Texans Set a True State Record
Five Minute Call | Jan 16, 2023
Texans Set a True State Record

Laura Galdamez

Above: Point one of the Texas state record comes together. Photo by Daniel Angulo.

On the first weekend in November, skydivers from all over Texas gathered at Skydive Spaceland-Houston in Rosharon at the first Texas State Total-Break Sequential (TBS) Record Event, with hopes to set the Texas Record for Largest Two-Point Full-Break Sequential Formation Skydive. This invitation-only event brought together a small group of the most talented belly flyers across the state of Texas … and only Texas. The organizers of the event—Larry Henderson, Scott Latinis and Billy Whitaker—intentionally drew the line: This would be a record set in Texas, by Texans. (Even the judges were Texans!) It was a basic event requirement: Participants had to show that their drivers licenses had addresses in the state of Texas. 

The group intended to have 15 attempts at the two-point TBS, five jumps each day over a three-day weekend, with passes at 16,500 feet. The official Texas big-way record is currently 150, which means the TBS record needed to be at least a 38-way according to the rules. Day one was completely weathered out, with thick clouds and high winds shutting down any hope for jumping. Day two started similarly; the drop zone was socked in with a low cloud layer that seemed to taunt participants with an occasional sucker hole. The group had to wait until early afternoon for the first jump. The 39-member group started by making formation-load 20-ways to help determine fall rate and practice building the base. (And for any doubters: Yes, Latinis can see over the top of the left trail Twin Otter to give a simultaneous arm wave count to both airplanes at the same time!) After the successful small-group practice, it was off to the races. However, the group was able to squeeze in only two record-attempt jumps before the early sunset shut them down for the day. While the second attempt was close, the group missed a few grips on the second point. The day capped off nicely with an amazing Texas-style barbeque hosted by Patie and Ron Lavoie at their ranch near the drop zone.

The team succeeds in setting the Texas Record for Largest Full-Break Sequential with a two-point 39-way. Photo by Daniel Angulo.

Weather on the last day seemed more of the same, only worse. Low, thick clouds moving quickly over the skies kept the jumpers grounded all morning. The group had nearly given up hope when the organizers pulled them together for final options. They could simply call it a tough break and leave, or stick it out for what looked like the only shot at a jump, right around the previously set release time. It was almost a unanimous response: They weren’t going anywhere! About an hour later, the 20-minute call rang out, and the group buzzed with hope and excitement. This was it; this was their one shot! They all had to have the best skydive of their lives at the same time, right now, to make this work. They all knew there was a chance they’d get up to altitude and might have to take the disappointing plane ride down, but they all agreed it was better than not taking the shot at all. They made one last dirt dive to refocus, one last hands-in with Henderson and boarded the planes. The ride up was quieter than before. Everyone was hyper-focused.

It was like a scene out of a movie. You know, the one where the game is tied with the clock running out, and a basketball player is running like hell up to the three-point line, lobs the ball as the count hits zero, and then everyone holds their breath?

And, you know what? Swish, baby! They did it! Thirty-nine Texans made a successful two-point, total-break skydive!

A celebration and distribution of lollipops in honor of a recently passed Texas skydive family member Debbie Maline capped off the event. Maline was a swim instructor and would always reward the kids she was teaching with a lollipop for a job well done. Latinis looked at the judges, Helaine Rumaner and Lori Mitchell, before passing the candy out to the record team, asking, “Did they earn these?”

Well, everyone got to enjoy those lollipops. Job well done!

Laura Galdamez | C-50829
Humble, Texas

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