All home and working our way back into the swing of things… if only the weather would cooperate. Oh, how we long for the sunny, but sometimes windy, days of Southern Florida where we could climb to all jump levels from the streamer drop to the Tandem heights with relative ease. The forecasting powers-that-be predict more cold, cloudy, and rainy days this week with a glimmer of hope and sunshine coming mid-week but only time will tell the true tale. While we wait for the clear skies and warmer Spring air no time is wasted as families and friends show their appreciation reuniting and catching up on all the events and stories missed during our time away at Winter Training. After the Easter Holiday and Spring Break roll in over the next two weeks more excitement will undoubtedly unfold.
Go faster, go farther, it might sound simple but that is the goal of the canopy piloting team this winter. Two thirds of the competition is about speed and distance. The team has been focusing on the power events this winter with the help of a Flysight GPS tracker. The data gathered has given the team a baseline for their turns. A number that previously was difficult to see with just video debriefs. The GPS has shown the team their vertical and horizontal speeds through every part of the turn as well as the shape of their turns. This information along with a video of their turns allows the team to fully understand what generates the most power for them and provides a goal to reach. That goal is 100mph vertically in the lowest part of their turn, just 250-300 ft above the ground. This speed should translate to about 90mph horizontally at the 1.5 meter high entry gate and help put up the fastest speed times and the longest distances.
How has the training been paying off? In just the second competition of the year SFC Jared Zell flying a new parachute came in 3rd in the distance event, while SFC Greg Windmiller came in 1st in distance and 3rd in speed netting him a 4th place overall finish at the Florida Canopy Piloting Association (FLCPA) Meet 2. Those are quite impressive results for just a few weeks of training.
The training will continue now that the team is back home. The last two meets of the FLCPA and the United States Parachute Association National Championships of Canopy Piloting is in Raeford, NC this June, just outside of Ft. Bragg. With this major competition so close to home the team will focus most of their days at the swoop pond in Raeford trying to go faster and farther.
Maintenance, it never ends, is one of life’s perpetual tasks. We maintain our person, our equipment, and here at Team Six, our Aircraft. These past two weeks we salute our Maintenance Personnel, who work tirelessly (no pun intended… we definitely need tires) to ensure peak levels of performance at all times. This past week, Aircraft # 262, our eldest Twin Otter, went under the ratchet set for her Equivalent Maintenance Maximum Availability Inspection, also known as an EMMA. For you non-Aviation readers, consider this inspection similar to your standard vehicle tune-up and detail. Now, after two months of vigorous performance in the salt-permeated air of Southern Florida, and safely making the trip back home to Pope AAF, “Mr. President,” as many of us dub Aircraft # 262 (named after Former President George W. Bush, Sr.) runs as smooth as ever! Next week our remaining aircraft will return home to Pope and our Maintenance experts will go to task again as always, ensuring safe and efficient vertical transport for our jumpers and pilots. So for these past two weeks, many long-forgotten weeks, and many more weeks to come, to our Maintenance Support Team, we salute you.