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Hercules 60-way Surprise

Words by Sven Mörtberg

The Swedish Parachute Association celebrates its 60th anniversary with a nice flying 60-way formation.
Swedish Parachute Association celebratory 60-way for its 60th anniversary — Image by Andreas Henriksson

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…

A great sight for a skydiver – Blue skies and a C-130 Hercules coming to pick you up
Blue skies and a C-130 Hercules coming to pick you up — Image by Andreas Henriksson

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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.

The tailgate of the Hercules – huge!
The tailgate of the Hercules – huge! — Image by Anders Nyqvist

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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.

A challenge doing big ways from the Hercules is the exit. On jumprun, it flies faster than normal freefall speed which makes the exit really spread out. Not ideal for big ways, but getting out the huge tail gate and riding the brutal wave behind the Herc is just pure fun!
Square to the relative wind with arms in is the proper way exiting the Hercules  — Image by Anders Brouzell

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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.

The exit speed for the Hercules is fast which makes the group exit very stretched out.
Exit speed for the Hercules is fast, making the exit very stretched out — Image by Anders Brouzell

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 to the formation
Stadium approaches to the formation — Image by Patrik Nygren

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.

Completion – a 60-way on the 60th anniversary of the Swedish Parachute Association
Completion – a 60-way on the 60th anniversary of the Swedish Parachute Association — Image by Mikael Söderberg

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!

Perfect 60-way, but a surprise was announced – another jump going for a 2 point record
Perfect 60-way, but a surprise was announced – another jump going for a 2 point record — Image by Mikael Söderberg

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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.

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Image by Mikael Söderberg

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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.

Happy group ready for a grand party - SFF 60 years and a 2 point 60-way record
Happy group ready for a grand party - SFF 60 years and a 2 point 60-way record — Image by Patrik Nygren

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Did you know?

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 are very pleased with the outcome of the demo jumps. A Hercules, blue skies and an eager group of 60 skilled skydivers – what more could you ask for? More to come in the future :)
Happy Sven Mörtberg & Johan Hansson - a C-130, blue skies and a record. More to come — Image by Anders Nyqvist

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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.

For many years now, civilians haven't been allowed to jump from the Hercules – the last Hercules Boogies was 2004. Interest for Big Ways has almost died so new skydivers don't see Big Ways and regrowth has been close to zero. This will change – Sven and Johan have a plan how to recreate the common experience level. An all Swedish 120-way in 2017 is the goal. Stay tuned for the Swedish Phoenix
In 2017, the goal is a all Swedish 120-way — Image by Andreas Henriksson

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.

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