Unfortunately, we were unable to jump
By Henk Lunshof, Lake Wales, 16-11-2023
Pictures: 25way, Chico Tomaselli / 4ways: Bernard Bond / Ground Pictures: Wijnanda van Wijngaarden
Unfortunately, we were unable to jump today and the last three days due to the weather conditions. So today’s post is not about our jumps, but about colouring the sky, a story I very much like to share with you.
For Canopy Formation the parachute is, instead of a transportation tool after a free fall jump, the gear we use for our discipline. We build formations with our main parachute. Each specific slot of a formation requires different performance and wingloading of our parachute. Older parachutes are slow and sinky while newer canopies are fast and have more lift. That is way some of us have several parachutes, differing in size and age.
What is technically less important, but which literally gives life colour, are the colours of our parachute(s). By bringing our parachutes together en masse in large formations, we inadvertently fill the sky with a diverse range of colour patterns, built up by our individual parachutes. These colours are composed by personal preferences, national colours, colours devised by the manufacturer and sometimes also a colour combination where the designer wants to express something very personal.
A parachute from the last category mentioned, with much pink in it, came in to my hands. Due to the slot I will fly this year, I brought this canopy to the record attempt. Garth Baker is the designer and first owner of this parachute and this is his story I like to share. When Garth designed the canopy he had named her the “Pink Crippler”. The pink ribbon is representative of the Breast Cancer awareness, which his sister Lynn suffered from. Lynn didn’t like a pale pink and Garth his other choice was a lighter shade.
Garth went on to say that when he told Lynn the name of the design, she loved it, the sense of humour, and the colour scheme! The white bottom skin was made so that the colours were not as bright from below for either colour. The fading of coulors created by the white botton skin represents the fight against cancer and the unfortunately slowly loss of lustre and shine. And Lynn did fight so valiantly!
This moving story makes me realize to value a healthy life, every time I jump the Pink Cripler.
Garth further pointed out that the black on black target panels on the outside endcells were really only to give more strength to the material at the contact points! With this statement he seemed to downsize the actual meaning he had put in the parachutes. I secretly believe there is also a deeper mening to those black outside panels giving strength. Could they are a silent gift and “thank you” note from Lynn? A thank you too those who provide support and care from the shadows of the side-lines to does who suffer?
Another story is how I came into possession of the Pink Cripler. CRWdogs are willing to lend their parachutes to each other. This has to do with the specific flying specs that you sometimes need for some jumps, but also with the way in which the CF community interacts with each other. So even Garth lended out the Pink Crippler, which means so much to him, to friends for a 4-way competition event. However, the Pink Crippler got damaged by a combination of strong wind and barbed wire. The damage caused to the still relatively new parachute did not leave his friends untouched. They could not leave it at that and bought Garth a new Pink Crippler part II with the same design as the first. I bow for you, friends of Garth!
The original Pink Crippler was offert to me to buy and thus ended up in my care in november last year. She already flew the European skies this last summer before bringing her to this world record event. Last Saturday I met up with Garth for the first time and we are looking forward flying the two Pink Criplers together some day, honouring lost and love one’s.
When I asked Garth about the story behind the colours, he realized that his first design was indeed still “Wonder Woman”, to him. Wonder Woman is the name given by his friends to the Pink Cripler, due to the kill cone it was using. Garth still misses his first canopy very much. It is therefore my job to continue to take good care of his “Wonder Woman”, the Pink Cripler.