The new venue for the Convention, Rantoul, is awesome. The landing area is many times larger than our former location's and the surrounding area is very forgiving, even with long spots -- sometimes unavoidable like with the C-130 -- and the C-130 was worth it!!
The Load Organizing Tents, where I spend most of my time, were rocking from Day 1. Jumpers poured into the World Freefall Convention and into the new digs as if they had never been anywhere else. Tent Row had the familiar denizens: High Time Organizers, Low Pressure Organizers, the Muff Brothers, Chicagoland with AFF, CRW, and this year, organizing by the Golden Knights. We were transplanted and guess what, it took! Several of the civic leaders from the city administration made tandems this year, and from the press reports I saw, they were impressed! (There was also a wonderful Kirlin family jump, because daughter Nicole went through AFF at the Convention and then made a jump with Mom and Dad! Should be on the WFFC video.)
A cool front lowered the heat index after four days of typical Illinois heat and humidity to unbelievably perfect days. The big-ways organized out of Tent 1 built almost without a hitch, and Scotty Carbone and Tami *did* get hitched on Friday, August 9, with the bride and groom taken to the Casa tents in a horse and carriage, driven by an elegant top-hatted squire. My, My, what goings on.
The C-130 -- what a trip! I was on the first load, second pass. Being the first civilians to jump it in the United States for almost a decade was really exciting. I was on a 15-way, and lo and behold, who should show up unannounced on the skydive but Don Kirlin! The C-130's throaty sound was a pleasure to hear, and I heard it a lot from Monday through Sunday. Skydive Arizona's fleet was pretty busy, the Skyvan and the Otters constantly taking off and landing. The Casa fleet was so much fun, we could take almost anything off the tailgate and it wouldn't funnel! Mike Mullin's screamin' fast King Air was the first and last plane to fly each day. What a lovely experience to altitude in that plane, I felt torn as to which plane to take on every jump. I usually let those being organized decide, since I was incapable of doing so, every one was great.
And I took another helicopter ride this year, with new thrills and chills added. Every jumper I talked to who was on the chopper raved again and again about the ride. All I can say is: come back next year! If you come to Rantoul next year, you won't be disappointed. It was a wonderful time, a year to remember. Glad I was part of the new World Freefall Convention!