VR in the Tunnel!
You can now make the ultimate Virtual Reality skydive - in a wind tunnel
Elite skydivers from all over Europe (and a few from across the ocean) gathered this week at Skydive Pink Klatovy in Czech Republic ready to break a record – a 100-way out-facing Diamond. Representatives from no less than 21 countries, if my count is correct, showed up to face the challenge that Dieter Kirsch, Patrick Passe and Milko Hodgkinson prepared for us.
The organizers started working on the project almost one year ago. The team selection was… brutal, because of the high interest it created. From Dieter’s point of view it was “a piece of cake”. The manual for the dive is worth a study even if you are not a big-way addict just because the dive was so ambitious and the plan for it was so carefully designed.
Skydive Pink Klatovy worked hard to have everything ready for the invasion, with Thomas Lewetz and Robert 'Baerchen' Jastram in charge. They did a wonderful job, every detail in place. Thank you for that!
A bit of history – this formation has already been tried twice in the past.
The first attempt took place in 2008 in US at Skydive Spaceland, Texas and it was organized by BJ Worth and Thomas Jenkins. They were really close – the best try was a 99-way out-facing diamond with only one person missing.
The second attempt was in 2010 in Eloy, Arizona, also organized by BJ Worth. This one didn’t come that close to success. The best jump had 4-5 people out. To this date the biggest complete out-facing diamond is a 64-way one. It was built in Vichy, France many years ago.
The D100 event started on Wednesday with four training jumps done by separate groups. The first two jumps were done with the center 25-way coordinated by Milko, the 38-way Front coordinated by Dieter and the 37-way Back coordinated by Patrick. For the last two jumps the groups went bigger with a 49-way Base and a 51-way group. All the training jumps were amazing, the teams building first classical diamonds, than out-facing ones, than doing the second point on that… just because we could ☺.
On Thursday the morale was high and the team was ready to go BIG. We did three amazing jumps, despite the clouds that challenged us all day but without succeeding to build the diamond perfectly. The front of the diamond did a spectacular job jump after jump. The back had a few 'dramas' and small mistakes to fix. On the first jump we had one person under the formation, on the second one just one damn grip missing and on the third one there was a wave strong enough to break the last 5-6 people in the tail.It was close, very close…
Friday morning welcomed us with a perfect blue sky. The cameramen were especially happy, they could almost see the amazing pictures that they were going to make. The team was excited. We went up… only to have a spectacular build in the front again and an 'impressive' funnel in the back. When a formation as fragile as this one collapses, it does it in style!
Back on the ground and in the debrief room with the organizers stressing again the keys that would make this formation happen – discipline on approach, level, level, level, grip order, NO MOMENTUM DOCKS. They also decided for the next jump to slow down the base a little when the formation was close to completion, to help the outside people avoid the floating problems that were observed. One change was made and the amazing Pete Allum joined the team. We were ready!
One more short dirt-dive and the team was up into the air again. You could feel the concentration and the determination of the people in the airplane. Everyone was ready… and red light… green light, open the door… get ready… and GO!!!
The 100-way out-facing diamond built with the precision of a Swiss clock – or some would say German engineering! ☺. Level. Perfect docks. There was some tension in the back but people fought it like heroes and the Diamond flew for 6 seconds before break-off. Of course we could not know for sure we did it before watching the videos, but it’s always nice to land shouting with joy just because we all felt how amazing the jump was.
The remarks during the debrief were difficult to hear after the first “We did it!”, the team applauding and shouting like crazy and people embracing each other. It was a joy to see the smiles on Dieter, Patrick and Milko’s faces. This amazing team just set a new record – the biggest outfacing diamond ever built. We are happy! We’ll see what challenge the organizers have for us tomorrow. We still have some jumps to do ☺.
“We have been working on this project for many months. We had the DZ’s support. The most important thing was the selection. But the interest for this project was so high that the selection was easy. It is very difficult and expensive to go every time to US for this kind of event and the skills level of the European skydivers is great. The team was complete many months ago.
Even with the high skills of the skydivers taking part the formation was so difficult, so tricky to fly that it was never guaranteed.
“Dieter and I have been talking for some years to do some high challenging events in Europe because there has been a lack of them in recent years. We had an amazing one last year in Empuria, the European Challenge which was such a success. We knew we’ll have a super event and a big challenge for the European skydivers also this year with the D100.“
On the possibility of success: “You have to believe that it’s going to happen. We trusted we could do it. The team was great. But you never know… the weather can play against you, things can happen… With this formation sometimes it was difficult to spot the exact problems, where the waves started, so it was a real challenge.”
“The key of success was slowing down the base when the formation was close to completing. It worked perfectly! That trick and an incredible teamwork made the skydive! It was very important for us to show that Europeans can make this kind of challenging events that you could lately find in US. I am very happy! We are all very happy!”
On the 100-way diamond successful video: “When I saw this video for the first time I said to the cameraman: 'okay… Now I want to see it in full speed'. He looked at me and said: 'this is in full speed!' It was such a beautiful skydive!“
I have been thinking of nothing except this skydive for the last 2 months. I need a few days, a week to let it sink… I am happy about this project!
On the start of the project: “I was initially approached by Skydive Pink Klatovy with the idea to do a challenging formation. Baerchen suggested the dive and I liked it. I called Patrick, then Milko and we started really working on it.“
On the difficult parts of organizing this event: “there were no difficult parts ☺… I was very happy to work with Patrick and Milko, there are the easiest people in the world to work with. They are world class organizers, they know what to do and it is a pleasure to work with them. For sure we will have some new challenges in the future for the European skydivers. We also found here in Skydive Pink Klatovy a great environment. What Thomas Lewerts, 'Baerchen' Jastram and the DZ did for this event was outstanding”.
I had good confidence when I arrived here about the possibility of success, because the people here were very very good. The captains did an excellent job with their choices.
“I had good confidence when I arrived here about the possibility of success, because the people here were very very good. The captains did an excellent job with their choices. I thought that the front of the diamond would be more difficult, but because of the quality of the skills the front was complete on every jump. They did a great job. And this team, like the one in Spain last year, did a spectacular job and we were successful. My job was rather easy, because Dieter did a lot of groundwork, Patrick did the slotting, so I mainly had to take care of the 49-way base.“
On future projects: “Based on the success that we had both last year with the European Challenge and now with D100 – and don’t get me wrong – we were lucky with the weather, with the organization, with the team – everything helps to make an event successful when everything is working well around you – I can say for sure you will see more European projects like this in the future.“
The Complete 100way Outfacing Diamond jump
Planes are like women – they make lots of noise and cost a lot of money… but we still love them
'When Baerchen first told me about this project with a 100-way I told him we don’t have the planes. He told me: 'work on it!'… so I did. I am very happy that Skydive Pink Klatovy was able to offer the platform for the big diamond. I invested 100% of my time and ability to make it happen. I am very proud we hosted this event for some of the best European skydivers. I am very satisfied with the result. I had no doubt of the success. It was one of the most super cool skydives I have ever seen!”.
'Baerchen' is Skydive Pink Klatovy's main Load Organizer – the man with the idea for the event and for the formation – the 100-way outfacing diamond: “I had this idea for many years, to do this kind of jump in Klatovy. So last year I contacted Dieter, worked hard with the DZ to make it happen and we did! The organization was… easy, much easier than I expected. Everybody worked together – the DZ owner, the pilots, the manifest, the captains. We really wanted to offer a perfect organization to the participants. And I think we did!“
With two days left of the event and with the incredible Diamond in our pockets the organizers presented us the next challenge: the team was going to try a 2 points 100-way WITH TOTAL BREAK!!! The cheers of the crowd on hearing the plan were deafening…
On Saturday we did only two jumps; one in the morning, one in the late afternoon, with a lot of clouds watching in between. The jumps were good, but not good enough… On Sunday blue skies told us 'good morning'. The team was determined and energized. The morale was high! Klatovy was going to say good-bye in style.
It’s an incredible feeling to do a jump and feel… perfection… We got the 2 points so easy… We held the second point for a long time. We landed still feeling 'high'. In the debrief room the smiles on Dieter’s, Patrick’s and Milko’s faces were HUGE!
One more jump – OF COURSE we prepared to go for the third point with total break!… Up into the air again… and another perfect jump! I must honestly admit I didn’t think we’d do it… Even after watching the videos the feeling was “… did we really do that?!? I need to see the videos again…”.
There are few moments in our skydiving careers when you feel… truly blessed, incredibly proud and happy. This was one of those moments for me. Amazing things can happen when you put together a great organisation, a great team and you have, as someone once said, all the stars aligned! Thank you Dieter Kirsch, Patrick Passe, Milko Hodgkinson, Skydive Pink Klatovy and all my teammates for creating these pieces of history together!
“To me, this D-100 event was my best event of this kind, and one of the top five in my skydiving career. Last year, the Skydive European Challenge in Empuria, where we made 4 sequential World Records with 106 people, was fantastic, very special and unforgettable. In Klatovy, we added some more magic by making a very challenging formation that skydivers have dreamed about for a very long time. This 100-way Diamond flew so nicely: it was the perfect skydive.
I booked 5 planes for next year for more or less the same dates… so keep tuned!
“We finished the event by touching the deeper meaning of large formation sequential flying. These consecutive 2-point and 3-point 100-ways with total separation between each formation were just perfect, and it showed the true quality of this European group. Organizers of the D-100, Milko, Dieter and I, have the deep feeling there is at the moment a big momentum in the large formation community in Europe for the high quality events. We want to use this momentum to achieve more challenges in the near future. More news to come about future projects that we will organise!“
3-point 100-way, Day 5, 10 August 2014