Catching up with… Patrick Passe
What makes Frenchman Patrick Passe one of the most successful world record organizers ever?
Although there are a plethora of big-way FS events on the skydiving calendar, there is nothing like the Perris Spring Fling. It’s only one I can think of that offers 3-aircraft formation loads every day. This annual gathering of the clans from around the world celebrates formation skydiving with a bunch of fun and challenging formation loads. A Skyvan and two Twin Otters lifted 56 great jumpers to 16,000 feet for every skydive.
Dan BC, Doug Forth and Larry Henderson ran this third event in a row at Skydive Perris, following the P3 May big-way camp and 100-way camp.
We met on Thursday 19 May and began with a dive that was to set the scene for the jumps to come. Rather than docking on the formation when we arrived, we were all to set up exactly in position, then – on the command from BC – all turn simultaneously and take our grips. On viewing the dive we were asked to repeat it, with even closer proximity in the no contact.
This made sure everyone had their fall rate tools perfectly adjusted. It drilled in the importance of perfect set-ups, and flying your torso to exactly where it needs to me before making any heading change (such as outfacing). It also dialed in the need to look through the base right to the other side of the formation, to keep its symmetry and integrity. This formation had intentionally been designed with very long limbs, which have a tendency to become very un-level; the only way to build a lovely formation was with supersonic eyes!
Thus with this apparently simple jump important foundations for the complicated shapes to come were firmly laid.
This was one of my favorite dives, for the sheer cheek of it. First we made this very beautiful formation, then there was a second point surprise…
We’ve all built star-style formations around a base as a second point – but around an in-out??!! The 8-way snowflake base transitioned to an in-out while we (almost) encircled it. The base had cleverly sneaked in some practice at this maneuver while the rest of us were tracking off.
Even though the second point did not complete on either jump, this to me was one of the highlights of my event because it was just so damn cool!
This big open diamond took a lot of referencing, to line up with two rows of people, built on the second attempt.
This wheel of misfortune was a complete bastard! After some valiant but unsuccessful efforts at construction, we moved on when we all hated it! I like that about the Spring Fling, there are so many different big-ways to do that we don't have to keep bashing our heads at one puzzle. We’re here for fun and that is maximized.
We only had one shot at this charm of a formation, another jump and we’d have nailed it for sure.
Biggest formation: 57
Average age: 50 (range, 24 to 69)
The world class camera team – Craig O’Brien, George Katsoulis, Terry Weatherford and Luciano Bacqué – uploaded video to skydivingphotography.com immediately after each jump. These amazing photos are from a photo package of over 200 ‘herographs’, included in the event price.
As usual, Skydive Perris was the perfect setting. Each night was Happy Hour by the pool or in the bar, the perfect lubricant for catching up with the many old friends from around the globe. Saturday night featured an event banquet, and the atmosphere was just brilliant.
Safety was excellent throughout, with no injuries and everyone taking a very proactive role in safety reinforcement. P3 jumpers are all now indoctrinated with Dan BC’s malfunction motto, “If you’re even thinking ‘is my canopy good?’ it’s not good. Don’t waste any time thinking, start your emergency procedures.”
It sounds quite funny when Dan has a room of very experienced skydivers parroting back to his questions like a Sunday School class:
Dan: “You’re not getting any love from your main canopy –what are you going to do?”
All, Chanting: “GET RID OF IT!”
But the proof of this method was seen here and I’ve experienced it personally at other events, you look up at a ‘not-good’ canopy, Dan’s words echo in your mind and - believe me – you don't waste any time.
The one and only Dan BC, who led the charge, never tires of the sheer enjoyment of skydiving; his enthusiasm for life the sport and everyone around him is infectious and inspirational. This man is a legend for good reason.
We lost Dan for a day when he went to his daughter, Chloe’s graduation, watching her step on stage and accept her college diploma, graduating with honors. He was so damn proud when he returned! His chest was puffed out like a balloon, he looked way more chuffed (satisfied) than when winning World Championships, or clinching that world record. So sweet. Well done Chloe!
As this is being published the P3 Skydiving team are beginning Power Play, a high level level big-way event beginning with 16-ways and ending in an 80-ish-way. This will include the wedding of Belgian-Canadian jumper Celine Pelletier and George Katsoulis, cameraflyer and the man behind skydivingphotography.com. They are to be married on Saturday 25 June, high over Skydive Perris on the tailgate of a Skyvan – by Chris Farina – then build this beautiful heart formation in celebration. Let’s all raise a glass to George and Celine on Saturday, wherever in the world we are, and wish them every happiness.
More big-way events at P3 Skydiving