Features | Oct 01, 2019
Welcome to the Apocalypse—The Big O Boogie

Matt Fry, Katie Hansen

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The name of this year’s giant boogie at Skydive Orange in Virginia—the Apocalyptic Big O Boogie—could not have been more fitting. On the evening of August 16, the second night of the 5-day boogie, instead of playing in the planned tribal dodgeball tournament, the boogie-goers took shelter in the hangar as tornados ripped through central Virginia. The winds shredded vendor tents, ripped airplanes from their tie-downs, leveled tent city and demolished large trees. Jumpers barricaded the hangar doors to block the wind and torrential downpour. That’s when the power went out. Nonetheless, the boogie-goers raged and partied in the dark.

The next day, everyone awoke to clouds, wreckage and still no power. The drop zone staff and volunteers worked with a determined fervor to clear the wreckage and get things running using generators. As soon as the clouds parted, the drop zone was ready. It was a free-for-all as more than 300 jumpers mobbed manifest to get on a load. You can’t blame their enthusiasm: There were 22 world-class organizers standing by, and the sucker holes had taunted them for hours! 

The machine quickly got moving. The manifest staff worked their tails off to get each group on one of the three jump aircraft as quickly and as often as possible. Packers worked in overdrive. The momentum got going and nothing could stop it.

Aspiring women’s head-down world record participants crushed it in a Project 19 skills camp. Wingsuiters shredded the skies. Belly flyers did their thing. Designated organizers dedicated a whole day to hybrid dives. And freeflyers reclaimed the Virginia Record for Largest Head-Up Formation Skydive with a 16-way. (Your move, Skydive Suffolk!) The record-holders are Melanie Firth, Matthew Fry, Davis Hall, Katie Hansen, Alex Hart, Kevin Haugh, Brad Hunt, Ahmad Ismail, Peter LaVay, Gregory Lu, Konstantin Petrijcuk, Jay Prock, Margaret Reagan, Craig Saucier, Kyle Sutton and Laura Wagner. David Wybenga flew video for the group.

The underlying theme to the Apocalyptic Big O Boogie was Mad Max—Thunderdome! It’s no surprise that Skydive Orange—known for its epic parties—constructed an actual dome for the Saturday-night festivities. D.J. Moo kept everyone up and moving.

There are a lot of boogies and a lot of events going on each summer, so it’s difficult to decide which to attend. Considering the vibes, the people, the nightlife and the hard-charging stoke of the Big O Boogie, it’s no surprise that the event continues to grow each year. In anticipation of next year’s awesomeness, Skydive Orange is already planning to have four aircraft to accommodate all the hungry jumpers.

Matt Fry | D-30692
Thornton, Colorado

Katie Hansen | D-29694
Moab Utah

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