Dreams Can Come True!

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It's all about the Base!

On May 31st at 16:19 pm I made the following post to Facebook:
The last attempt is rolling down the runway as I type. These wonderful people have done multiple dives with one person out (no, not the same person). They have been on the Dropzone for 12 consecutive long days enduring cold, wind, wet and now high heat and their smiles have not faded. They have trained for years and traveled thousands of miles to earn the right to be on this load.

The Aussies who have been set down for the load either due to injury, sickness or performance, plus non jumping friends and family just joined the last huddle and then high fived each record participant as they walked to the seven planes that will carry them high above Perris.

Each person on this dive has EARNED the right to be here and has done their job multiple times. They deserve this record. We will know in about thirty minutes if dreams come true.

Less than one hour later we would know the answer, but the story started years before…

##Aussie invasion 2010

The Aussie skydiving community has long had a great relationship with the P3 organizing team based in Skydive Perris, CA. 2010 was the first Aussie invasion, resulting in an unprecedented three records in three jumps on, you guessed it, the last day, the largest being a 112 way. In 2012 a smaller team descended into California for general big way training towards a new goal—a new Aussie National record to be set in 2015. Led by Greg Jack and a team of talented and passionate fellow jumpers the training and planning commenced. Even the APF (Australian Parachute FederationAPF) got in on the act, helping to sponsor all jumpers who committed to all three camps.

##Aussie return 2015

This year’s record attempts brought 115 Aussies to Perris. A carefully planned schedule of 3 camps (3 day, 3 day and finally 4 day for record attempts) was drowned by unseasonable winter weather. Instead of bikinis the Aussies were seen wearing everything they brought to fight the cold, wind and wet. The planned days off went away and the team spent 12 consecutive days in a row at the dropzone, many from dawn to dark, in the hopes of getting even one jump in. The team enthusiasm never wavered and the Aussies were always present at each morning call and dirt dive early and ready to go. Multiple seminars were given during the non-jumping hours and many hours of coached tunnel time were used by the Aussies to keep focused for the goal of a record.

##Big Way camps

The camps were important as many of the team arrived with limited big way experience due to the smaller aircraft size in Australia. Multiple big way camps had been held through the past year led by P3 coach Larry Henderson in multiple areas of the country but this still did not substitute for experience from multiple aircraft. Many of the Aussies had lower jump numbers, which only increased their enthusiasm. The training days were essential to bring the team up to speed. The P3 team started the group with 16 ways and built up to 60 ways on the Thursday before the last weekend. Friday was the first day with the full complement but only the 48 way team was allowed to take grips — giving the outside whackers practice at building the stadium, matching the fall rate, and forming tracking teams.

Base 6-way for the prep base jumps

##Friends of Australia

APF Regulations allow for 25% of their records to be non Australians. The FOA (or friends of Australia) slots were hot items and were filled by jumpers from 11 other countries—all happy to have the honor of being part of the new Australian record.

##Record attempts

Injury, illness and performance pared the numbers of the Aussies down to less than 100 and the FOAs filled the remaining slots. On Saturday morning the entire team was given permission to dock perfectly. The jumps proceeded well, with the standard ups and downs of a learning curve. One of the funniest was when a mistimed exit resulted in the entire right trail Skyvan emptying seconds before the base left out of the lead plane. Despite the timing issue almost all of the jumpers from the early airplane got back into the stadium and proceeded towards their slots — floating practice and seminars on the previous days had paid off!

##The final hour

Finally, before the last possible attempt on Sunday, the group came together for one last huddle before loading the aircraft. All Aussies —whether on the jump or in the air — were invited to join in. Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld gave an incredible pep talk summing up the event— record or no this would be without doubt a safe, rewarding and successful event. Then one solo voice shouted “Aussie Aussie Aussie!” 160+ voices responded as one, “Oi Oi Oi”. While this sounds trite in typing I can assure you that this was an amazing experience—goosebumps and all.

The team was accompanied to the aircraft by ground supporters, many of whom were sporting various gold and green clothing, inflatable kangaroos, and the multiple tiny Koalas found clinging to many places on the dropzone. The seven aircraft (3 x Skyvan and 4 x Twin Otter) climbed to altitude, and we waited.

Happy jumpers saluting our fabulous pilots

A ground-to-air radio relayed Dan BC’s exit count and the formation slowly and steadily grew. It looked good. Really good. After tracking off and deploying we could hear various whoops and hollers and Dan transmitted “I think we’ve done it”. Mass chaos ensued on the ground and the triumphant jumpers were greeted as they walked back by hugs, cheers and tears. While the video and stills looked great, the pending record still needed to be ratified by the Australian judging team, on call in the middle of the night. A tense but tentatively jubilant hour progressed, with people packing up their gear and pacing nervously in front of the meeting area.

Finally Greg Jack came out of the judging room and asked all the Australian and P3 organizing team to join him on the deck. He then declared that a new Australian record 119 way had been set. And Dreams Can Come True.

###P3 organizing team and coaches

Dan Brodsky Chenfeld
Kate Cooper-Jensen
Jen Domenico
Tony Domenico
Doug Forth
Larry Henderson
Tom Jenkins
Mark Brown
Lesley Gale
Josh Hall

###Australian organizing team

Team captain Greg Jack was supported by an awesome team of Aussie coaches leading up to the event, including national FS champions and skydivers with bigway world records.

###Camera Team

Craig O’Brien
George Katsoulis
Luciano Bacque
Juan ‘Melon’ Mayer
Norman Kent
Dave Kerr

Meet: Kate Cooper-Jensen

Kate Cooper-Jensen started skydiving in 1978 and quickly became a prominent figure in the sport. Kate founded P3 Skydiving, together with Tony Domenico, the first big-way skydiving school, and has helped countless people achieve their big-way and record dreams.
Kate has been a participant and many times an organiser in over 30 World and National Records.

Organizer of numerous women's world records including 118-way (1999), 132-way (2002), 151-way (2005), 181-way (2009). Sequential women's world and open world record 117-way (2014), Sequential women's European and World Records 2-and 3-point 46-way, (2016); 2- and 3-point 56-way, 2016 and 3 x 60-way (2018).

Raised 1.9 million for breast cancer charities. Recipient of the USPA gold medal for meritorious achievement (2015). Inducted into Skydiving Hall of Fame (2019).

Kate is sponsored by Skydive Perris, Aerodyne, Kiss, L&B altimeters and Vigil.

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