The Final Countdown

Ready to Go

(I’ll pause for a moment while you get that godawful Europe song out of your head.  Gone?  Okay, let’s proceed.).

So I had this whole draft written, all about the experience of being on my first for-reals (with training and coach and all) 4-way team, but I scrapped it because all I really feel like writing is SQUEEE I LEAVE FOR NATIONALS IN JUST OVER A WEEK!

What once seemed so far away when we began to form this team just over a year ago is within sight.  Our final camp is done – we did four awesome days at Skydive Perris with about the best weather we could have hoped for in August. Reasonable temps (high 80s/low 90s) and light to moderate winds for pretty much the whole time (with a little of the afternoon craziness, but nowhere near as bad as it can be there in the summer). I even pushed through the last two days with a lovely little head cold, which drained all of my life force/energy, but at least still allowed me to clear my ears and keep jumping. Apparently I was “patient zero” on my team since all four of my teammates succumbed later in the week. If you had any doubt that skydiving teams are like preschools when it comes to germ propagation, well, think again.

Ready to Go

And now we wait. Will we medal?  Probably not, at least not based on our team averages and the typical winning averages in past years.  Will we hit the average we’d set as a goal at the beginning of the year?  Maybe – I firmly believe that if we skydive as well as we can, it’s within our reach.  We’ve reached it on some training days, so we’ve shown we can do it.

I’ll end this post with my plug for USPA Nationals as one of the best skydiving events of the year in the U.S., every year.  Someone once called it the “boogie for type A personalities” and that kind of fits. More than anything, though, I encourage people who are interested in competition to go as soon as you can swing it.  By this I mean – go as soon as you you’ve met the minimum requirements for competing in your chosen discipline (which vary, but are outlined in the USPA Skydiver’s Competition Manual), go as soon as you can swing it financially/logistically. Don’t wait till you think you’re good enough to win a medal. If you’re interested in competing, or even if you’re just interested in getting better at your chosen discipline (training and competing can be a great way to make forward strides), go! The energy there is amazing, the chance to rub elbows with the best in the sport is unparalleled, and you might just find a random top-level competitor watching your team creep and asking “You guys mind if I offer some advice?” The generosity demonstrated by the big names, giving back to those who are just coming up, is pretty cool and amazing to watch, and not something you’ll find in most sports.

BSBD Donald Bragg, Skydive the Farm

BSBDcrop sm

BSBDcrop smOn Saturday, August 30th, 2014 Donald Bragg died from injuries sustained during a jump at Skydive the Farm in Rockmart, Georgia.

Two jumpers were attempting a Mr. Bill*,  with Donald as the third, doing outside video. To the best of our knowledge, the pair exited and deployed. Jumper B was not able to hold on through deployment and fell away. Donald was situated above the deploying main and the jumpers collided hard. Donald had initiated his own main deployment but not in time to avoid the deploying main or the jumper underneath. As a result of the collision both reserves were deployed, resulting in a double two-out scenario. It is possible that Donald was killed in the collision, but at the very least both jumpers lost consciousness. Donald was located by emergency responders and pronounced dead at the scene. The other jumper involved in the collision was transported to a hospital for treatment for his injuries and is expected to recover well.

The incident is under investigation.

We send our sincerest sympathies to the friends and family of Donald Bragg and everyone at Skydive the Farm.

News Reports:,

*A Mr. Bill is when one jumper (Jumper A) holds on to the harness of another (Jumper B), while that one (B) deploys his main. This is typically takes place right out the door, the pair aiming for a sub-terminal opening.  Later on,  jumper A will let go of the harness and fall away from Jumper B, to deploy and land under his own canopy.

What’s in a World Record?


FAIThe World Air Sports Federation – perhaps better known as FAI (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization. They ratify world and continental records and coordinate all international air-sports competitions, including parachuting.

You can view and search parachuting/skydiving records on the FAI website, or check out the short version on Wikipedia. (Jay Stokes will hopefully need an updated entry on that page shortly!).

Records are classified as Competition Records (set during a competition) and Performance Records (records set outside of dedicated competition).

If you have what it takes and want to set a FAI record, this page tells you how you get your ducks in a row for that. To set a one, it’s not enough to go the furthest/fastest/biggest – you have to make sure you are setting a record in an existing discipline/category/event and that you follow proper procedures. You’ll need to know the current record, conduct yourself in harmony with the FAI Sporting Code, have a valid FAI sporting license from your National Airsport Control (NAC) organization, and finally there have to be qualified judges/monitors/official observers on hand to make sure everything is as it should be, and to sign the paperwork.

Once the record has been set, FAI must be notified of your performance within 7 days (there is a form for that). Your local NAC must also be notified, in order to do their due diligence. If everything checks out, they will sign off on your new national record (celebrations ensue). Within 120 days, the NAC must then send the entire dossier along with required evidence (such as the photo of a record big-way) on to the FAI, requesting an approval for a world or continental record. The FAI does their own vetting as well, so some time can elapse from them receiving the claim until the give the stamp of approval.

From here on out, we plan to bring you news and updates any time a record is ratified –  hopefully with a little bit of inside commentary from the record setter(s).  Keep an eye out for the tag “record” on our website or let Google do the dirty work for you.

BSBD Keith Murray, Skydive City

BSBDcrop copyKeith Murray died from injuries following a low turn at Skydive City, Zephyrhills, Florida on Saturday August 23rd, 2014.

Following an uneventful skydive and deployment, Keith initiated very low turn and impacted the swoop pond.  He was immediately retrieved and CPR started. Emergency services took over upon arriving and transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
It is not known why Keith made this turn. He was not a swooper and not known as an aggressive pilot. Keith was current and a capable jumper with over 900 jumps. It is not believed that traffic or equipment were a factor.
An investigation is underway.

We send our deepest sympathies to Keith’s family and friends.

News Reports:,,

BSBD Daniel Pelrine, Skydive Pepperell

Photo by Alaina Bellucci

BSBDcrop smDaniel Pelrine died from injuries following a hard landing on Sunday August 17th, 2014 at Skydive Pepperell.

He was an experienced jumper and is reported to be current and have had around 500 jumps.  The tight knit community at Pepperell remembers Daniel as a one of a kind guy that was an important part of the dropzone life. The Barefoot Boogie (their annual event) is taking place this weekend, offering opportunities to share memories and good times.

The incident is under investigation.  We send our sincerest condolences to Daniel’s friends and family and everyone at Pepperell.

Photo by Alaina Bellucci

Daniel Pelrine – photo by Alaina Bellucci

News Reports:, The Boston Globe