By Kelly Brennan – written at start of Day 2 of the Aussie Record camp
Since forming a decade ago, Aussie Bigways has been making its name in Australian record books. And they’re back in Perris, California, this week, aiming for another national record.
The team has already achieved seven national large formation records since 2010. Four of them have been held in the US and three in Australia. This time, they’re aiming for a formation of 120-plus to beat the current 119-way set in Perris in 2015.
Not only can hundreds of Aussies now boast national records, but the team has also changed the face of bigway skydiving in Australia.
Aussie Bigways keep people participating in our sport. About a quarter of the Aussies from the 2010 record event are back in Perris for this effort. Even after big breaks from the sport, or babies, many have resumed their interest in skydiving because of their focus on this record. Not too shabby when skydivers in Australia usually average around 5 years in the sport.
We have raised the bar for event planning. We’ve held annual events for around 100 participants at DZs around Australia. We do tunnel too.. Our team has been spearheaded by a captain, a national mentor/co-ordinator and mentors in each state of Australia. There’ve been monthly meetings for the mentoring team, ensuring a collaborative approach across the country.
We’ve had our own web page with useful articles and videos. (www.aussiebigways.com) along with facebook and twitter. And T-shirts for every event. So many T-shirts! No Australian skydiver would be unaware of our existence!
Global and public attention
We are internationally recognised. Our efforts are published in many international skydiving publications. Aussies are active participants in large FS world records.
The line-up of international ‘Friends of Aussies’ in Perris is impressive. 3 of the Aussies were on the 400-way world record in 2006, along with 7 of the international superstars who signed up for this. The already-awesome P3 team called in friends like Craig Girard to join the mission. We are surrounded by skydiving greatness!
Aussie Bigways is inclusive. This event has men and women aged from 19 (just this week) to 74. Women make up 21% of the team, which is a bit higher than our 15% national average.
107 Aussies converged on California for this year’s trip. To set a new record, we need 120 or more people, including 75% Aussies, in a formation.
Sadly, we lost a few to injury in the months leading up to the record. And, when we got here, the rock-hard ground, changing winds and heavy-weight belts added a few more injuries to the line-up.
The group has also been hit by the usual lurgy that rages through large group camps, so debriefs are accompanied by a loud cacophony of coughing and nose-blowing. Pharmaceutical companies here in California are doing well out of this Aussie visit!
Experience levels in the Aussie camp ranged from 247 jumps to 25,700. Two of the participants signed up when their biggest formation had only been a 9-way.
So far, there’ve been four attempts at a 137-way from 4 Skyvans and 3 Twin Otters at 16,500 feet. Oxygen is being used from 13,500 upwards. It’s a 72-way base group, surrounded by wackers, who were only allowed to take grips from the 4th jump. This ‘permission to dock’ caused the usual frenzy of grip fixation and the result wasn’t pretty. We’re now in day 2 of the camp, determined to find the ‘calm’ that we need!
The team will bring home new skills and knowledge. But, most importantly, we’re aiming to bring everybody home safe, with a new Aussie record to celebrate.
Check it out!
Aussie Big-ways record-breaking history
- 2010, California, 105-way, 109-way, 112-way
- 2012, California, 3-point-54-way*, Pops 42-way*
- 2015, California, 119-way
- 2016, Australia (Nagambie) 2-point 32-way
- 2017, Australia (Moruya) 3-point 32-way
- 2018, Australia (Toogoolawah) 2-point-45-way
*Both listed as Notable achievements due to no FAI Sporting Code category for records