Canopy Formation Skills Camp
: 22 - 23 August 2009, Robertson
By André d’Argent,
my first ‘experience’ of
CReW being watching Kevin Burét
and Coenie Thomas do a 2-stack at sunset
over Citrusdal back in the late ‘90s.
This was when I was on progression and
10 000 ft cost R70. “Wow that looks
so peaceful and serene. One day when
I am big I am going to do that”.
These were my thoughts and as in most
cases where my thoughts are involved
I was both right and wrong, but more
of that later. After that fateful day
deliberate canopy collisions showed up
in my skydiving life very rarely in the
form of the odd formation at nationals
or a photograph. The only regular reminder
that the discipline actually still existed
was the desperate measures taken by myself,
and others, to avoid it. This usually
took the form of trying not to get wrapped
by ‘That Guy’. You all know ‘That
Guy’, he/she usually shows up on
the first load of any boogie.
When the e-mail
went out that the SSA was considering
hosting a Canopy Formation Skills camp
at Robertson and would anybody be interested
I remembered Kevin, Coenie and my thoughts
and mailed back “Hell
Yes” and with those two simple
words I set myself up for a reality concept
readjustment of note.
CReW volunteers met with André le Roux and Gerrit Lambert
on Saturday morning for a comprehensive
basic instruction and safety briefing.
We all listened attentively as there
was a lot to learn, even for the basic
instructional things that we were to
attempt. That said the briefing could
be broken down into two basic components.
Clever, safe, fun stuff is ‘Cool’.
Stupid, selfish, dangerous stuff is ‘Not
with Erik Vliegenthart and Al Mc Queen
doing two-way rotations and downplanes. “Wow that looks
so peaceful and serene” I thought,
I mark that moment as the last time I
ever viewed CReW in that way. Pamela
Russell and I were up next. I got André and
Pam got Gerrit. I stressed and sweated
all the way to altitude and, for you
turbine puppies, that is a loooooong
time in a 206. The exit went well, the
canopy slammed open like I was told it
would and I was busy scouting around
looking for André when it happened.
I got hit in the middle of my back by
a red and white canopy that hugged me
from behind with all the unwelcome attention
of an ex-girlfriend that you left town
to avoid. To add to the nasty realism
I also heard the bellowed words “TAKE
ME”. I am not shy to say that for
a moment there my hamster stumbled on
its wheel and years of avoiding ‘That
Guy’ elicited a knee jerk reaction……Take
You? What? Are you Insane? Sod off!!!
Needless to say, I missed the grip. André persisted,
my hamster got back on the wheel and
I got the next one and the next and next
then I docked on him a few times. This
was serious fun, it was great, it was
quite insane. What it was not, was peaceful
and serene. For those of you who have
played rugby it is like an aerial loose
maul. For those of you who have not played
rugby, go do some canopy formation…it’s
like that. I could never have imagined
the level of workload and the steepness
of the learning curve having only watched
it from the ground. How CReW looks compared
to how it feels is as bipolar as signing
up for a first jump course to show your
mates how hard-core you are, only to
find the instructor looks older than
your dad, and less cool.
first jump went slightly differently
from mine. She had a total mal, rode
it down to around 5000ft and then took
a reserve ride scaring the hell out
of Gerrit in the process. Pam claims
the jump was highly informative as
she is now knows she can fall stable,
on heading for 6000ft with both hands
on a pullout puff. She tells me the only
times she stopped trying to pull with
both hands was during alti checks. Pam
then geared up and was on the next load
to try again.
progressed very well and the weather
was excellent other than late afternoon
wind. Brian Baxter managed to break
lines on the first jump of the Sunday
leaving André and myself
chasing toys in the sub-zero air at 06h00
in the morning. Two-stacks became three-stacks
and finally a four-stack. My thanks to
Steve Norris for standing down so I could
have a shot at it.
Thank you to the SSA for allowing us
the opportunity to take part in a skydiving
discipline that, for various reasons,
is not anywhere near as prevalent as
it once was.
Gerrit, on behalf of Skydive Robertson,
well done for your patience and persistence
it was well appreciated by all. Your
decision to have a chilli dinner, on
the other hand, was not.
For all the rest who helped out and
made the weekend happen, thank you.
Andre ‘Dodgy’ d’Argent