Jumpers Set Ohio Records During Supermoon
People | Dec 18, 2023
Jumpers Set Ohio Records During Supermoon

Ebby Boehm

Above: The 16 jumpers form their “Night Jewel” record formation on Saturday night of the camp. Photo by Brian Raeder.

September 29-30, the night skies over Aerohio Skydiving Center in Ashland were even more spectacular than usual. Both nights, a harvest supermoon rose in service to Sherry Butcher and Dave Lepka’s night sequential camp that saw the establishment of two Ohio night records—a 14-way and a 2-point 14-way sequential. And that was jump one of the first night!

On day two, organizers Ebby Boehm and Mike Canary welcomed two additional local jumpers to the team, and the expanded group then built the world’s first Night Jewel, a complex 16-way formation that eclipsed the prior night’s single-point record. The record-setting jumpers were Boehm, Nicole Brewer, Butcher, Canary, Randy Carrico, Jacob Choy, Jim Dolan, Steven Lambino, Jay Luccioni, Scott Macario, Casey Magyar, Frank Mazur, Bud Prenatt, Ben Pritchard, Brian Raeder, Austin Rosenbloom and Justin Smieja.

Both evenings’ dives built and flew beautifully, including the Night Jewel, which was complete and rock-stable above 8,000 feet. Interestingly enough, the state records were a completely incidental result of the event. As a matter of fact, Boehm and Canary had completed a night sequential camp at Skydive City Zephyrhills in Florida last April before even discovering that the USPA Board of Directors had moved to recognize state night records at all!

Typical night-jump briefings focus on single jumpers making solo night jumps, but these camps aim to reverse engineer safe descents and landings by multiple jumpers. Friday morning’s two-hour briefing started with setting aside misconceptions such as concerns about not being able to see each other, or not knowing who is who in the dark. Discussion followed regarding lights and how to secure them both in freefall and under canopy.

The centerpiece presentation was the plan for the canopy descent and landing of the group as a unit, rather than individuals. This plan had begun with limiting wing loading as a prerequisite to joining the camp. Then, canopy wing loading was used as the determining factor for slot assignments within breakoff waves. This was one of the biggest departures from typical organizing.

Additionally, the plan called for each jumper maintaining their same exit position and breakoff assignments on each point, on every dive throughout the camp. Gear-check partners were assigned. Gear cross-checks were scheduled before dirt diving and repeated before every boarding. Nothing was left to imagination. Every detail was consistently maintained through day practice and night jumps, the idea being that the time jumpers spend rehearsing and building confidence in the dive plan serves to reduce anxiety at night.

However, there was one big surprise the first night, but it wasn’t that the two-point sequential built so smoothly. Skydivers couldn’t prepare during the day for cameraman Brian Raeder’s lights generating a staggering 62,000 lumens! At the video debrief, one jumper asked, “Does this even still qualify as a night dive?” Suffice it to say, all the jumpers could see the key.

Ebby Boehm | D-9410
Bradenton, Florida


Update to the above article:

In the article “Jumpers Set Ohio Records During Supermoon” on page 16 of the December issue, my belief that our AerOhio group was the first to build a night jewel was inaccurate. Very recently, I received information about a night jewel that was built at Aero Country, a DZ north of Dallas, Texas, in July of 1983. Apparently, the event was featured in USPA’s 1984 “Leap Year” calendar, which I somehow missed.

The participants of the July 2, 1983, Texas Night Jewel were David Arnquist, Tim Boyd, Bobby Brown, Willy Caldwell, John Embry, Mike Flores, Bruce Head, Gary Hollingshead, John O’Neill, Jory Pacht, Tim Patterson, Calvin Reeves, Jim Ruttan, Jeff Smith, Scott Wall and Richard Whitehill, with Bill Parsons flying camera. I celebrate the achievement of these ‘80s Texas skygods, and sincerely apologize for my ignorance of their achievement. 

Ebby Boehm | D-9410

Editor’s Note—We missed that too. Thank you for giving credit where credit is due!

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