What should a demo team do when two of its members will soon hit the 5,000-jump mark? Plan something a bit special, that’s what!
The Blue Skies Parachute Team gathered at Skydive Spaceland–Dallas in Whitewright, Texas, to celebrate the 5,000th jumps of members Garth Harley, D-16014, and Tom Schroder, D-3025, by making an old-style baton pass (with a few upgrades). Following a six-point practice jump, the team—Harley and Schroder, Jim Brewster, Scott Hamlin, Larry Henderson, Marc and Cassi McGahee and Matt McManus with camera flyer Dave Ryder—posed for the obligatory group photo, grabbed the baton (with two sets of 5,000-jump wings attached), strapped on some EG-18 and CM-75 smoke systems and headed for altitude. Local camera flyer Peter Kwon also went along to get shots of the action.
Wearing red smoke easily visible from the ground, the team exited the Twin Otter at 13,500 feet. The first point was a nice 8-way round that transitioned into an 8-way diamond with Harley and Schroder holding the baton between them at the front of the formation. On signal, the entire team moved into a tracking position and, trailing smoke until breakoff, tracked the diamond for the horizon. After landing, the celebrants gathered for more photos, during which time two pies appeared from out of nowhere to add to the celebration.