First the Freefall Race...
The competitor briefing was held Thursday night (December 28) . Bryan Burke, meet director, provided tips and comments. Regarding exit order... If exiting first, the freefall racer had to get out before the designated spot (before the light goes on at Skydive Arizona). The racer should track perpendicular to jump run and then begin the diving. During the diving, it is a good idea to hold a heading perpendicular to jumprun as divers can drift surprisingly far. Once under canopy, continue to fly perpendicular to jumprun. You may be under canopy for almost a full minute before the next group and flying toward the DZ may get you killed. You have to be willing to land out and walk. Getting out last is the other exit option. Be absolutely sure that you provide enough exit separation between yourself and the group before you. Some jump masters preach physically looking at the ground instead of counting (as upper winds vary) to verify that the aircraft has traveled across sufficient ground. Once again, fly perpendicular to jumprun in freefall and under canopy. Pointing your canopy at the DZ once again greatly risks your life. No more than two racers on a load.
At 200mph and greater, the drag on your bridle is sufficient to pull your main pin. This was the major reason that doing stand-ups were discouraged. In general, be sure that your gear is in order and properly donned for these type of high speed dives. An accidental deployment would be really bad from the speeds possible in the freefall race.
The noise of the relative wind can obscure the warning sound the DYTTER audible altimeter emits. One proposed option was to use a hard helmet, such as the Factory Diver, with a DYTTER. I used the Flashing DYTTER which has a warning light that flashes in the goggles.
No weights allowed. Competition consisted of 3 rounds to record the maximum average fallrate between 11,000 and 5,000 feet. The competition was very informal.
The device used to measure the average fallrate between 11,000ft and 5,000ft was a SkyCorder. It is orange (allowing one to easily find it if it was accidentally dropped on the ground) and about the size of two DYTTERS put together with a small display and two buttons.
In participating in the freefall race, I managed an average of 234mph between 11K and 5K. I used my pink spandex freestyle suit which has corduroy on the forearms and lower legs. These were definitely interesting dives. I got myself configured in nearly a no-lift dive. I continued to use my forearms and legs to make input as I wanted to know how fast I could go and still be in control of my horizontal movement if I had a partner with me at these speeds. Once the speed picked up, the wind started pushing my head about a little. It was continuous effort to maintain my balance and on the first run, I slid forward and backwards in access of 30 feet. At these speeds, the air is quite sensitive to any movement or correction you make with any one body part--even head movement felt critical. I used Flashing DYTTER as the warning sound of the DYTTER can be obscured by the sheer noise of the windflow. To deal with the strong air pressure, I tracked to get out of the dive. Tracking is an excellent way of bleeding off the speed without suddenly getting on my face and having my arms ripped off at the shoulders. After tracking, I flared into a reverse arch. At this time, it felt to me that I was falling very slowly and the air was very soft and gentle on my body. I had from 4,000 to 3,000 feet to enjoy this sensation. It is for this pleasure that I would dive again (on another jump of course). I dumped for a normal opening. Once I landed, my face felt warm like I was blushing or something. It was like this again on the second dive. I have to say that life over 200 mph is a little bit of a different world. I also carried with me a SkyCorder that measured the average fallrate throughout my entire dive except for sub-terminal. That average was 182mph. I determined with some friends that I probably passed 11,000ft at about 170mph and attained peak speeds around 250mph inside the window. Dan Briggs calculated that my average fallrate outside the 11-5K window was around 135mph.
The following people joined the 200mph club: