Beaver Bash Flocking Event
sponsored by NZ Aerosports, the SAPC and the SASPC
As the Beaver landed on the dirt strip of SA Skydiving's Langhorne Creek dropzone, excitement levels were peaking for one of Australia's longest boogies, 10 days of planned skydiving action.
The opening weekend was operations as normal, the following 3 days, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were all about flocking with NZA Athlete and SA Skydiving canopy coach Zack Rosser.
Zack, with SA Skydiving's full support have been incubating ideas and developing flocking into a deliverable format for quite some time, so it was very exciting from an operators' perspective to see dreams, vision and a lot of hard work and preparation all start to amalgamate into some epic times under canopy.
Weeks before the event, Zack had online visual resources and videos sent out to all participants covering the objectives of the jumps, safety aspects, signals and jump plans. We ran through these again as a group on Monday and everyone felt very prepared and excited to get to it.
Flocking is emerging as a hot new discipline around Australia, evident by the demand for Zack's courses all around the country. With any new, developing discipline there are risks and as a DZSO, having these thought through and covered with plans of action was a high priority. Zack and I spoke of this from the get go, and I'm very proud to say that as a DZSO and a participant I felt very prepared, equipped with knowledge and a solid plan and evidently the jumps ran like clockwork.
We only got a weather window for 3 flocking jumps out of a planned 15, however the stoke levels were very high from all participants, achieving a huge amount of progression in just 3 jumps and getting a real teaser of what is to come.
We are incredibly excited to support Zack in continuing to develop his flocking and we thank NZ Aerosports for supporting our vision.
From the coach, Zack Rosser
The group of flockers armed with knowledge given weeks prior to the event were all ready to get stuck into some fuck yeah flocks. Unfortunately the weather gods weren't too kind, forcing us to stay on the ground, however may have been a blessing in disguise. This gave the group and I a good opportunity to go over my flocking powerpoint, talk about some safety points and learn from other flocking jumps what the correct/incorrect visuales are when approaching/flying in a formation. The weather forced us to stay grounded for day 1 but sparked the fire in our bellies making us hungry for day 2!
Day 2 brought the complete opposite to the weather forecast which was in our favour! Clear skies and not a breath of air! It's hard during a progression event after you've had weather. Everyone wants to make the most of the short time we have and go for the big jumps. "Why don't we combine the two groups first up Zack?" It was hard to be so disciplined but we started the day by having 2 separate groups of 5 working on demonstrating safe approaches and disciplined flying, which is mainly building trust as a team. Everyone came down nowhere near frothed up, more like close to hypothermia from doing a flocking jump from 14,000ft at -15c. I don't know whose idea that was. We all warmed up, slowing letting the cold out and allowing the froth levels to rise. It was probably the hardest task trying to get everyone to rally to do another 2 flocking jumps!
We decided to combine both groups for the next jump after all participants demonstrated their canopy piloting skills and had gained the leaders' trust for this to happen. My idea was to keep it simple and just have all 9 NZ Aerosport canopies flying together in a static formation super tight and that is exactly what we achieved. The range of colours lighting up the sky as our Crossfire 3's, JFX2's and JVX's soared through the sky as one. Sometimes the most simple jumps are the ones that are the most memorable or visually spectacular!
For our last jump (not by choice - due to weather) so we had some different content i decided to start doing some more dynamic movement, combining both groups , changing leaders and then taking both groups past each other and then into their own group spiral. Even though we only did 3 jumps, boy were they good quality jumps which left so many wanting more! Thanks to SA Skydiving for letting me fly our nylon through the sky and thanks to NZ Aerosports for supporting the event and myself in this exciting journey.