by Scott Fiore
The video and camp lecture were held in a little more relaxed setting than normal since all camp participants had been through it before. The barbeque food was good. Im sure my neighbors werent prepared for multiple packing mats set-up on the grass for packing. I wasnt REALLY sure what kind of timer the sprinklers were on. And I know after a late night of packing and watching videos, none of us were truly ready for a 7:00 AM dirt dive in Longmont (45 minutes away).
Miraculously, all 10 participants made it for the 7:00 dirt dive and wheels were up on the King (sting) Air by around 7:30. Due to a slow initial quad, we built only 8 out of 10. The remaining two were in good echelon, so it was a good dive to clear the cobwebs. No one had built anything larger than a 6-way (with various canopies) since our last Colorado Camp. That is, except Rich Hall. Rich seems to have a wonderful job that allows him to travel to various geographically located camps on a regular basis. Rich piloted all our diamonds over the weekend, and his experience was very much appreciated and utilized.
Our second attempt (still before 9:00 AM) gave us 9 out of 10 in formation, with the 10th in good echelon. All participants were doing a great job in the dirt-dives, exits, echelon and breakdowns. There were a couple of times where we swapped some slots when they were building slow, but they were "wing for lock-up" swaps or "lock-up for lock-up" swaps, all which helped the formations build faster.
Other dives yielded 8, 9 and 10-ways. Almost everyone got to fly a wing at row 3 sometime during the weekend. We were accompanied by photographers and video from MTV sports (They were doing a program on some "stunt" work of one of the participants, but we were filmed none-the-less). Unfortunately, we had to end a little early on Sunday. There was a nasty little wrap on the base pin with Rich Hall and Rusty. I had a great perspective on it since I was supposed to dock third. The pin was a little off, and Rich tried to climb around the front Rustys canopy from the side of the end cell (around B line area). As he reached around to the A line, the canopy went partially slack and snapped back, engulfing him in canopy. After about 2000 feet of working with it, Rich found his way out. As he emerged, Rustys canopy looked perfectly set for the dock, so he took a grip again. This time, the canopy snapped around him with enough force so that I could not see any part of Richs body except the top of his head. Another 3000 feet of work proved futile and Rusty was asked to chop (All of this is on video). Rich tried to work the other canopy out of his lines, but it was partially inflated and doing nasty things to his canopys trim (Meanwhile, I had already snagged one freebag). Rich also cut away (I know he was thinking about doing a half-series) and opened his 175 sq. ft. reserve. We landed a few miles from the DZ, in various fields following the mains. Luckily with Richs affinity for the camera, he swooped right towards the video for a landing. The Rich Halls patented "butt-swoop" with a 175 sq. ft. reserve at 5500 ft. elevation is something everyone should see (I have kept a copy for the record if anyone is interested). My canopy was a little torn (I think it was the barbed wire where I landed) and 2 reserves out made it an early day. Also, we had to climb a big tree to get Richs main.
As usual, it was a great weekend. All participants learned a lot (at least they were nice enough to tell me that). It is something the jumpers and the Longmont Drop Zone will be talking about for some time. When the MTV special airs, I will be sure to post it on the internet. Hopefully, we get the opportunity to have another weekend like this in the near future.