As we, the nine remaining candidates, laid down to sleep on Wednsday evening, we knew that jacket day was soon. However, the exact time and experience was still an unknown. We all had our thoughts on when and how our coveted jackets would be presented. None of us could have guessed what the devious Cadre actually had in mind. (more…)
Six weeks have elapsed. Seems an eternity to us as candidates. No doubt even the Cadre are feeling some wear. The good news is we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We know the next week should yield our jackets. We also know many of the things we are doing now are geared to prepare us for graduation. These are all good, motivating thoughts to carry with us. It keeps smiles on our faces and our spirits high. Even though we have been reminded that we can still leave, without a jacket, and well before graduation. So we stay on guard and keep a positive outlook toward the future.
Tony “Smoke” Stewart of NASCAR fame stopped by for a visit this week. It was interesting to watch the Tandem Team and our Cadre interact with a VIP. He was treated as if he was just one of the guys. Respectful, but laid back. An outsider looking in would assume that Mr. Stewart and the Team are old life long friends. He took the time to chat with us lowly candidates. He even popped a smoke canister and played the part of “Honorary Cadre” for a few minutes by yelling at us through the infamous red bullhorn. Naturally we all had a good laugh at our expense, which is usually the case. The Cadre explained that there are occasions where we will be in the presence of well known people. They explained it is important to remember that the Team is known for treating all Tandem Passengers and visitors the same, regardless of their status. It was certainly proven when “Smoke” visited!
Our week was topped off with several Mass Formations. Long debriefs and in depth critiques based on video footage helped us improve from jump to jump. The Cadre never missed a single detail. From grip positions, opened flaps, and smokey goggles. Attention to detail in everything was of the utmost importance in Mass Formations, second only to safety. The rumor is we will be performing a Mass Formation for our graduation jump. We want to make it perfect. The critiques and debriefs are very welcome. Week seven approaches. Night Jumps and Jackets! Bring it on!
Week five has come and gone. As always, the tasks get tougher and the standards increase. It’s a formula we now know well. That doesn’t make it any easier. We have moved on to Mass Formation training. This involves all candidates (the ten of us that remain) and a cadre jumping in one large formation. It’s a nice change of pace from the daily routine of maneuvers with individual debriefs and in-depth critiques. Simply put, the Mass Formations are actually quite a bit of fun. (more…)