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Skydiving under the stars: crafting a night jewel

World’s first night jewel
Image by Brian Raeder

When the sun sets, most people settle in for the night, but for a group of intrepid skydivers, the night is the perfect canvas for a unique thrill. In the heart of Ashland, Ohio, an audacious group of ‘Moonlighters’ embarked on a mission to create something extraordinary.

Skydiving, especially at night, has always been exhilarating. But for organizers Ebby Boehm and Mike Canary, there was something missing. They saw a gap between small, infrequent night jumps and the grand night World Record jumps. So, they decided to bridge that gap, not just for themselves but for all those who love night jumps.

The team’s first camp was in April 2023 at Zephyrhills, Florida, which culminated in a 3 point 10-way formation. But the real adventure was yet to come…

Once upon a perfect weekend

In September 2023, they gathered at AerOhio in Ashland, Ohio, for their second Night Camp. Ebby Boehm conducted a meticulous briefing, emphasizing the unique precautions and preparations needed for night jumps. Safety was paramount.

Day 1 started with a hiccup – a weather hold, a familiar scenario for skydiving events in the Midwest. Yet, the group held out, abstaining from the local pub’s temptations. Their patience paid off when the skies cleared, and they completed a 2 point 14-way formation, setting two Ohio night State records!!

14-way Ohio night state record
Photo by Brian Raeder

After achieving their goals on the first day, a decision loomed on Day 2. Would they attempt to break their own records, following the conventional big-way strategies? Or would they dare to try something more challenging? The organizers, DZO, and key contributors took a leap of faith, setting their sights on a 16-way night jewel.

The first practice jump on Day 2 was far from perfect. But sky ninjas Sherry Butcher and Scott Macario identified and rectified the issues. The second attempt was a success, and spirits were soaring.

Practice daytime 16-way jewel
Photo by Brian Raeder

For many jumpers, this was their first experience with a jewel formation, a cause for celebration in itself. The dream of creating a jewel at night was getting closer.

The first attempt at the night jewel ended without success. But it was promising that the group could navigate funnels at night and land safely by following their breakoff protocols.

After a few jumpsuit changes and a final dirt-dive, the moonlighters were ready to make history. The night was perfect, with a full moon and Jupiter lighting up the sky. As the 4-way base smoothly built the formation, the jumpers put on their best performance of the camp. The formation felt rock-solid, and participants couldn’t contain their joy as screams of jubilation echoed across the night skies!

After the judges reviewed the video footage, a new 16-way Ohio Night State Record was announced, and the team made history.

Camp Kudos

The success of this endeavor couldn’t have been possible without the AerOhio DropZone. Its top-notch facilities, gracious hosts, and dynamic team, including DZO Sherry Butcher and her partner Dave Lepka, played an essential role. Sherry’s multitasking skills, seamlessly managing the dropzone while coaching and flying, and Dave’s safety advice and exceptional piloting skills in the Twin Otter, were instrumental.

The Moonlighters
Image by Brian Raeder

The Rock Stars

  • Ebby Boehm
  • Nicole Brewer
  • Sherry Butcher
  • Mike Canary
  • Randy Carrico
  • Jacob Choy
  • Jim Dolan
  • Stephen Lambino
  • Jay Luccioni
  • Scott Macario
  • Casey Magyar
  • Frank Mazur
  • Bud Prenatt
  • Ben Prichard
  • Brian Raeder (Incredible Videographer)
  • Austin Rosenboom
  • Justin Smieja

QUOTE:
That was the safest I have ever felt jumping at night! I felt confident that I and all the other jumpers had a definite plan for after the canopy opened, which is what completely changed my expectations and confidence in night jumps.

Sherry Schlater Butcher, AerOhio DZO and USPA Regional Director,

Many accolades to Brian Raeder of AerOhio for providing exceptional videography and photography the entire camp.

Anyone who would like more information about joining future Night Jump camps should reach out to Ebby Boehm or Mike Canary, camps are planned for early 2024

Black Skies! 

Night Jewel

Video by Brian Raeder





Meet: Mike Canary

Mike has been skydiving nonstop since 1985. His first home dropzone was GCSPC in Bardstown, Kentucky, where he learned a love for FS, CRW, videography and demonstration jumps.

In 1992 he moved to the Cincinnati, Ohio area where he enjoyed learning 8-12 way sequential and also participated in state large formation records throughout the mid-west and southern US.

2002-2006 Mike was a founding member of the Fastrax skydiving team where he trained in 4-way FS and helped to build their demonstration team. In 2007 Mike started doing tandems and has found joy introducing our sport to over 7,000 people to date.

Mike has participated in the last 5 Night World records . He has recently teamed up with fellow record holder Ebby Boehm in organizing Night Sequential FS Camps. Their recent camp resulted in the Ohio State Night Large Formation and Sequential records as well as the first Night Jewel.

Mike lives in Florence, Kentucky with his wife Amy and his son Andrew. Mike loves his home DZ, Skydive Cincinnati, and also enjoys visiting other DZs to organize and help with tandems.

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