The World Free Fall Convention unfortunately no longer exist but I still get together with some of my old WFFC friends annually in Ft Dodge Iowa. In 2013 I had a little extra fun on one of the jumps at the event and captured it on video with a helmet mounted "Contour" camera. You get to see that jump on youtube here.
The main parachute opened but with a lot of line twist which worsened after opening. I initially tried to clear it but once I started feeling the G force in the harness caused by the sprialing decent I gave it up and chopped it. Fortunately I recovered my main, free bag etc and I of course held on to both the cutaway and reserve handle. These are too expensive to toss! This was my secondary rig so I didn't bother with a reserve repack, figure I'ed wait unti spring... that way this ended up being a free reserve ride!
From left to right, myself, Bob, Steve (aka Fish), and Charles ready to jump the DC9 at the 2006 World Free Fall Convention. Thanks Fish for sending this photo!
Yet another WFFC has come and gone. The convention is unfortunately getting smaller each year these days. At it's peak, there were about 6000 jumpers from all 50 states and over 50 countries but this year I doubt there were much more than 1000 jumpers. The lack of the B727 jet and other specialty aircraft have left the convention with nothing unique to attract jumpers. Still, those of us that went this year did have a great time. I got in 46 jumps throughout the event and even wore my camera helmet on a few of them. A few of the photos are below. I'm not in any of the photos, I'm on the other side of the camera in all of them.
1987, just before the first jump! They threw me out of the plane on an old T-10 on a static line and with a belly reserve! Those guys were running a little behind the times! Sprained an ankle on the landing but hey, what the heck, I had fun anyway!
A few weeks later, I made my first free fall! Alec in the foreground was my secondary instructor on this "AFF" jump. I was so busy thinking about where to keep my arms and legs that I forgot to arch so almost as soon as we left the plane it was ground, sky, ground, sky, ground, sky...tumbling all the way! The primary instructor Rick, ("Rick Skydiver" or, "Risky Skydiver" as we call him) couldn't hold on and let go and finally I was falling back to earth in a slow turn while Alec attempted to yell, "Arch"! Of course in the 120 mph wind you can't hear anything so I asked, "pull"? "No, ...ARCH"! This went back and fourth a few times until finally at about 3500 ft by altimeter (which was on my belly in the burble causing it to read high) Alec nodded yes, pushed away from me and watched me pull. Somehow it managed to open flipping me upright instantly and busting my lip with the altimeter. When I landed my two instructors legs were shaking! I was all excited, ready to go again but they weren't quite up for it at that moment;-)
On my 17th jump I had my first reserve ride! It was a, "pilot chute in tow". This is when you throw the pilot chute and it doesn't pull the pin. The pack stays closed! At that time I was using an old round reserve which slammed me in like a ton of bricks breaking my left ankle. Oh well, I had fun anyway! Two other reserve rides since then, including a really exciting horseshoe and a really cool spinning malfunction, resulted in soft landings under square reserves. "There's nothing more beautiful than an open reserve"!
Actually while it can be a little scary while it's happening, a reserve ride really adds a lot of excitement to a jump. Of course after you land you have to chase down your main and your reserve pilot chute and free-bag. It can be an expensive jump if these are not recovered. Then you have to find an FAA licensed rigger to repack the reserve... All this gives you plenty of reason to make every effort to get the main open! Remember, altitude below an open reserve is wasted! And, protect your Gear...injuries will heal, but equipment has to be repaired or replaced!
That's me on the left sticking my tong out at the camera man. Good camera awareness, that's important! Ok, altitude awareness is somewhat important too.
The last day of the 2003 World Free Fall Convention. A lonely runway with only Mike Mullins King Air sitting off to the left. Mikes always the first and the last to fly at the Convention.
In 1992, a historic event...The World Free Fall Convention makes a Boeing 727 jet available for sport skydiving for the first time! There is a little bit of D. B. Cooper in all of us! Exit speed, 155 knots...heck of a wind blast! For the last couple years the jet has been absent for various reasons including insurance problems and also problems with the FAA. (Fed's Against Aviation)
The 1960's TV series, "Ripcord" got me interested in Skydiving as a child. I didn't get around to doing it until 1987 when I finally made the first jump. Work prevents me from jumping as often as I would like but I never miss the World Free Fall Convention now in Rantoul, IL every August.
I typically get about 50 jumps in over the 10 day event and a lot of partying! Live bands and free beer every night!
On the way to the Convention! (back when it was still in Quincy)
The Bell 412 at the World Free Fall Convention. When you get to altitude the ride is over. The jump is just how you get off when the ride ends. Rod has to be one of the best chopper pilots anywhere! He takes you on a high speed tour of the corn fields you won't forget. Hard banking turns almost chop the tops off the corn with the rotors. He jumps over tree lines, he pulls straight up then making a hammer head stall and heads straight back for earth again. This is definitely the E-ticket ride of the Convention! You can view someone's youtube (not my video) of Rod's Ride here... Watch this video, this was the most fun ride on the planet! I would have to look through my old log books to see how many times I did this but it wasn't enough. I hope it's available again some day.
The 727 at the World Free Fall Convention.
Me leaving the 727!
Last year I had a little trouble with an 18 wheeler about 30 miles south of Oklahoma City. The traffic in front of us stopped, I stopped, the 18 wheeler didn't stop. The trip to the 2003 convention was much more uneventful. I made 60 jumps over the 10 days and had a blast!
For more information about skydiving contact the USPA.