Catching up with… Patrick Passe
What makes Frenchman Patrick Passe one of the most successful world record organizers ever?
On a beatuiful day in August 2015, the Swedish Parachute Association celebrated its 60th anniversery. Swedish skydivers were invited to a formal dinner in Karlsborg, the birthplace of civilian jumping in Sweden and home of the Army's Parachute School. Swedish skydivers with a D license had the opportunity to jump from one of the Air Force's C-130 Hercules during the day. A rare occasion since the last time this was allowed for civilians was at the Hercules Boogie in 2004.
To celebrate the 60 years in style, a group of 60 Swedes were selected to do a demo – a 60-way of course.
Little did the group know that during the day they were up for a great surprise – setting a new National Record…
After a summer with hopeless skydiving weather in Sweden, the sky was blue and temperature high. It got even higher when the mighty Hercules flew over us with roaring engines. Everything was in place for a great day.
More than half of the group had never jumped from the Hercules before and to some their largest formation so far was a 20-way. Without the luxury of making practice jumps together, the ground training had to be rigorous and with high focus.
The tailgate is huge and exit is made in rows with 4 side by side. The challenge is the exit speed – it's much faster than ”normal” jump planes. A thorough briefing was needed to make the exit efficient and safe.
With the Hercules' fast exit speed, the group exit gets very stretched out. Both floaters and divers will have a long way to the base - skills seldom used nowadays with today's skydivers doing most of their skills training in windtunnels.
Stadium approaches are used as the technique to make it to the formation. A soon to be, complete 60-way with the Lake Vättern as a backdrop.
60 years after the Swedish Parachute Association was founded, a beautiful, flat and quiet 60-way was flying over Karlsborg. What a perfect demo jump!
The demo team after landing and a beautiful display of a complete 60-way.
Mission completed for the demo team and time to party the team thought – No, not quite yet…
What no one (except the captains and judges) knew was that we had one more jump to do. The organizers pulled out a surprise out of their sleeves – another jump and we were going for a National Large Formation Sequential Record.
A quick dirt dive with the sequence and the new formation and the up in the air. Without any extra oxygen, the group had to settle for normal exit altitude 4000m (13500 feet). But, no extras needed – everybody followed the plan perfectly and the formation built fast and flew without any tension. So the transition to the second point was no problem.
Success! A new National Large Formation Sequential Record – 2 point 60-way. From the first to the second formation, 24 persons released their grips and took another grip to build a new formation.
The rules says, to make a large formation sequential record, at least 35% of the persons in the 1st formation must release their grips and take a different grip.
The first formation was named Jampan in honor of the famous military safety officer from the Hercules Boogies 1982-2004 (and of course he had this role during this event too). The second formation was named Hågge, after the jumpmaster's boss.
What a day – jumping from the great Hercules, blue skies and a group of happy skilled skydivers. What more could one ask for? The demo team is now ready for a grand party to celebrate not only the Swedish Parachute Assciation's 60th anniversery but a cool record as well.
The organizers Sven Mörtberg and Johan Hansson (along with co captains Mattias Nord and Ulf Liljenbäck,not in the picture) - very pleased with the outcome of the demo jumps. Everything worked out perfectly. The best of all was the great response and interest it created for large formation skydiving in Sweden.
Big Ways in Sweden have had a weary journey for many years. The current Swedish large formation record is a 107-way set from two C-130s flying in formation. The sad part is that this record was made almost 20 years ago! When it was set, it was the largest National record in the world. Since then, we haven't been allowed to use the Air Force's Hercules for these happenings, nor the famous Swedish Hercules Boogies. Along with that, interest for large formation skydiving has gone downhill. The new generation hasn't seen any Big ways and naturally the regrowth has been close to zero.
This is now about to change – Sven and Johan have a plan how to raise the interest and recreate the common experience level by having large formation camps. The goal is set for an all Swedish 122-way in 2017.
Stay tuned for Sweden's come back on the Big Way scene.