Email News from Kate in Thailand:

Day 19

Day 19  Day 17  Day 15  Day 14  Day 13   Day 12   Day 11   Day 10  Day 9  Day 8  Day 7  Day 6    Day 5    Day 4    Day3

No update yesterday. Transfer to Bangkok coupled with exhasution had
me horizontal at hotel by 6:00 pm. Most jumpers out all night
exploring "sights" of bangkok. Was at breakfast at 9;30 am this
morning on 14th floor and base jumper passed window, much to delight
of eating jumpers and consternation of BJ and hotel manager, who were
also enjoying meal. Hotel is 30 floors.

Am trying to get air tickets changed today and will most likely return to
LA on Tuesday, 10 February. Can't travel today--still too tired and
sore to deal with it. Next trip on agenda is to Belgium to visit Dr.
Eric De Coster for shoulder reconstruction--probaly within a week or
two.. Boy--do I know how to have a good time or what.

Most likely no further updates on trip to mass mailing. Thanks for all
replies, good wishes and positive energy. You are proof that it works.

Day 17

Day 19  Day 17  Day 15  Day 14  Day 13   Day 12   Day 11   Day 10  Day 9  Day 8  Day 7  Day 6    Day 5    Day 4    Day3

Wow. What a day. If this were a Hollywood script it would have been
turned down for being too drama filled.

First--to keep from torturing you--I'm proud to announce that
World Team '04 set a new World Record in Formation Skydiving today.
A 357 way held for over 6 seconds.

Now--how we got there....

First, skip back to last night. Went out for dinner in town. The
heavens opened and yet another deluge drowned korat. Electricity out
all over town, including the restaurant we chose. Dinner by
candlelight and a soggy rush back to the hotel. No stars. No moon.
just rain.

Woke up to grey soggy skies. The message board told us that we
wouldn't even head out to the DZ until 8;00 instead of our normal
6:45. What's the rush. My shoulder had been bothering me, so I went
with Larry Henderson to the local hospital to get some x-rays done.
360 baht (less than $10) for two x-rays. It would have cost an
additional 100 baht to have them read by a doctor. I saved my $2.50
since there were doctors back at the hotel.

On the way back Larry got a phone call. Change of plans. Change of
venue. Pal Bergan and Roger Ponce were en route to Tok-li, an Airforce
base 100 km west of Korat in the BT 26 (DC-3) on rumor of blue skies
and large fields. We were to assemble the team post haste at the
airport and prepare to move the show to the new airport. 400 jumpers,
packers, accompanying personnel, judges, children and me. All needed
to be transported to Tok Li if the scouting party reported back
positively.

We go to grips at the airport to make sure everyone is there. 357
people. The formation drawing is recorded and signed off by judges. We wait
for the call under surprisingly cold and grey skies.

We wait. Eat. Play catch. Too cold for ice cream today. Too cold for
massage. X-rays show no break in shoulder--all good news. The
discomfort I've been experiencing is no doubt do to 18 hour days on my
feet and lack of tequila.

The call comes. The field is open, safe and the skies are blue. We're
cleared to move. The RTAF (Royal Thai Air Force) is supporting our
event and once again they have bent over backwards to help WT 04
achieve it's goal.

We load 5 Hercules with jumpers and support crew and taxi out. I climb
on board plane Bravo and head up to "first class" to find AVN Bounchoy
already seated--he's joining us to cheer us on. He sees me scrambling
up the stairs and summarily boots a flight crew member out of a seat
so I can set by him. Note this is not the same thing as him offering
me his seat--he offered me someone elses seat. It's good to be a
general.

At the field by 12:30 pm. Skies are blue, field is large. Thanks to
American cookie cutter base designs Korat and Tok-Li are virtually
identical--from hangar configuration to runway access. It's safe to
drop 400 people here.

The load assembles for one last dirt dive at the new airfield.
Cypreses are turned on, Altimeters zeroed, and the wind and landing directions are
pointed out and the planes are loaded (for the third time) for World record attempt #7.

At approximately 1:45 pm the exit came from 23,900
feet above Tok Li. The dive was easy to spot and built quickly and
uniformly. White was the last sector to close and even from the ground
it was easy to see the last dockers. The dive was perfect. We were
screaming and yelling from the ground and soon were joined by landing
jumpers sharing elation. One dive. That's all it took.

The videos are rushed to the judges--due to rush to the new airport we don't
even have tv screens, and dives are dubbed onto laptops and scored.
357 sets of grips are meticulously checked by the judges. There is a
broken grip in Sector 9. A fumbled dock in Sector 3. Each time the
clocks are reset and breathes are held.

The BT 26 flies in with the local 4 star general to share the good
news. TV crews show up. People kiss, cry, hug, pace, worry and share. Beer vendors
miraculously appear and we try and keep jumpers from visiting them
before the decisions are official.

The decision is made to go up again. The judging process is
taking too long, and we can't sacrifice our window for our second (and
last jump) assuming we have the record only to find out there is a
problem--the alphas--those who were not on
the record for various reasons are asked to come to the dirtdive. If we
find out the record is valid, then they will join us. The record was held for
exactly 6 seconds--well in excess of the new FAI mandate of "showing
the picture" and legal by the old 3 and older 5 second rules.

We lifted 366 people for the second load of the day. One of the planes had an oxgen
supply issue and the dive did not build as cleanly, but all landed
safely.

We load up the 6 planes again for the return to Korat. I cannot
describe the mood of the team. From darkest despair--no apparent
chance of a record to wild success and a new World Record in less than
24 hours. A story book ending indeed.

Directly after landing at the field in Korat we were bussed to a nearby hangar on
the airbase (under still cloudy skies) and were treated to a wonderful
going away feast worthy of champions.

i just got back to the hotel--people are heading out for a well
deserved night on the town and what will most likely be an all night
celebration.

What a day
What a story
What a team
400 way anyone?

bluest of skies
kate

Day 15

Day 19  Day 17  Day 15  Day 14  Day 13   Day 12   Day 11   Day 10  Day 9  Day 8  Day 7  Day 6    Day 5    Day 4    Day3

No record today. One lift to 23,000, and two lifts that landed shortly
after taking off due to plane problems (will explain). Then mother of all thunderstorms
closed us out at 16:30

First dive was good. I rode in the lead plane in the cockpit (aka
"first class") with the pilots and flight crew. I was on aircraft
oxygen (as opposed to jumper Oxygn) so I got to wear one of those cool
helmets with a big mask like you see in Top Gun, but (I think) more
uncomfortable. Flight from take off to landing is about an hour,
which is excelletn for 4 aircraft to 23,500 MSL and back down again. I
went down stairs to main cabin where the jumpers sit at the 10 minute call and watched ramp
open, 100 people stand and adjust gear at 2 minute call, and then "ready
set go" the run out. Bittersweet. I'll not ride again.

The dive was good but alas not complete. My new adopted Sector 7
ROCKED and was, I believe, one of the first sectors to complete and
longest held. RED TEAM RULES! There was an early collision between
jumpers in Sectors 2 and three resulting in two out, another in Sector 6
resulting in 2 out, and some waves through Sector 5. The frustrating
thing is that these collisions are minor--caused by people docking
beside each other not aware of proximity--and are in the front 30-60.
The dive is effectively over within 15 seconds. I want the team from
two days ago back!!

On the second sortie three planes rotated, and the fourth aborted take
off midway down the run way. no drama, just high speed then pull
back. We contacted the tower and found out the other planes were
landing. less than an hour after landing the problem was fixed and we
were rolling again. One, two, wait---the same plane has aborted take
off again. Sigh. The two in the air land and all are out again to try
and find some cool air and shade.

While the loads were in the air some fancy cars pulled up and out come
body guards, press people, tv cameras--an entourage of about 30
people. In the center was a man in a bright blue shirt. I knew he was
important when i saw the 2 star generals snap to attention and run
over. What to do--everyone is up in the air! The AVM (air Vice Marshall
bounchoy--our staunchest supporter in this event) walked up with the
man and motioned me over. It's 95 degrees, I've been running around
for hours. I look a mess and smell worse, and my arm is in a sling. Not exactly the
photo op of my dreams. I ditch the sling, try and push my matted hair
back, smile and walk over. The man is introduced to me (as far as I
can interpret) as the
permanent affairs secretary to the Prime Minister of Thailand. The
description was actually longer and more complicated, but I remember
those words. I was introduced, shook hands, answered some questions,
tried not to sweat (the thais don' sweat) and posed for photos and tv
for 20 minutes. We're talking 100 cameras. I'm not paid enough to do
this.

Finally the planes come back, and an equally sweaty, tired and
overwhelmed BJ comes out and I happily relinquish my 15 minutes of
fame to him. The PAS to the PM of T stayed on teh DZ for an hour
easy, shaking hands and greeting jumpers while being followed by
entourage. Pretty cool honor for World Team and it's participants.

Thunderheads started building and by 15:00 hours it was raining cats
and dogs. A frog strangler of biblical proportions. 3 inches of rain
easy in 20 minutes. The jumpers either
a) stayed dry and ate ice cream
or
b) found reasons to run outside in the rain.
it looked about 50/50. Many ran outside with ice cream.

Our window for jumping lost, we return to the hotels. It's melanie's birthday
today and there is a surprise party for her at the Irish Pub at 8:30
pm. John is taking her out to dinner and she's being delivered to the
party via Elephant. Rumor has it that the elephant will have "happy
birthday melanie" painted on it's side.

Only in amazing Thailand.

We have 6 jumps left. Assuming no weather or mechanical problems. We
must treat each jump as if it our last, and give 100 percent. I know
the team can do it, but do they? They proved the talent by building
over 330 on the first jump, and not one has been under 300, but we
need to put aside weather, aircraft and personal issues and GO BIG.

Send some extra energy our way please. If you know people here who are reading
e-mails, tell them that you believe in them. Send messages to teams.
Call. Drunk Dial someone. Pass the word! The world can help us out here by showing they care.
Only the people here can do the skydiving, but you can help with the energy.

thanks from under red, white and royal blue skies
kate



-- Blue skies kate 

Day 14

Day 19  Day 17  Day 15  Day 14  Day 13   Day 12   Day 11   Day 10  Day 9  Day 8  Day 7  Day 6    Day 5    Day 4    Day3

Three jumps today. no record, but big big big formations. Just to give
you an idea how big...

Imagine four C-130's in formation at 22,000 feet (They are big
airplanes). now Imagine a formation taking up more space than that
when you see it at 15,000 feet. This is the biggest thing you've every
seen in the air. PEriod. Massive. breathtakingly huge. When break off
come parachutes come forever--they are literally a mile away for the
farthest, fastest trackers. Canopies land for 15 minutes. It's quite
the show.

Just to show you it's not all work, have attached photo of kate and
Valerie on stage at the Korat resort. Yes, in case you were wondering,
alcohol AND pain medications were involved. And yes, that's a
tablecloth I am wearing (red for red team of course).

I've been working with two red teams, Sector 2 and 7. Sector 7 is a
floating team out of left trail plane that has (at least) 5 different
countires represented. Debriefs are in English, Italian, German,
Portuguese and Russian. Anyone else has to handle it. We completed
today for the firts time and are happy.

Cool Malfunction of the day is back after hiatus (mostly due to no
cool malfunctions that I was aware of). This is a tie between Ray
FErrel (fourth pull out from base) and Gustavo Cabana (camera) who had
a canopy collision after opening. No injuries--hence it's cool, but
Ray's canopy was split literally in half front to back through the
center cell. Gus's video is spectacular, as it was his camera that did
the splitting. Again--no injuries. All is good.

I need to run and watch videos (yippee) with Dan. Got two hours of
review done last night and expect more tonight. No rest for the
wicked. Had good captains meeting tonight and reemphasized the goals
of the event--a new World Record--and that we would skydive as if
every jump were the last jump. The difficult decision has been made
not to add anyone to the dive no matter why they have been off, so even if my shoulder were miraculously better
tommorrow, I'd be sidelined until the first record was made. It's a
good and fair decisions and will be enforced from the top down.

First load is a6 8:00 am tomorrow. Today we lifted a 369, a 366 and a
363. Nice rounish numbers. Don't know what tomorrow numbers will be
until we watch video and make more decisions.

Arm much better today. No sling (for most of day) and no pain meds,
but found out that if one does not wear sling after three days, it is
like an open invitation for other jumpers to slap you on injured
shoulder and ask when you will return to sky because you are obviously
better.

I'm sure some large photos are on website already www.theworldteam.com
so check them out.

hoping to tell you of new World Record on tomorrows update... Tomorrow
is Melanies birthday--remember to wish her a new record on her big
"40"!!

kate

Day 13

Day 19  Day 17  Day 15  Day 14  Day 13   Day 12   Day 11   Day 10  Day 9  Day 8  Day 7  Day 6    Day 5    Day 4    Day3

Wow wow wow
what a team we have assembled here. We put up a 369 way this morning,
the first time 150+ people had jumped in 3 days, and it built to 318.
The second dive built to 337. Clouds came in and we landed the third
flight after a go around at altitude. Teh Oxygen system is so good
that even go arounds at 22,000 are no issue here. A nice luxury.
We're off to the DZ at 6:45 tomorrow for props spinning at
8:00 am and raring to go. the record could be built on any dive now
and everyone knows that. Even better, I won $50 on the Super bowl pool
this morning! 

Dan and I reviewed video for several hours tonight and were amazed at
the exits, approaches, docks and track offs from this team. It's hard
to be picky when the dives out the gate are so good. The "white board"
where group and personal messages are posted has this on it for
tomorrow:

6:45 busses to DZ
8:00 first load
8:45 Record
10:00 drunk
11:00 day off

I hope it's true!

After a day of no meds, I decided THAT was stupid and I'm back to
happy land again. A nice combination of white, orange and blues\ pills kept
me much more pleasant to be around today!

Craig Girard, our line of flight in the base is now in a bright lime
green jumpsuit and is easily visible from all aircraft when he pulls
the 8 way off the ramp--beats a streamer any day.

That's all for now, typing stil awkward...
k

Day 12

Day 19  Day 17  Day 15  Day 14  Day 13   Day 12   Day 11   Day 10  Day 9  Day 8  Day 7  Day 6    Day 5    Day 4    Day3

What's a meet without weather? We got ours today and about 300 people
(estimated) owe beer for their first landings in a C-130.

Had clouds this morning and sent about 10 captains on a reccy (that's
brit for recon mission) to check out potential alternate DZ called "pizzza
longs a lot" (at least that's what it sounded like it). Took a BT 26,
or turbine DC3/ That's cool/. Flew about an hour. DZ is nice,
facilities great but landing area not accepatble for 400 people. To
bad. I've been made chair of safety committee since I'm on ground for
event and refuse to go away. Fools.

Got back to DZ to find blue skies and 360 people dirtdiving. See captains
run. Run captains run.

Launched formationm only to have 15 knot crosswind move in in advance
of low threatening clouds. Made decision from ground (with Dieter,
still grounded from reserve opening) and Alexis to bring down
formation. Good call as was raining when they landed.

Start time 8:00 am tomorow and we are ready to go for record dives
again. Dinner at Korat resort tonight--sarong night I've heard.
Everyone to wear skirts. Men too... Glad I brought mine.

still can't type well==most irratating as I've much to share with you and
no way to really share it.

Many questions on shoulder. Here are answers to most common
questions--you need to guess questions.
1) exit, collision with another jumper
2) yes, it hurt.
3) Grabbed left wrist, with right hand and tucked thumb under chest strap. Stayed above formation
in freefall until 8,000. Practiced Mantis. watched formation.
Considered docking on formation and quickly discarded idea. Strange to
watch 200+ way build from above.
4) Pull when track off starts, open around 6,000 feet.
5) See #2 re opening but very happy for good canopy.
6) turned using right rear riser only, did not release brakes
7) No flare landing, no wind.
8) Sabre2 120
9) See #2 #5 re landing (bruised toes and knees. Thankful for 100
round jumps, full face helmet, and knowledge of PLF)
10) Shoulder put back in on field by many strong men, most of whom
were doctors. Literally was able to get up and walk once procedure was done.
11) see #2, 5 and #8 re reduction procedure
12) pain reduced 70% once shoulder in, told doctor (and strong men) I
loved them.
13) off pain meds now--even orange pills.
14) no, I'm not going to jump here
15) no I don't know if I'll have to have surgery yet--will need
follow up in states
16) probably not going to Palau--but way to early to commit.


There you have it. Will try for more tomorrow. Fingers numb now.
k


-- Blue skies kate 

Day 11

Day 19  Day 17  Day 15  Day 14  Day 13   Day 12   Day 11   Day 10  Day 9  Day 8  Day 7  Day 6    Day 5    Day 4    Day3

Still hurts to type
this will be short.

yesterday. Two jumps, both 222, each one better
today. Two jumps, both 222. This number achieved by leaving whacker
4+5 off each sector, but still using four airplanes. Dirtdived 372
this afternoon but had some clouds so first bona fide record attempw
tomorrow morning. On last dive 7 of 10 sectors complete (3 whackers), most for
over 20 seconds. This is good. My slot taken by Eliana Rodriguez--I
approve 


thanks for all e-mails--can't answer personally but read and
appreciate all. \Hopefully I will be able to return to normal long
updates soon but need more mobility in arm first. Have orange, yellow, and
blue pills--like orange ones best...

fron the land of smiles....
kate

Day 10

Day 17  Day 15  Day 14  Day 13   Day 12   Day 11   Day 10  Day 9  Day 8  Day 7  Day 6    Day 5    Day 4    Day3

Greetings from Amazing Thailand.

Today rocked (have I said that before?). This keeps getting better and
better. Three jumps from 21,500. Two teams of (roughly) 190-195 people.
It's neat that we're so intent on the goal of a new World Record that
we don't even care what the exact size of the "little" dives are.

The plan was to continue with two plane formations. Dive team one
utilizing the base (70 way) plus four sectors, and Dive team 2 (my
group) using a 24 way base made up from Alpha and 6 sectors. No
completions, but some really close dives and now each sector has
completed at least once. The fall rate is slowish, but completely
achievable. I'm docking as the anchor of Whacker 3 (Sector2) and
wearing weights still. I'm seeing some shirts coming out over
jumpsuits, but matching the fall rate is the game--lord knows we
learned that in Eloy.

The first dive today (for our team) was a surprise--mainly because the
airplane formation was perfect. I exited (roughly 15th row of the
Herc) and was almost abreast of the base. The proximity took some
people by surprise and we had some people low quickly. I sat. waited
and pondered the position, then about 12,000 feet I moved forward and
took the anchor position on the 24 way base. Maybe not the right thing
to do, but I wanted to allow some of our team the opportunity to dock
on the base. The second dive we were ready and Sector 2 completed!
well...almost, but close enough--truly just a few meters from all
grips and it was, for all intents and purposes, just our second time
at seeing the picture. Dive Three was different again (welcome to the
trail plane) and we had our long dive back. Still a great dive and
the last two jumps were over 90% complete. Good stuff.

Did I mention the Air Conditioning in the airplanes?? yeah baby--no
hot stuffy planes for World Team--Our Herc's come complete with
central air. Once the CPU's (or APU's--I get the two confused) power
up, the frigid air starts drifting out of the upper vents. It's
actually more comfortable sitting in the plane, ramp up, on the ground
waiting to take off than in the packing area. To the point that two
out of three dives today I was woken up by take off--kind of like
commercial flight, but without peanuts or cushions.

I'm pleased to announce that there is no winner of the cool
malfunction of the day award, so I've (at least temporarily) switched
to the cool exit of the day. The winner today goes to Pal Bergan
(Norway). Pal is the lead plane spotter for Dive Team 1 (and lead spotter for the 372
way). I was watching video of the his dive team and saw him spot the
load, call the exit, and then, midway through the count, exit in a
perfect sit. He rode the 135 knot wind out the tail gate in the sit,
then spun over to face the tail gate and start floating up. Hey--someone tell him he's
having too much fun!

the exits seem to be getting better, at least I didn't have as many
people asking me for visors today--maybe they've heard I'm out. We did
have an Italian (I think) get a broken nose from exit though colliding
with a camera.. 

We've also started dealing with some ramp rush on exit. This is
vertical movement of the ramp relative as you are running out, and if
you are not prepared, it can come up at you. We had people fall on
exit on two dives, literally crawling out of the plane. The runner up
awards of "cool exit of the day" therefore go to Rhonda Joyce and Amy
Goriesky who exited a C-130 at 135 knots on a 200 way by slithering
out on their bellies (And still getting in the formation). Speaking of
Amy, she got a surprise today in our full gear dirt dive when Rusty
pointed out she had a 4 inch centipede (or millipede, I didn't count
the legs) crawling up her suit. Several seconds later (and, I fear, a
mortally injured insect) she was back on the ground, but now all of us
are shaking out our suits before putting them on each jump.

The dropzone now offers laundry service! 400 baht (just over $10) for
a weeks worth of laundry for one person. I'd do that at home, and I'm
certainly taking them up on it up here. Of course I just opened my packet from
doing laundry in Bangkok and found out that my blue Road Runner
running shorts had been substituted by blue spandex compression
shorts. Eh, they fit. What the hey.

We had another not quite a marathon Captains meeting tonight. We
missed the busses to the restaurants again, but Dan and I decided to
have dinner at the Japanese restaurant down the street. Sushi bar and
all. It was packed with jumpers and we joined a table with Bob Holler,
Mike Johnston and Bob Hallet for a great Sashimi meal.

Tomorrow the plan is to take up the "real" 70 way base with all 10
sectors. however, to minimize chaos, we'll only take the first three
whackers of each sector. This comes out to about a 270 way, but will
allow us to use all four planes in formation and really test the
sizing of the dive. This is for the first dive only. On dive two we'll
take the entire team up, but not dock the sectors--just fly them
outside the base. We'll decide what to do on Dive three depending on
the success of the day.

Excitement is growing each day. now that each Sector has built--some
multiple times during practice jumps, we know that the team is capable
of the task, it just comes down to implementation.

The break off plan is innovative, designed by PD's Rusty Vest. In
addition to "traditional" tracking teams at the first pilot chute
(7,500 feet) and ensuing pilot chutes we have designated "tracking
pull out leaders". These people, usually known as 'lucky bastards' by
their team mates, have the responsibility of turning, tracking while
gaining altitude and then pulling out in a track after 10, 15 and 20 seconds
respectively. The end result is we have 40 people--over 10 percent of the
load, pulling out of the formation during track off and creating more
room between sectors. I'm very jealous, and if I didn't have
such a cool slot already I'd be writing management again requesting
reassignment.

I'm looking forward to the dives tomorrow and you'll be happy to know
that it's only 10:45 pm and I'm soon off to sleep to rest up for the day ahead.
My room mate, who got in at 4;00 am this morning, is happily snoring
the the bed beside me and I plan on joining her soon for a good nights
rest.

And yes, I enjoyed the coffee this morning very much, thanks for asking...


Red, white and royal blue skies
kate

Day 9

Day 19  Day 17  Day 15  Day 14  Day 13   Day 12   Day 11   Day 10  Day 9  Day 8  Day 7  Day 6    Day 5    Day 4    Day3

Greetings

I've got tequila, beer and Sudafed in my system right now, so advance apologies for
mis-spellings, disjointed syntax, or obnoxious comments... I just got
back from an Irish bar in Thailand filled with Germans and Brits
drinking tequila. Ain't that cool? It's Breno D'assis birthday today (Brazilian)--
everyone send him an email and tell him happy birthday! Breno de Assis
<skygod@globo.com> Also Connie from Switzerland but I don't know her
e-mail address.

Wow, so much to report. First things first. I have a confession. I fell off
the wagon today. After 9 weeks of abstaining, I couldn't hold off any
further. I had a Diet Coke. Ahh, the taste, the liquid gold, the fake
sugar, the CAFFEINE. Yes, gentle readers I'd been caffeine free for 9
weeks but today it called my name, i couldn't pass it up. One led to
another, and before the day was out I'd had three drinks. Who knows
what this will lead too---coffee in the morning, afternoon tea, double
frappocinnos at Starbucks. I'm out of control and I don't know what to
do. I'm also awake and not tired for the first time in days.
Coincidence? I think not....

Today was great in many ways. First we moved to two plane formations.
This is important as we're training our three different Thai crews as
well as the jumpers. They are flying the birds 300 feet apart when
their regulations state they can't be withing 1000 meters of each
other, so this is all new stuff for them. They rock. We salute them
and high five each crew as they head out to our four planes each time.

We made three jumps from 21,500 today. Two dive teams, both in the
190-200 way range (I don't know the exact number). First off I have to
say that small planes suck. Yesterday we were in the stretch Herc--100
people lounging about, stretched out on the floor. Today we were
jammed into a "short"--you can barely fit 100 people in there. I lodged a
complaint with management, but so far it has gone unanswered. Sheesh, the things
we have to endure over here.

We had communication problems on our dives. We are Dive team 2. Dive Team 1
was made up of the "real" base plus four sectors (dives are posted on
the World Team website if you are so inclined). Dive Team 2 was made
up of a "fake" base, presented to us by our Alpha team, plus 6
sectors. I knew we had communication problems when I dove out of the
trail plane, about 15 rows from the tailgate, looked at the lead
plane, and noticed it was empty. For the non jumpers reading
this--this is bad. Not broken leg bad, but still bad. It was a long
dive. A hero dive. A dive that legends are made of. And (she smiles in
her tequila basked glory) I got in. It was at 7,000 feet (remember we
exited at 21,500), but I still got in. It's good to be good . For
the techno geeks out there--protrack readings--201 top speed 97
bottom average--how you like THEM apples! (note--bottom average low
due to long track, not to fall rate of formation).

By the third sortie (see, I'm hangin' with the French) we had the exit
timing down and I could have docked on the base from the trail
plane--good stuff. The fall rate is good and I'm loving my new slot--I
think I'll stick with it through tomorrow at least 

We've decided to do at least another two 200 ways tomorrow to help
both the aircraft crew and our dive teams work out timing and then
plan on dirt diving a 372 way tomorrow afternoon. We had another
captains meeting tonight, but it wasn't the marathon session we
endured yesterday, and I had time for a nice dinner at the hotel and a
walk over to the bar.

Let's see, what else. Oh, cool malfunction of the day story. it's a
tie today. Bragging rights go to Amy Haass for having a main
extraction off the ramp at 21,000 feet (not technically a mal, but
still cool--she should be landing soon) and Willy Boykens, who had his
Cypres fire right after landing near a radar tower on base. And before
you e-mail and ask--I don't know if he had one of those Cypres shield
thingies on his unit--all I know is that it fired. We're not landing there
anymore.

The intrepid nature of the Thais continues--we now have a money
changing station at the dropzone, and a very nice buffet lunch was
offered today. The ice cream still is popular, and each day more
little stores are offering wares. I'm hoping against hope that a
laundry service is started soon, or I'll be paying hotel rates in a
day or two...

The oxygen systems in the planes has been designed by Dr. Ben Massey,
who is here with his wife and four children--the family has been at
all four world teams and are seasoned travelers. He has nasal canulae,
hoses, and masks available for every possible need and we've had zero
reports of hypoxia, even with extended times above 21,000 feet. This
is outstanding and I'm pleased he's in charge of the system. I'm
using a Skysytems Oxygen and it rocks. I use the helmet with the visor
down from 12,000 feet--the hose puts oxygen inside the helmet
effectively making it a full face oxygen mask. Very efficient and very
easy.

By the way--we're out of Oxygen lenses and ratchet kits here. The exits
have taken their toll on helmets and lenses. I brought 10 sets easy and
they've all been handed out. We're in desperate need. If anyone knows someone
traveling to Thailand in the next day or so please have them bring
lenses and ratchet kits--oh, we could use Pro Dytter batteries too...
While you're at it, the Irish bar only has Cuervo Gold--slim pickin's
at best, and I fear they are out now... 

It's 11:00 pm and I actually think I'm going to be in bed before
midnight tonight--I have a 6:15 breakfast meeting, so it will be utter
bliss having a bit of sleep. Can't wait for the coffee....

until tomorrow
kate


-- 

Day 8

Day 19  Day 17  Day 15  Day 14  Day 13   Day 12   Day 11   Day 10  Day 9  Day 8  Day 7  Day 6    Day 5    Day 4    Day3

Greetings
it's 11:00 pm and I just got back in the room I left at 6:00 am. Long
days, but productive.

We assessed the plans for the day's jumps this morning and decided the
team would better be served by continuing with 100 ways. it was a
great decision as by the end of the fourth jump we had many whackers
completing--the longest for 28 seconds! Tomorrow we are moving to the
200 ways, using two birds.

The weather continues to be great, warm both on the ground and at
altitude. The spots are good (thanks to Marcel, Pal, Herman, and
Roger) and the confidence in the team continues to grow.

About 100 school children, dressed in uniforms came to visit the
dropzone today. Little by little our group is attracting the
attention of the locals. In true enterprising Thai Fashion we now have
several small concessions set up at the airport, offering to sell
everything from silk to sapphires, and anything you can think of in
between. The food at the airport is great. For 60-70 baht (less than
$2 you can choose from about 30 different home cooked meals.
Traditional Thai dishes share the menu with hamburgers for the homesick americans.
Today they moved in ice cream--many happy faces when that news went
around. Water is supplied to the team at no charge and is plentiful.

Let's see, what else... Oh, in the base six Dave Starr is line of
flight--trailing a long streamer from his leg. On the first dive this
morning his main pilotchute decided to entangle with said streamer,
pitching him head down and in effect causing a horseshoe, although it
did not pull his main pin. He deployed his reserve successfully and is
now singing the praises of the borrowed 143 reserve he used. Great
stories all around. Dieter stayed on the ground today from the reserve
deployment he had off the ramp last night, but we had several people
join the team who had recovered from the Sunam Luang demo, so our
numbers stay strong.

As I boarded our camoflauge C-130 today the Thai Crew were holding up a hand
lettered sign that said "good luck from lucky green". That's just a
sign of the support we are getting from the Thail air Force. I've
heard rumors that they want to paint the World Team emblem on one of
the C-130's--isn't that cool!

After the fourth jump today we had a marathon captains meeting,
debriefing the last two days worth of jumps and laying out the plan of
attack tomorrow. There is a lot of good input in these meetings--not
everyone agrees with each other which is a good thing--we have
constructive pros and cons on every subject. The exits continue to be
an issue. At 135 knots incidental contact on exit....isn't. Visors are
kicked out, bodies are bruised, and the least change in body position
makes for a high speed tumble. I've been lucky, out of 8 jumps I've
had 7 great exits, but "oh my", that one where i tumbled was impressive. After the
captains meeting we had a brief dinner in town and back to our hotel.

I'm now on my second slot of this event. I started as a 5th row anchor
in Sector 2 and now have moved up to a 3rd row anchor. This is good
because:
a) I get bored easy, so a new slot is a new challenge--especially
since I didn't even get a run out when I switched
b) It's closer to the base, which is a faster, albeit shorter swoop
for me-really a better slot
The bad thing is that
a) I have to wear weights. I have been skating on that way out on the
outside but my back will not allow me to stay with the formation this
close. That's really the only downside though, and I enjoy (after one
jump) my new slot. Luckily Amy Goriesky had an unused weight belt and
lead so I'm taken care of by my team mates.

My goal is to do at least two other slots during this event, so we'll see how that works...

With five whackers, all wearing the same jumpsuit color it can be
difficult discerning between lines. Patrick Passe came up with a great
idea and we are not putting tape on each helmet. Orange for the
first whacker, pink for the second, yellow for the third and green for
the fourth. The anchors get an X while the rest of the lines get a
horizontal line. These markings are on the back of the helmets and it
now will be easy while in a dive to tell if the person is in the line
before or behind you. It is a new idea for big way markings and will
help us out greatly.

A brief note about our camera crew. Henny Wiggers has put together a
world class camera crew of 12 from around the globe, and they have
been working hard, filming our exits and builds, and then dubbing down
onto tape. All video debriefs are digital, straight from cameras and
the quality of the film and picture are outstanding. It makes it a lot
easier to deal with larger formations when you have consistent
debriefable videos, and Henny and his crew are delivery them.

Sherry Scrimsher leads our judging staff and they are working hard
collecting the paperwor--sporting licenses and FAI card from over 400
participants and making sure everyone is qualified to do the record
dives in less than 48 hours. The entire WT staff is tireless and
devoted, and it shows.

Tomorrow we're planning the three (I think) 200 ways from 21,000 feet, then on to
bigger and better things by Wednesday. Busses leave the hotel at 7:00 am , which is
less than 8 hours from now!

Sorry for the disjointed and poorly formatted e-mail. I know this is a
recurring theme, but I'm tired and tomorrow is almost upon me, once again.
Thanks again for all the great e-mails. I've been relaying e-mails of encouragement
to quite a few people (as possible) and it's always wonderful to know
that the world is watching our progression and cheering us on.

Red, white and Royal blue skies
kate

Day 19  Day 17  Day 15  Day 14  Day 13   Day 12   Day 11   Day 10  Day 9  Day 8  Day 7  Day 6    Day 5    Day 4    Day3

Day 7

Wow. A whole week. On one hand it just seems like yesterday I got off
the plane in Bangkok, on the other I feel like I've been here for
weeks. I'm having a wonderful time.

Today was the first day of jumping, four separate groups doing single
plane formations of around 100 people each. We had planned four jumps,
two from 17,500 and two from 20,000 feet but only ended up with three.
The dives went well. No completions, but many of the team are learning
(or relearning) the 135 knot exits from the C-130 and we are
practicing the five tiered whackers. I don't know if I've told you,
but daily updates including photos are now being placed on
www.theworldteam.com so check there in addition to this blog.
www.skydiveperris.com also has a blog going that several people including
myself, are posting on.

The weather is picture perfect--cooler and less humid than I remember
from my last trips to Thailand, but still shorts and t-shirt weather
at altitude, you couldn't ask for better. The spots today were
excellent and the morale is high. The only incident of note was
Dieter Kirsch (German captain from Sector 4) had his reserve deployed
on exit at 20,000 on the last dive by the person exiting beside him.
She hung onto the reserve ripcord throughout her dive and presented it
back to him when he finally landed in front of the tents, about 20
minutes later. Me, I would have thrown the ripcord and denied
knowledge of the incident!

After jumping we headed back to the hotels for a rush shower and
clothing change and went to the formal opening ceremonies of World
Team '04. On the bus to the hotel I sit with Swiss and French, and
going to dinner I'm surrounded by Russians. My team today had
Americans, Candaians, Brazilians, Spanish and French on it. This is
the World Team in action--every place you go you are surrounded by
multiple languages, but all are speaking the same language of
skydiving.

The dinner venue was open air and wonderfully appointed, with
flowers and a live traditional Thai band playing. I was invited to sit
at the head table with some of the luminaries and feasted on regional
thai delicacies (don't ask me to tell you what I ate) while watching
the show. Also joining us at the table was Val Thal, back from the
hospital. She was flown from the hospital in Bangkok today via a
turbine DC-3. Just her. That's the kind of treatment the World Team is
getting here. She's doing great, a smile on her face and a cast on her
leg and I'm thrilled that she is here to cheer on World Team. My next
job is to convince her to continue on with our planned trip to Palau
with the Bent Prop Project www.bentprop.org where she is supposed to
be my room mate.

At the dinner, during the music I was pleased to see some of the
World Team children out and dancing. One young couple, Bine Bergan and
Lachlan Nichol (both children of WT captains) amused the group by
dancing together in front of the stage. hmmm. I see WT '16 in the
works already!

At the end of the ceremonies the dances came into the audience and
tied white threads on our our wrists as a symbol of friendship between
Thailand and the WT. I plan to keep them on as long as they will stay.
The evening finished with many of the 372 on and in front of the stage
dancing with the Thai Dancers.

Tomorrow the plan is to go to formation loads, and build 190-200 ways
in preparation for the big show on Wednesday. Morale and enthusiasm is
high, and the team is ready to proceed.

Until then

blue skies from amazing Thailand.
kate


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Day 6

Greetings.

Today was our travel day, from Bangkok to Khorat, about 250 km NE. It
was an early start again--moving a team of over 500 people takes time,
and the fact they are all skydivers (most hungover) doesn't help the
situation.

We're on the 14 busses and on the road, complete with police escort
by 8:00 am. The Police escort manuevers us through downtown Bangkok
traffic by taking us onto the "wrong" side of the street (right side)
and clearing the way. It's good to be popular.

The newspapers were kind to us after yesterdays events, but i've
received e-mails saying that photos of jumpers on buildings and in
trees are on the wire. Thanks to everyone who has sent e-mails and I
apologize for not being able to respond to each and everyone. My
downtime is short and precious. I am reading the mails, and passing on
best wishes though--keep 'em coming.

The mood of the team is excellent. in a form of contraryism found only
in jumpers the fact that most of the team came through yesterday's
events unscathed has actually bolstered their confidence and
enthusiasm, rather than dampening it. This is a great team. Breakfast
did show a fair amount of skinned knees, elbows and hands, and a few
limps going on, showing that the bad landings were more widespread
than expected.

The bus ride is broken by a lunch at a national park. We're served a
delicious curry and soup meal by school children. The bright smiles
and infectious laughter (and cold beer) raises the energy even higher.
I'd like to be able to describe wonderful things about the trip
through central Thailand to you, but in all honesty, my eyes were
closed for much of the trip, getting some much needed rest after tha
last full speed days.

We're at the airfield in Khorat (alternate spelling Korat) by 3:00 pm.
The team and sector captains are seated up on stage and introduced one
by one and each sector stood as was recognized. same for Camera team,
Judges, and support staff. It's really sinking in--this is a GREAT
assembly of people.

We are introduced to the Deputy Wing Commander, AirBoon, and
reintroduced to the Air Vice Marschall Bounchoy, as well as the crew
of pilots who would be taking us to 22,000 feet over the next 10 days.
The Thai pilots and base crew received a standing ovation from the 500
people, and the smiles on their faces lit up the room. We saw a quick
video on the air base, and then went to the actual area where we will
be staging for the jumps. Our four C-130's are lined up side by side,
with a turbine DC-3 to keep the Alpha team airborne while we are
flying sorties.

We have secure rooms for our gear, so rigs and helmets placed at the
site. The landing area is huge. I've very comfortable with placing a
300+ way formation in it safely, and our team of spotters are world
class, having done a wonderful job on past WT and other events.

Back to the hotels. The team is too large to be housed in one hotel.
I'm at the Simi Thani, the larger hotel in town where about two thirds
of the team is housed. The rest are at the Korat Resort, about 20
minutes away (out of town). We'll have dinners at both hotels so I'll
be able to report back on the other location.

My room mate for this event is Juliana Se, a Brazilian girl married to
an Austrian living in Florida . She's a wonderful person and a good
friend and I'm pleased to share my next 10 days with her.

Tomorrow the busses leave at 7:00 am. The plan is four jumps, all 100
way warm ups (the dives can be found on www.theworldteam.com) out of
single planes. Two dives from a "low" altitude of 18,000 feet and two
more from 20,000. We're gradually acclimating the team before going to
full altitude of 22,000.

Valerie is supposed to join the team to cheer us on as early as
tomorrow. She ordered her husband, Jim, to come out today and she is
being flown out from the Bangkok Hospital once she is ready to travel.
Caroline is also planning on rejoining the team and cheering us on
once she can travel. All three girls are in the same ward in the
Bangkok hospital, with Herbert, the German in an adjoining room--they
are being well attended to and send their best wishes to all who have
worried.

It's dinner (and beer) time. And then, gentle readers, my goal is to
get more than 5 hours of sleep tonight 

Until tomorrow....

blue skies
kate

Day 5

Day 19  Day 17  Day 15  Day 14  Day 13   Day 12   Day 11   Day 10  Day 9  Day 8  Day 7  Day 6    Day 5    Day 4    Day3

Hi all
Wow, long day. not sure where to start. First off, let me start with
the demo to dispel (or confirm) and rumors you may have heard. NO ONE
DIED. repeat after me. EVERYONE IS GOING TO BE OKAY. Okay, now read.

The day started early, as days of this type do. Breakfast at 5:30 and
in the busses by 6:00. We drove to Don Muoang airport (the military
side of the field) to be split up into our birds, endure briefings and
mass photos, and basically prepare for the mass drop scheduled for
10:30 am.

the plan is 672 people, out of 8 planes (6 C-130's, a turbine DC'3,
and a G222). each Herc had over 100 jumpers in it, packed tight. The
World Team contingent is split among the 6 hercs, with the rest of the
demo team being made of of accompanying personnel and every Thai
jumper, may jumping military gear.

At the briefing we are warned that the upper winds are 25 knots plus,
and the landing area has a mild cross wind. Short version--don't run
farther downwind than you want to land. Standard demo stuff. We
finally spool up the birds and take off, cheers and waves going
through each plane. I'm in Herc 5 (of 6) with the planes planning to
drop at two minute intervals over Sunam Luang, the large field in
front of the Grand Palace.

Ready set GO and exit. I've decided to not wear a helmet, as it's a
solo exit and a demo--our exit altitude is 7,200 feet with openings
staggered from 3,000 to 5,000 feet, depending on where you exit in the
plane. I have a clean exit, look down, great spot, good air, awesome
view. I track until I see
canopies from the previous plane(s) below me and open up a bit above
4,000. Stow slider, throw streamers (we each have gaily colored
streamers in a belly bag) and turn to the dz to land. The air is
filled with brightly colored parachutes of all makes, colors and
sizes. I look down. Uh-oh--water landing. I see a canopy touch down in
the river--a boat is to her before her canopy has settled Okay, that's
done. Wait--what's wrong. a LOT of canopies are going to the lone
alternate landing area, a small soccer field. I look at my ground
speed and it's nil. I'm holding. I'm not in a bad place, I'm close to
the field, but many canopies have set up behind and below me--there is
no way they are going to land in. One by one I see canopies on roads,
in trees, and even on roofs. I set up to land--the cross is a bit
stronger than I expected are there are some strong thermals coming off
the buildings. My canopy rocks and rolls as I come through the rotor,
then I set down for a good landing--not pretty, but good. As I'm
picking up my canopy I hear Val call to me from a few feet away. She's
broken her ankle buffeting through the same rotor I landed in. I run
to her and call for a medic, shedding my gear and helping her with
hers. As I work with her I see people getting caught in the rotor,
landing in and out. Not good.

We get an ambulance and go to the hospital--I go with Valerie. About
a 15 minute harrowing ride later we're there. I've now survived the
grand slam of travel in bangkok. Walking, Skytrain, Taxi, Tuk tuk,
Motorcycle and Ambulance. The ambulance might be the scariest. The
good thing thought is that hospitals in Thailand
are clean, efficient and well run. We're in triage in the emergency
room and to my horror more gurneys come in wearing the trademark blue
and yellow track suits. Not good.

Soon I'm surrounded by a plethora of injuries ranging from broken
ankles, to cut knees, to broken pelvises.. Nothing life threatening,
but way too many. End count 4 non-thai World Team members admitted to the hospital, with
three others released after treatment, and three Thai jumpers admitted. I'm
at the hospital for 7 hours juggling between one person to the next,
joined by Larry and Eric De Coster, a surgeon (and team captain) from
Belgium. Luckily every injury ends up being less serious than first
thought, but we've still lost 5 people from the front line up. Not
good.

Tomorrow the team transfers to Korat to set up for the record dives.
We're missing a few of our team mates, but energy is still high.
Valerie and Caroline are planning on joining us on site once they are
released, Kathy will go home, accompanied by her husband Fred, Sandro
is also headed home. Conny was released and will join us in Korat and
hopes to jump as soon as she feels better. The girls were all troopers
in the hospital and I'm very proud of them all.

I'm past exhausted, so this is a short e-mail. I just want you to know
the skinny for when you start hearing stories. I know the truth. I was
there. The demo rocked, but people, especially some with lighter
wingloadings, put themselves in a position where they couldn't safely
make the landing area. Rule #1. Land safely. Rule #2, Land in.

Hopefully tomorrow you'll have a more upbeat update on the continuing
adventures of kate, as she heads north and east through Thailand in
search of a record.

Until then....

blue skies and safe landings
kate

Day 4

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Greetings
Day four:
First official day. Started it with an early am run through the CO2
laden streets of Bangkok, then a captains meeting at 9:00. I'm not
technically a captain, but my captain, Rusty, is late due to a family
emergency so I sit in to help my co-captian. Melanie, work with our
team. We basically discuss the specifics of the BDD (that's the demo
we're doing tomorrow, in case anyone forgot the acronym) and the plan
to move to Korat the following day.

After the captains meeting we have the first general meeting. What a
sight. Over 500 jumpers, all world class, seated in a grand room
listening to the briefing. We found out that 66 of the team (out of
372) have attended all four World Teams--dating from 1994. That's
impressive--over 10 years of top level large formation skydiving. Many
others have two to three World Teams under their belt. This is more of
a reunion than a gathering, and again, the energy and excitement is
electric.

The specifics of the Sunaum Luam jump (The BDD) are discussed
tomorrow. All persons are to wear the assigned team track suit, shoes,
shirt and hat--all given out in the bountiful goodie bag. We also have
streamers in a belly bag that are to be released after opening. Exit
altitude is 7,200 feet and the plan is to drop 672 jumpers (yes, you
read that right) over the field out of six C-130 aircraft at 10:30
tomorrow morning. Sheer madness.

After the briefing we break into individual sector meetings, and for
the first time, Sector two (headed by Melanie Conatser and Rusty Vest)
meet each other and discuss out team strategy. We break for the rest
of the day.

I go to pick up some silk clothing I had ordered earlier. I now am the
proud owner of a LBS and two LBT (that's little black skirt and little
black tops to you). All made out of the wonderful Thai skirt. I just
need some black high heel shoes to go with them. Size 42 if anyone has
access to some.

On the way back I meet the Dutch contingent heading out, and go with
them to have some drinks and shoot pool at a small bar about two
blocks from the hotel. I finally make my way back to the hotel just
in time for a two hour traditional Thai massage. After that--dinner
and bed are the most interesting things on my game plan.

We have an early start tomorrow--on the busses at 6:00 am ready to
jump. I'll let you know the details. Until then...

blue skies
kate

Day 3

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Happy New Year! That's the Chinese New Year to you, and today was the
day. Red is the color of the Chinese New Year, and that was evidenced
by the number of people dressed in red today. At one time I would say
that 50% of the people in the streets and on the Skytrain were wearing
some form of red. Good stuff.

This morning we got up and went back to Lupini Park. Larry Henderson
led our crew, joined by Sally and Cowboy Gist and John Appleton. We
did a nice 5 K (twice around the park). Running in the opposite
direction from us was a little old man who I recognized from
yesterday's run. He looks like a miniature Mr. Miyagi from "The
Karate Kid". Maybe 4 foot tall, 85 pounds, and 75 years old. I remember
him because he waved at me and smiled every time we passed yesterday.
Turns out he's a friend of Larry's--coached his daughter in track while
she was in high school. Small worlds indeed.

Today's itinerary was simple. First thing was The Queen Saovahbha Snake Farm to
get the feeding and venom milking demonstrations. This institute was
set up to produce antivenom for the multitude of nasty slithering
creature that inhabit the trees, bushes and waters of thailand. Note
to self--be careful when landing out. It was fascinating--King Cobras
are easy 12-15 foot long (who knew?) and when they rear up with their
hoods extended, they are quite an intimidating creature. Fun Factoid
of the day--King Cobras eat....other snakes. Yep, that's their sole
source of food. Now THAT'S being at the top of your food chain. I
also saw spitting cobras (madly spitting venom at each other), several
pythons, and a multitude of banded, reticulated, spotted snakes. Some
venomous, others not.

After my science fix for the day I decided to go for culture and wandered
through Bangkok to Paht Pong, the red light district. It's quite a bit
different during the day than at night, er, I mean that's what I've heard. But the
bars tactfully named "SUPER PUSSY" and the ilk are still open for
business, even at noon. A quick recon and I'm on the skytrain headed
for the Jim Thompson House. Jim Thompson "revitalized the silk
industry in Thailand". I know that because I read a sign that said it.
The house was cool--very colonial style, all teak wood, marble floors
and shutters. I could live there.

Home again to find out that our small contingent of about 50 jumpers
had swelled rank to over 300 in the last 24 hours. Jumpers everywhere.
The energy is contagious, and I'm smiling and hugging people, whether
I last saw them 4 days or 4 years ago. We're putting the band back
together--World Team '04 is in the house!!

We pack the local foot massage place with jumpers, sipping beers and
being massaged into bliss. Life is good.

A brief observation on Thai's and traffic directions. I notice that
when in a country, like the US, where you drive on the right hand side
then people tend to walk on the right hand side. In countries, like
Malaysia or Japan, where one drives on the left hand side, again--one
walks on the left hand side. In Thailand they drive on the left hand
side. They walk anywhere they damn well please. It makes for some
pretty intense confusion when 100 people disembark from the train and
another 150 are boarding. No obvious (to my eyes) direction of
traffic--just bear ahead until you get to clean air. I'll have to
observe this phenom further.

I've got some beers, spicy Thai Curry, and two (count 'em) TWO foot
massages in me today. No motorcycle rides. Yin and yang.

Talk at you tomorrow

blue skies
kate

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