by Bill Snyder
The skies over Georgia were filled with, well, clouds mostly, but the ground was covered with nylon-starved CRW dogs at Peach State Skydiving. The regular Georgia gang was there along with several DQers from Pennsylvania and a few from Texas. In all, there were 25 toggle grabbers in attendance. Despite the less-than-ideal weather, six CRW loads were put up through the course of the weekend.
With the morning clouded out, the first load of the day on Saturday got off the ground around noon. With a few people sitting down due to clouds, an 11-way and an 8-way were organized to "shake the rust off". The 8-way formation was completed, while the 11-way built to six. The second load of the day on Saturday was a 25-way attempt which built to only 12 due to a row 3 wing coming around. Luckily, no wraps ensued and the formation rebuilt to 5 before breakdown was called. The final load on Saturday, a 24-way attempt, got off the ground as the sun was setting. The 9-way diamond built and one row 4 wing was on when, apparently, the formation encountered some bad air. The dreaded "ripple effect" came across the formation from left to right ultimately resulting in the row 4 wing (yours truly) coming around and gobbling up the row 3 wing lockup, which happened to be Red Payne. The wrap resulted in two cutaways (why do these things happen on the last load of the day?). Both free bags were recovered but the mains out-floated the lurkers and were deemed missing in action as of Saturday night.
Sunday morning, the sky had clouded back up with a 2,000 ft. ceiling. We loaded up the Cessna and went on a canopy search. Both cutaway canopies were recovered in good condition-we're 5 for 5 in the past 3 months. We waited out the clouds until about 11:30 when the sun finally poked through. As a few folks with long drives had already left, we fielded an 18-way attempt. The 16-way diamond with two stingers completed with altitude to spare. The second load on Sunday was a 17-way diamond with a stinger, which also completed. The final load on Sunday was a two-point 10-way. The first point was a kite followed by a 2x5 box which built just as the starburst was being called.
All in all a pretty successful weekend considering the bad weather. The larger formations provided good opportunities to practice echelon flying, which improved as the weekend progressed. As a note on safety procedures, I'll quote the safety reminder in the latest DQ Flyer: "In the event of a malfunction or cutaway, at least one person must always follow the person(s) under reserve. Second priority goes to the cutaway canopies. And finally, someone should follow the reserve free bag and pilot chute. " It's easy to get caught up trying to swoop the free bag, instead of keeping an eye on the reserve(s) and the cutaway canopies. Determine who is doing what to help the jumpers who cutaway and decide what course of action you should take to help those jumpers as best you can.
Have fun, be safe, see you at Clewiston,