Diamond Quest Camp Journal

Skydive Kansas, KS Oct. 11th

This camp was scheduled as a novice camp; I've been lonely for local CReW jumps since March and knew we'd need to "grow our own". We had three CReW virgins, and three novices, plus the instructor at the camp. We jumped at a single Cessna 182 dropzone, and were still able to make 17 loads before we were shut down for weather on Sunday. All the new folks earned a four stack award, and we even redocked two two-stacks. No wraps, no cutaways, and no injuries. Can't do much better than that. Here are comments from two of the newbies:

Oh yeah; We all said the safety briefing and a little prayer on each load.


by BJ Brown

Doug Birtell, Ron Coulter, and BJ Brown met at the home of Bryan and Becky Welch the other night. We discussed the discipline of CRW in general and of the tenets of Diamond Quest. We learned strange new terms like Nasser toggles, get heavy, and center punch. We struggled to jam huge canopies with no particular organization (from a freefall point of view) into normally aerodynamic containers ("what do you mean we're not going to rubberband the lines?" "is it okay for the risers to stick out THAT much?" "is this right?"). We watched in horror as we modified our rigs and then saw the results of our "pack" jobs. We drilled commands and REALLY learned what the differences are between rear risers and brakes, front risers and those weird Nassir things. We watched video of good docks and formations as well as bad docks and formations.

There is instruction, and then there is application.....

We began bright and early on Saturday (ugh!) doing 1-on-1s with Bryan. The ride to altitude seemed very strange--I only have 130 jumps myself, but it had been quite awhile since the butterflies had been that active. At 8500 I got the 1st-jump shivers while putting on the gloves and helmet.....there was the moment of self-doubt--are my canopy-handling skills REALLY good enough to do this? Am I going to have a wrap on my pre-second CRW jump? What if I don't get docked, or dock too hard, or, or, or.......Jump run, and the discipline takes over--the training was excellent, we were well-drilled, and it's time to just do it without worry. The butterflies were in formation, and we would be also.

It was challenging, trying to coax precise movements while learning how this strange new canopy flies. It was tiring, dealing with all the front riser sashays and rear riser floats. We made mistakes, and we learned. But we did it--Bryan docked on us, and then we docked on Bryan--that amazing rush of GRABBING SOMEONE ELSE'S CANOPY! Overcoming all the things we'd learned over the years about staying way away from other canopies, we passed our first test. Then it was time to get downtown......

The hunt for the elusive first 4-stack began, and by the end of Saturday, I had mine thanks very much to the skills of Bryan, Becky, and Shannon. Doug and Ron got close, but it would not happen for them that day. Bryan shifted us around with weights and canopy changes, and on Sunday Bryan, Shannon, and I helped Ron get his 4-stack (21 pounds of weights.....man, lose some of yours......). We were smokin' now....Doug got his in the afternoon with Bryan, Becky, and Shannon (the 4-stack queen of the weekend), and they not only got the 4-stack, but rotated 2 2-way pieces and then got into 2 2-way side-by-sides, and Becky and Shannon even got a downplane in! It was an amazing thing to watch from the ground, and it was definitely the highlight of the weekend. We then tried some fun stuff, but weather moved in and halted that fun (not to mention the WAY out landing in the pasture). To finish up, we then cobbled together a good old-fashioned 4-way RW dive that was really ugly--oh, yeah, that stuff, I think I remember how to do that.....

We learned a lot about ourselves not only as jumpers but as people. In my mind, these first CRW jumps showed me as much of myself as that first static line so long ago. Just as novice freefallers overcompensate their movements and break up formations or do amazing things without knowing how or why, so were we with our canopies. Those first docks were pretty ugly, but by Sunday afternoon we were moving in with confidence and control. There was such a feeling of jubilation--trying to describe it to other jumpers seemed to take the tone of describing skydiving to my whuffo coworkers, and in the end there was the longing to share this new joy with anyone who would listen. It's a unique part of an already unique family, and it is a part that I am proud and honored to join. At the beginning of the camp, I was interested more in just trying it out to see what it was all about, but now I know that my plans to buy a smaller high-performance canopy are gone, and I'll be eventually getting a CRW rig. Freefall is still my best friend, but I now have another best friend--hopefully they won't get jealous of each other; we just have to share our play now.

If I had the wings of an angel......

Thanks very much to Doug and Ron for being great classmates, and to Becky, Shannon, and Ben for being great novice helpers, but mostly to Bryan for his excellence as a flier, his absolute love of CRW (which is highly infectious), and his infinite well of patience with us. It was a great weekend, and I can't wait to do it some more!

BJ Brown

by Doug Birtell

It was my first CRW jump.
I'm riding up in the plane...
Thinking about nothing but canopy wraps,
and how many different ways it can happen.
Just how many lines and fabric can wrap around one body anyway?
I'm thinking about this really sloppy pack job...
and about all the canopy on the OUTSIDE of my container.
Everything's going against what I've been taught in my FJC
and what I teach.
I look at my instructor...
He's just smiling knowing something about what I'm thinking
He must be a sadist to put me thru this torment.
Somehow, that's not what he's thinking.
It was such an evil smile.
Then we're out in the air...
I'm apprehensive about getting close to him
but I know I must, so I do.
and it reminds me of those RW jumps I made when I had
30 jumps and I was jumping with highly proficient jumpers,
I'd get on the ground and think "Wow, they did all the work
and I was just along for the ride."
Later that next day, we made a 4-stack.
It was incredible to say the least.
I was a champion,
King of the hill,
I had defeated my opponent.
I was invincible.
I had made a 4-stack.
Either way it was great and it was also very very sad...
For now I must spend even MORE money to...
purchase yet more gear for this new endeavor.