Attendance was down at the Convention this year, but it sure didn't stop those of us who attended from jumping and having a lot of fun. Everyone speculated about the reasons for fewer people, but other than missing a few of their friends that didn't come, everyone said they had a great time skydiving.
The Convention started with a nice storm Thursday night, and there was so much lightning on the river that the Staff barge party had to be moved to a bar adjacent to the barge landing. But the rain lasted just long enough to give most people time to hit the snooze button on the alarm Friday morning, and then the Convention began.
Soon, the entire midwest began to experience a heat-wave, but with lots of announcements telling everyone to keep drinking a lot of water, the jumping continued under perfect skies. No weather holds, no wind holds.
Shortly after jumping ended on the second Thurday, a storm rolled in, but fortunately, water was about all we got. A few small things were blown around, but mostly just a cold front and rain. It all ended shortly, and we had the cool-down we needed. What a relief!
Unfortunately, the Convention did not have a Jet again this year, but the Bombers were there and raffles were held for jumps from these aircraft.
High-speed passes in the Casas were so popular last year that the Casas began announcing regularly scheduled high-speed loads, and since there was no jet for a jet speed star competition, the competition was changed to a high-speed Casa competition.
The Convention Load Organizers kept very busy, both the experienced groups and the novice and intermediate groups. Even more successful big-ways happened than last year, all made from walk-up jumpers:
Chicagoland Skydiving did the AFF instruction again this year and were pleased with their first jump courses and students.
Wendy Faulkner and the the other CRW organizers made plenty of jumps like they do every year including several big-ways. (They land at an alternate landing area and are a quiet bunch so you will have to ask them about everything they did.) I saw a video of Wendy in a downplane, released this first canopy to form a Mr. Bill, and then deploy another canopy into another downplane, perfectly on-heading. (They also said she left the plane with the pilot chute between her legs and holding the canopy.)
The Muff Brothers and Brian Germain's group provided other types of load organizing so that jumpers could try whatever types of skydives they could think of, and Monkey Claw provided head-down coaching and load organizing.
I made 53 jumps this year, a record for me, and organizer Liam "Lemonhead" Brennan set a new load organizer record with 106!
Total organized loads for all of the load organizing groups was around 1475.
Like I said, if attendance was down, how come we jumped so much?!
If you have any feedback you wish to provide the Convention Load Organizers, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org or Gary Peek at email@example.com.