Five Minute Call | Jul 01, 2020
Skydivers Over Sixties Do a Zoom-Way

Doug Garr

Skydivers Over Sixty had planned to hold its 20th annual Record Week at Skydive Perris in California in May. The jumpers hoped to eclipse the 66-way SOS World Record for Largest Formation Skydive, as well as set Jumpers Over Seventy and Women Skydivers Over Sixty records. But when the pandemic shook the world in March, organizer Carol Jones reluctantly cancelled and wondered how she could generate the aprés-jump camaraderie that normally accompanies the get-together.

SOS member Fred Bremer suggested that Jones stage a virtual formation—an SOS Zoom-way—with the goal of connecting 100. (Is there any more appropriate name than “Zoom-way” for a bunch of skydivers hooking up in cyberspace?) However, neither Jones nor Bremer was familiar with digital online meetings, and they couldn’t access any grandchildren to get themselves up to speed. So, they began with a two-way sequential (lots of points), and when that worked, they invited a few more people. Everyone was excited just to see each other’s faces.

Jones then scheduled an 80-way, with the idea of everyone picking a slot and joining in stages, as if they were docking on the real deal. This last notion turned out to be impractical, and so a zoo dive ensued. Twelve skydivers either went low or forgot to exit, and Jones waved everyone else into the 68-way.

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For the 100-way a week later, everyone just grabbed their slot at the exit time. The formation design was sent out, folks picked their slots, learned their time zones and set calendar reminders. Folks from all over the world joined in—Australia, Canada, India, Scotland, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the U.S. The manifest featured people who had been jumping for 30, 40 and even more than 50 years. Some hadn’t made a jump in decades but still had the skydiver DNA, others were current world-record holders.

The 100-way build was rapid at first then slowed as stragglers who had been struggling with internet issues got on. Near the end, Jones needed a few more to reach 100 and she announced, “If anyone out there has a spouse who is over 60 and has made at least one skydive, bring them in. They only have to touch to make the formation!” The result was a 100-way plus video. With 100 people in a chat room, no one got to say very much, but it was fun to scroll thru the pages and see the faces of old and new friends. There wasn’t much to do or say, so everyone waved and then waved off.

Since no one spent any money on jump tickets, Jones suggested that they make a donation equivalent to one jump ticket to the International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame. She raised more than $1,000 and will purchase one of the museum’s commemorative bricks with the proceeds. To further commemorate the formation, Bremer even designed an SOS 100-way Zoom patch.

Doug Garr | D-2791
New York, New York

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