by Dan Briggs
The September UPC camp proved a successful one, with several folks getting valuable new experience catching and flying 9-way diamonds. 10 CRWdogs were present at the camp start, tapering off to 7 by the end. The weather was far better than forecast, and we launched 8 loads all of which got full altitude or even a bit more. (This doesn't mean the weather wasn't a problem at all -- one partially completed 10-way broke apart as the 7-way went through a bumpy cloud layer, and an unlocked wing threatened to come around.) Three 9-ways completed and three more nearly so, allowing us plenty of opportunity to experiment and compare formations piloted by Ted and by Frank. The quad of Ted on top, Chuck & Dan as wings, and locked by Remo proved to be a good fast stable base, yet still catchable by the row-3 wings. The formations under Frank were a bit slower, but still quite flyable. The contrast was interesting and useful to the upcoming CRWdogs fine tuning their flying
We proved yet again the old adage of "(almost) anything will fly for three seconds", when the lockup to a row-three wing miscalculated and blew past her target at about warp 9.2, briefly snagging a line in the process. This spun the wing 180 degrees in his harness, allowing him a good view of the 9-way lockup on final approach. (The lockup declined to dock, under the circumstances.) He held his trim while spun about, and the canopy actually remained flying. The whole formation got a bit squirrely at the end of those three seconds, and the pilot called a breakdown just as the wing finally unwound.
An almost high point of the weekend was a two point 7-way, where a 7-way box was restructured into a jewel (rows of 1-2-1-2-1). Unfortunately, a complete call was mistakenly given too soon, while the final lockup was on still on short approach, and we started the transition to a third point too soon. Things got confused at that point, but there was still plenty of alititude left. The final CRW jump of the weekend attempted this formation again, but had trouble with a novice out and severely bumpy weather. Jewels have to be respected, since they are definitely more delicate than diamonds, but this formation seemed solid enough to attempt again. People enjoyed it as a welcome change of pace from boxes and incomplete arrowheads, for those awkward times when 7 people are standing around wanting to do CRW. The only problem is that a 7-way jewel requires the 4-way lockup to have piloting skills to do the obvious rotation of the top three to the bottom. We'll probably try it again at UPC, though it's probably a formation best reserved for still air.