies mixed nicely alongside familiar ones, alothough there was a clash in colors. With everyone packed, we broke into 3 groups. DQ regulars Kevin Vetter, Lee Hardesty, Richard 'Cas' Castillo, Jeff Cornelius took two groups of 9 out across the landing area in the first of many dirt dives. A smaller group of novices stayed with Peter Schaller and were given an introductory session on how best to stroke nylon.

The fog cleared and the Twin Otter roared off the grass strip. Skydive San Antonio gets a big vote for having the easiest DZ to locate from the air, being nestled between two large power plants & their cooling lakes. It was quite frosty at altitude, although it warmed nicely, reaching into the 70s on the ground. This caught the first loads by suprise, leading to some very painful fingers that screamed for warmth.

The novices completed their skill dives and the larger groups were building past row 3 when the first problems appeared. First was a deployment malfunction that resulted in a safe landing but also a missing main and freebag. Thanks to efforts by Skydive San Antonio, both were later recovered.

The next set of dives saw another malfunction, this time due to a link cover that escaped up the lines, choking off the corner of the canopy in a impressive manner. While mesquite bushes make great wood for barbeque, they have nasty thorns that make removing canopies a challenge! A series of problems resulted in a severe wrap, with 3 cutaways. One participant, got his reserve inflated and clear but was unable to clear the wrap from around his foot. The towed wrap's oscilations dragged his reserve into a downplane as he reached the ground. This brought the day to an unwelcome close.

Sunday saw several completions with a lot of learning, and things seemed to be going well until one jumper landed out. A DQ trainer landed to assist, only to meet the proverbial "Farmer McNasty" himself. A "rescue" mission by the local police resulted in their release. The day concluded with a gorgeous 11-way kite on video.

Lessons learned:

  1. Dress for the weather upstairs. Hopping about with frostbit fingers isn't fun.
  2. Pack with care. A CReW cutaway from a malfunction leaves a long reserve ride and a big area to search for parts.
  3. Helmets. Please wear them.
  4. Shoes. Can you get rid of them in a wrap?

by Lee Hardesty as told to Laura Ausel

I arrived from Dallas at about 2:30 pm on Friday to help get the organizational details out of the way. Present at the camp were Joe O'Leary, Kevin Vetter, Jeff Cornelius, and other Diamond Quest dignitaries. Also present were several CReW newbies whose first experience with wrestling nylon would be at this camp, and some others of varying experience levels. There was also a collegiate rotations team from Aggies over Texas who were to get their first taste of offset formations. Due to luggage problems in Atlanta (yeah sure, Joe!), Joe was delayed and the Friday night lecture was pushed back accordingly.

Dives on Saturday were delayed in the morning by lake-effect fog. Once the fog cleared, serveral attempts at 9-way diamonds were put up. There were varying degrees of success, and lots of learning, but no completions. At the same time Joe and Kevin were working on some one-on-one exercises with some of the newbies. The last jump of the day on Saturday was marred by an accident when a wrap resulted in several cutaways. One jumper was had a canopy's lines tangled around his ankle with the canopy inflated behind him. This "dragplane" resulted in an extremely hard landing with several injuries to the jumper. On a lighter note, I got the "CReW Dog" award for catching a friend's freebag (see "You Might Be a CReW Dog If ...").

Sunday morning was foggy again, which gave folks time to re-pack reserves and mains. Later on when loads started flying, several 4 and 5 ways went up for drill dives. In many cases there was completion on the first point, with different levels of success on subsequent points. Once again, the Diamond Quest focus on learning was emphasized. The grand finale of hte weekend was a 9 way diamond - the first to be flown over San Antonio.