by Cris G - email@example.com
All in all, Quincy was a pretty good time, but I don't know if I'll go next year. The novelty seems to have worn off for me. It's such a hassle to get to the middle of nowhere to jump out of the same planes I could jump out of in three hours by driving to Carolina SkySports.
The wait for the planes got a little long at times (up to 45 minutes on Thursday), but luckily, the jet was canceled and a lot of people left. After the jet announcement on Friday, there was no wait for any of the planes. In fact, Paul Fayard shut down three of the Casas. At peak, they were running four Casas and four Otters. They even ordered in one of the Otters from Roger Nelson who was hosting a "screw Quincy 10 dollar jump weekend" or something of the sort. Apparently getting the Otter was like pulling teeth. But I wasn't there. I only got the info from the rumor mill. Much like the jet information and the "fatality" information. The fatality information was interesting as many people misheard the announcement over the PA. One person even mentioned that being nicknamed "Shamu" was probably worse than "going in". Shamu was an inflatable whale, but that wasn't made abundantly clear during the announcement. I laughed.
The weather was rainy and then hot and then windy, and then hot--and then rainy and then hot again. It made for an interesting smell near the mud pits. It smelled more like a horse track on some days. Most of the time it just smelled like the heaps of garbage that everyone so graciously threw on the ground around their tents and in the entertainment tent. I'll retract that statement. The garbage didn't smell. There was just an abundance of it this year. Mostly bottles and cups everywhere--enough to bring any Native American to tears. It's bad enough that people subjected themselves to nature and its whims for ten days, but then to add the garbage to the mix was uncalled for. I was amazed at how little respect for the environment there seemed to be this year. It was nice to see some of the Quincy locals repaying their debt to society by spending their community service cleaning up after the skydivers. I laughed.
There were more police at the event this year than I'd seen before. Actually, there have been very few police at the event in the previous two years and when they did make an appearance it was because they were needed (citing the golf cart races of '99). This year they had a huge presence as they rolled around in their little police golf carts. I wonder if this was one of their reasons for joining the force? They also had a car parked at the front gate. It became necessary one night as some drunken woman was ejected from the event because she was being a bit unruly. I laughed. She didn't think it was all that funny. I always laugh at drunk people that are threatening to sue security for ejecting them. My wife laughed too. The fat drunken lady called her an ingrate. We laughed even harder.
Friendly people abounded. I was impressed this year by the friendliness of the people that I met. 'Cept the golf cart drivers. They seemed to forget that their manuals told them that PEDESTRIANS ALWAYS HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY. Sometimes they would ask you to step aside (into the mud) so that they could get by. I guess they didn't want to get mud on their golf carts--except when they were driving them through the mud pits on purpose. To each their own. This year I learned an important lesson. "Some people come to the convention to skydive and others come to say "Muff Muff Muff". I was much more tolerant this year than previously. I even went as far as to say "muff muff muff" a few times when passing Johnny (still don't know his last name). Almost everyone was inviting and friendly. I did a couple medium (15 or so) ways with strangers. One of the funniest lines from the convention came from someone who approached our dirt dive and asked to join. He said "what are you looking for, skill or weight?" and the organizer said "what have you got?" and he replied "weight". I laughed.
I saw more naked people during the day this year than the previous two years. Probably because of the weather.. And the mud.. And the wind. Bored skydivers lose their sense and clothes pretty quick when they can't jump. The mud wrestling was entertaining for about ten minutes. It would have been more entertaining had the clothes come off five minutes sooner.. but beggars can't be choosers. Zabo was right in the middle of that stuff with the camera. He got some great footage. Much better than the footage I shot from about 50 feet away. Even with 120x zoom, muddy naked people don't look nearly as good from that far away. Zabo, as always, was a great guy. I enjoy talking to him. I firewired him some clips that I shot. Three naked women getting off the helicopter and a close call I had under canopy when someone went sniveling by within ten feet of me. Nothing like a little adrenaline to top off a sunset load. Zabo and I watched the video. He said, "What am I supposed to be looking for?". At that point, the person falls right in front of my canopy. His eyes got wide. Then we laughed.
I'm surprised the story hasn't been relayed yet, but someone almost flew into the prop of a loading Casa. It was amazing to see. I was right behind him under canopy and saw the whole thing unfolding. He was heading straight for the grass landing area across from the loading area. He got fixated on the Casa and his possibility of a cross-wind landing and he started veering to the right. 64 jumps and attending the world freefall convention. Maybe the rules should be changed slightly? It was amazing to watch. Right towards the spinning prop. During his flare, he realized that he was going to become ground beef and he stopped his flare and fell about 10 feet to the tarmac. His canopy covered the nose of the Casa. Dewey (the pilot) shut down the engine and Georgie Gelardi and one of the S&TA's ran out and dragged the jumper's scraped ass from in front of the plane. The plane wasn't even moving when all this took place. Had it been, it would have been the worst thing I had ever seen. Kudos to Georgie, the S&TA and Dewey for their quick reflexes. My wife said "he had schlotsky's on the brain". We all laughed.
The kids at the demonstration field were a riot. They all seemed to have "pull-up cord" on the brain. Some of them asked "Can I have your rip cord?". It was cute. I always made sure to take at least one when I was going to land there. After giving away all of my pull-up cords one little girl, probably 7 years old, asked for a pullup cord and I explained that I didn't have any more. She then asked for my goggles and I told her that I don't use goggles, I wear a helmet. She asked for my helmet. I laughed.
I told my wife about looking for Peanut and Jan during the convention. Jan was easy to spot. I think I took her by surprise when I introduced myself. I dyed my hair purple for the convention. Not just a daily thing. I had it bleached white (I have dark brown hair) and then professionally dyed purple. The sun was bleaching it at the convention and half the way through I had to get more purple dye. She said "How was I supposed to recognize you with your hair purple?" I laughed.
One time, after landing at the demonstration field, my wife called me over to see the name "Peanut" autographed on the back of some kids shirt. I reminded her of the odds of the nickname "Peanut" in middle America. We laughed.
I ran into Tom Sanders at the Casa loading tent and introduced myself. Just wanted to let him know that I appreciated his work. He told me about some clips that he put together from the 282-way and how he was going to be showing it in the entertainment tent later that night along with the Quincy '99 video. I told him that I had the Quincy '99 video back at the hotel and would probably have a viewing later that evening. We laughed.
The bombers were cool to see in flight. From the ground. I lead a fairly comfortable life but there is no way in hell I would pay that much to jump from a plane.. Others don't agree. A lot of people jumped from them. I'm not into nostalgia. I'm into "bang for my buck". Another funny moment from the convention was when they announced a flyby of specialty aircraft and then it had to be aborted because of the canopies in the way. I'm glad I wasn't one of the guys under canopy that had a B17 or B24 flying straight at them. We all laughed.
Mike Mullins, not to be outdone, joined the convoy and flew up in between the bombers. Damn that man is a workhorse. It's amazing that a plane can take that much punishment and still perform the way it does. What a great plane. Kudos to the pilot and his mechanics. What a reliable team. Bad weather, Mullins still flying.. Rain.. Mullins still flying. End of the convention.. Mike was still flying. I was getting on the commuter back to St. Louis and looked out the window. Mike was still loading jumpers on the plane. I laughed.
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