Saturday, November 7, 2009

Lake Elsinore Wingsuit World Record Attempt: T-Minus Zero

Friday, November 6, brought a steady flow of wingsuiters to Lake Elsinore, with every color and brand possible represented. From as far away as Finland, Russia, the UK, South America, Italy, and many other countries represented, this is truly an international event. Flocks could be seen from the ground of various sizes, including a 16 way formation. All in all, it’s been a wingsuit day, even with the large number of British Royal Engineers on the grounds for their AFF and license instruction.

Both Otters were flying at times, and loads are turning fast. Packers on the mat packing furiously, it makes me wonder what’s going to happen when the wingsuit event gets going for real on Monday.

Gilead prepares for his first wingsuit jump

Gilead prepares for his first wingsuit jump at Lake Elsinore

Gilead I, of Tel Aviv, Israel, did his First Flight Course today, and did exceptionally well. It was surprising to see him in immediate control of fall rate and navigation. On his second jump, he was able to dock and punch the suit hard and far.

WWR-Gilead

Gilead flies a wingsuit for the first time.

On a personal note, I truly feel like I’ve arrived back in the world of wingsuiting. Justin Shorb, Scott Callantine, and Andreea Olea (some of my closest wingsuiting friends) did a four way jump with me, with Michal flying video above us. Justin and I twice took docks, but a rapid spin started with both.

Docking with Justin Shorb

The real fun came when break off occurred and we realized we were more than two miles south of the dropzone. We all punched it out hard towards the DZ, only to realize there was simply no way we were going to make it back. The four of us landed in a football field where young men were practicing their game. Scott, Justin, and I all put down on the 50 yard line; Scott swooped from the end zone to the 50. Andrea put it down smoothly on the 30 yard line. We laughed like kids as we gathered up our canopies, and a couple passers-by picked us up in the parking lot for the drive back to the DZ.

Landing in the local football field

Landing on the 50 yard line of the local football field.

What great fun it was, and being with these close friends meant the world to me. It’s still a deep concern being on the healing road and skydiving, but I wouldn’t trade this moment for anything in the world.

We finished the night with a group of us discussing the grid method of measurement for records vs other more ambitious and less creatively controlled methods of flying, where skydivers decide their spacing vs a drawn square. Thinking “outside the box” has a potential for breaking the infant gridlock that we’re currently experiencing as a community. More on this topic later.

It was a great day, a great time on the Elsinore dropzone. And an even better day landing on the 50 yard line of the local high school.

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