"The World Team - Fly It Forward 2014

5 April 2014

World Team didn’t complete a FAI sanctioned world record today. The final jump was almost completed, but it fell short by two skydivers that were unable to link up. We are celebrating the 20th anniversary of World Team with this final event Fly It Forward, the way we started it in 1994, in Bratislava, Slovakia. The goal back then was a one-point 222-way and we completed an unofficial 216-way record. World Team’s history is now set, like an oreo cookie, the cream was in the middle. Three major world records were set in the midterm of World Team’s career. In 1999 World team completed a one point, FAI world record, a 282-way. In 2004 we completed an official one point 357-way, FAI world record. In 2006, we beat our own record, with the FAI world record that still stands, a 400-way. The record we attempted to set this week was extremely difficult. In 1994, the goal was just a ONE point 222-way. Today, twenty years late we achieved TWO almost complete 221-way formations in one skydive. Only two skydivers were out, making the final attempt an unofficial 2-point 219-way. The spirit right now is still great. Everyone gave their best. Skydive Arizona was an incredible host. They supported us with 10 aircraft that were flown by their outstanding cadre of pilots in perfect formation. The Alpha team, or bench, stood by all week and for the final jumps, contributed several members to the main team. The nine cameramen on the team shot amazing video and photographs. There were numerous support personnel who supported the team with administration, aircraft maintenance, transport from the various landing areas, packing, food, massages and most importantly – team spirit. There is great camaraderie between these sportsmen and women who worked so hard this week. They maintained through difficult weather delays, which cost the team at least six jumps and the tragedy of an accident to one member of the team. They did some amazing flying and created some incredible skydive formations. The gauntlet has now been passed to the next generation of skydivers.

Text: Gulcin Gilbert

03rd April 2014 – Today was a sad day for the World Team.

by Mansur Mustafin

 

Today was a sad day for the World Team. In the 20 years that our team has been organizing records, we have never had a fatal accident on a record attempt. Safety has always been the number one priority for the team. We lost a dear friend today. This skydiver had a malfunction after opening the main parachute. The reserve parachute was opened too low to inflate. The incident was not related to the size of the group nor were any other skydivers involved. This is the type of accident that could possibly happen on any skydive. It is one the inherent risks of our sport. The whole team met after this accident and amid the hugs and tears agreed to create a special jump, a missing man (sector) formation skydive, to honor our fallen friend. Images by our Camera Team There is always a difficult decision for the organizers to make after a tragedy, to continue to jump or not.In this case, the team, as a whole, decided to keep moving towards the record. After a week of very hard work, early mornings and then having to sit down due to weather, the group had maintained its focus and team spirit. The incremental build of the attempt was just starting to show results. World Team would find another way to honor our friend; we would build the record. However, the goal of the world record would no longer be a two point 222-way. It would now become a two point 221-way. Our friend would not be replaced. The group would continue to hold the slot open in the skydiver’s honor. The largest official big-way sequential is currently a 110-way that was completed by World Team last November in Deland, FL. Anything above that number will be a new record. Every time the team goes up to make a jump, they must hand the judges a sheet with all the names of the participants and a diagram of what the completed formation will look like. The team presented the judges with the new paper work this afternoon for a two point 221-way. Even with a heavy heart, the jumps today were very good. On the best jump of the day, only about ten skydivers were not linked up to the formation. The expectation now is that the record will be achieved in the next 2-4 jumps. Text Gulcin Gilbert

Text: Gulcin Gilbert

02nd April 2014 – DAY 6 – We are getting closer

by Mansur Mustafin

El video aqui https://vimeo.com/90802202

The team was only able to make two jumps today. It was a very early show, at 0630, 222 skydivers, 10 pilots, and a slew of support staff were on hand and the jumpers were geared up ready to dirt dive once or twice before a 0700 launch of the 10 aircraft….and then a 40 mile swath of low clouds passed overhead. Apparently Arizona does have clouds now and then. The captains had a conference and decided to work with a slightly smaller group during the “weather hold” and then launch that group as soon as the clouds passed over. Since there had been some personnel changes in the base and to give the rest of the group the confidence that there would be a solid core for them to build on, director BJ Worth made the decision to practice one dive with the 42-way Base to be docked on by only 66 other skydivers, all the ones in yellow jumpsuits, building on the base, for a total of 108 skydivers in this formation. He also sent up six cameramen to document the results. As the five ship formation turned on “jump run,” the final leg of the flight, before dropping the 108 skydivers, 114 skydivers on the ground got into position, some with binoculars, to watch their brothers and sisters in the air. If the jump was solid, the group knew they would be able to move forward successfully. The skydivers exited and within about a minute, the base built and one by one, the first half of each sector built. A perfect 108-way; the core was solid. A sigh of relief and some whoops followed. The entire 222-way cadre was then loaded up and sent off into the blue about an hour later. The ensuing jump was good. One sector was complete, another almost built – two skydivers short. Each of the other sectors came in at around 20-25 of the 33 skydivers needed for completion. Everyone was enthusiastic about making the next jump…..Unfortunately, high winds were to plague the team once again. The group spent the next two hours dirt diving and laying the whole formation down on the grass, the purpose, to practice the move to the second point. On each jump from now on, the group would be given a “key” (an orange streamer) to move forward to the second point, even it the first point wasn’t complete. Team Director, BJ Worth said, “Its important to get the team into the mindset of making two points on each skydive. I think itt will help them pick up the pace.” The weather is expected to be quite a bit better tomorrow. The team is optimistic as displayed by the following conversation between Dutch team members Marloes Swarthoff and Tom Winkler. Marloes: “It’s hard to get up at 0530, get to the drop zone, gear up and find out that you’re not on the first jump. But I was very happy that my teammates had a good skydive; that we will have a good base and middle to attach onto. We now have something to work with. The wind sucks and so do the dirt devils. But its better that we stay on the ground than risk getting hurt.” Tom: I had a great day. I was on both jumps! Marloes: “Shut the…..” Tom: “I want to feel that magic moment, when everyone is switched on at the same time.” Marloes: “When we succeed, we kind of all know it because it quiets down so much. Its electric! I knew it when the last record I was on was built. It was suddenly got so quiet.” Tom: “And there is this great excitement, but quietly” Marloes: “We are looking forward to that! We are progressing and we will get the record.”

Text: Gulcin Gilbert

01st April 2014 – DAY 5 – Aim is the Point 1

1 April, 2014 by Mansur Mustafin

The team has just come down from its third attempt of the day, practicing the first point of the 222-way skydive formation. It was a good jump but not nearly a completion. They are focused at this point on building a solid 222-way. Once the first point is achieved, the team will make the move to fly the second point. The first point of the day, the base built and the skydivers in the six sectors got close to the base, with some docking. The second jump of the day looked really good. About a 50% improvement over the first one with two sectors completing and other sectors quite close. Our director, BJ Worth, is pleased. The team is progressing on a steady pace. Winds and dust devils, mini-tornados, that frequent the desert, came up a bit on this jump but everyone landed safely. “Several sectors of the third and last jump today looked close to completion but we need the whole formation to build before moving onto the 2nd point,” BJ told the Team Captains. “The 2nd point is a three second move, so it will happen quickly once the first point is built.” After completion of the 222-way, the move to the second point could occur later tomorrow or Thursday. Tomorrow the group has a 0630 show, with the 10 planes launching at 0700. There may be high winds again later on in the day. The team will try to get in 3-4 jumps before the afternoon. Some quotes from the Team Captains and skydivers: Solly Williams from South Africa while debriefing his sector 2, ” You have to have some understanding of where you are relative to the BASE. You have to hold your radial and keep it aligned with the BASE. You can’t just look at the skydiver in front of you. If we’re not building [the formation] straight out from the center, we are infringing on other sectors. Lou Tommaso, sector 2 Captain, “We need to go faster.” Herman Landsman, BASE sector co-captain, “We need to be able to make a clean BASE to keep the fall rate up [for the rest of the sectors].” Rob Laidlaw, BASE sector Captain, “We should have a quick dive down to the formation but then put on the brakes. Don’t get too excited. Don’t “over boogie.” Cameraman, Gustavo Cabana, “ We need to do it again.” Skydiver Chris Gade, “We need what we’ve always needed, a deadline.” [World Team has sometimes completed past records on the last day, sometimes on the last jump.]

Text: Gulcin Gilbert

31st March 2014 – Day 4 – First Record Jumps

31 March, 2014 by Mansur Mustafin

The World Team’s 20th anniversary event, a 2 point, 222-way world record attempt, has completed its fourth day successfully and safely! The day started early as winds were expected later in the afternoon. The base made two practice jumps with only the Alpha team docking as one sector. The idea was to settle out any issues. The base performed solidly on the second jump and the decision was made to begin the first 222-way attempts. The six sectors used their time to debrief the last jumps, dirt dive and make any other adjustments. They were chomping at the bit when they finally loaded all ten planes at noon. The goal for the first attempt was not to try for a completion but to start the build in stages. The base would complete and the “spines,” the inside structure of the sectors, were to connect but the rest of each sector were to hang back, on their radial and just take a look at were they would be docking. The idea was to get everyone in their quadrant, give them a good look-see, with no pressure to dock. It was a confidence building strategy. Director BJ Worth is very pleased with the strategy of the build and the team’s progress. He also made an interesting comment about placement of personnel. “When we first started making records with World Team, we would keep each country group together. A complete sector would be French, another USA, Russian, Latin, etc. It worked well for translation purposes when we gave directions and there was a strong national allegiance and camaraderie in each sector. However it wasn’t always the best strategy for completing a record. For this event, I stuck strictly with body matrix and talent for each slot and for the exit. I broke the French team up into three different sectors. US team members are scattered throughout the sectors and so on. Some sectors were a little unnerved at first but I believe this strategy is part of what is helping us progress at such a good rate. Unfortunately the winds did come up again later in the afternoon, but the group used the time to dirt dive as the complete 222-way and will load the airplanes at 0815 PST, tomorrow morning for the second attempt at a completion.

30th March 2014 – DAY 3 – Training Goes On

31 March, 2014 by Mansur Mustafin

The World Team’s 20th anniversary event, a 2 point, 222-way world record attempt, entitled has completed its third day successfully and safely! The day began with some reorganizing of the sectors. The sectors that had been doing 132-ways on the full base downsized to 90-ways off a mini base and yesterday’s 90-ways were able to practice on the full base as a 132-way. Yesterday the 90-ways completed a first point and today, the 90-ways also completed the first point. Completion seemed to elude both 132-way groups primarily because of problems in the base. There were some personnel changes and towards the end of the jump day the base was starting to settle down. Unfortunately the jump day was cut short by 30-knot winds that came up around 1600 as the Alpha Team was making its third jump. The World Team organizers used this extra hour to dirt dive the 222-way and lay it down on the grass in the main landing area, as there were no jumpers landing due to the winds. The team spent a good hour working on the angles between skydivers, mock exits from the 10 airplanes and practicing the approach to the base. The base will get one more practice jump in the morning with the complete Alpha team docking. Depending on how well the base performs, the first 222-way attempts will follow. There were a couple of jumpers who had to cutaway their malfunctioning main chutes, early in the day but both jumpers landed uneventfully under their reserves. (When the main parachute malfunctions, the skydiver has a release system that is used to jettison the chute and then pulls a ripcord for the reserve parachute.) Other than these occasional problems, everyone landed well and the team enjoyed another safe day of skydiving.

Text: Gulcin Gilbert

29 March 2014 – Day 2 – 132 ways & 90 ways

30 March, 2014 by Mansur Mustafin

Eloy, AZ The World Team’s 20th anniversary event, a 2 point, 222-way world record attempt, entitled Fly it Forward has completed its second day very successfully and safely! After the first 132-way and 90-way attempts, one captains said, “Almost nothing went right. But its like blacksmithing, (forming horse shoes) you have to pound the metal and shape it, it takes a little while and a lot of pounding!” On the second day of the Fly It Forward 222-way sequential event, each team made four jumps; the 90-way team, the 132-way team and the Alpha Team (a group of highly seasoned skydivers, preparing along side the 222-way sectors as replacements. They have to be ready at a moments notice to take any slot on the formation). Each team improved as the as the day progressed. The final photos show completions and near completions. The organizers showed the best videos of each team at a final briefing at the end of the day. The video of the Alpha team’s last jump, a four point sequential dive in which the Alpha team held the final point for several seconds, was shown to remind the main team sectors that highly tuned professionals were ready to replace skydivers having performance issues. It was a gentle but highly effective motivational display. Safety was also stressed at the beginning and the end of the day to reinforce and keep the teams from getting complacent. Jerry Bird, one of the founding fathers of skydive formations, spoke and eloquently reminded the group of the importance of being alert, focused and safe. Tomorrow, World Team plans to continue one more day of preparatory dives, utilizing the 90-way and 132-way format and adding a second sequence on each dive in anticipation of this move when all 222 skydivers are joined together on March 31st.

 

Text: Gulcin Gilbert

28 March 2014 – Day 1 to Start Training Jumps

29 March, 2014 by Mansur Mustafin

Eloy, AZ The World Team’s 20th anniversary event, a 2 point, 222-way world record attempt, entitled Fly it Forward has completed its first day very successfully and safely! On its first official day of working towards the eventual 2 point 222-way, the sun was shining and temperatures were in the mid 70s with light breezes; perfect March Arizona weather. The base 42-way made four very successful skydives and the three groups of 66 skydivers each made three jumps with two complete sectors on each jump docking on a mini base. Between the great weather, superb pilots that flew in formation for all the skydives and good skydiving on part of the participants, our World Team director, BJ Worth was pleased. The seasoned team is already functioning like a well-oiled machine. In the skydiving world, it usually takes three or four days for a team to gel like this. But World Team is no ordinary team; with 1.1 million jumps between them, its almost second nature. The Captains have made the decision to go bigger tomorrow, the second day of the event. Instead of 42 and 66-ways, the group will be creating 90 and 132-ways, a day ahead of schedule. Most likely however, World Team will practice these two formations for two days and the World Record attempts with all 222 participants will still begin on March 31st. The eight World Team aerial cinematographers reported no problems and were able to provide a great video focused on each individual sector. This is critical as the video is used in the debrief for each sector. From these visuals, important engineering changes and improvements are made. Downloads of still photos for each of the Sectors and each Sector Captains is available at under photos: Text: Gulcin Gilbert Photo: Henny Wiggers, David Major Here is the list of Sector Captains and countries: Sector 1 BASE Captains – Rob Laidlaw and Herman Landsman – mixed countries, USA, Russia, S. Africa Sector 2 Captains – Lou Tommaso and Solly Williams (South Africa) – Sector is mostly USA, also a little UK Sector 3 Captains – Patrick Passe (France) Co-Captain – Stephane Mattoni (France) Sector mostly French Sector 4 Captains – Dieter Kirch (Germany, Co Captain Kai Wolf (Germany) Sector mostly German Sector 5 Captains – Pal Bergan (Norway), Captain Sven Mortberg (Sweden) – Sector is mixed but mostly Norway Sector 6 Captains – Alia Veselova (Russian), Captain Andrey Barabash (Russian) – all Russian Sector 7 Captains -Michael Johnston (USA), Co-Captain Alberto Alibrandi (Venezuela) – sector is USA and Latin America

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