|The 2004 event was the fourth
time that SkyQuest Florida was hosted by Fantasy of Flight, this year on
November 18 - 21. It was also the fourth time at the aerial theme park
in Polk City for the core event of SkyQuest, the NSL Championship. The
inaugural 4-way championship competition of the National Skydiving League
was held in 1998 at Skydive DeLand. The three league champions from Georgia,
Texas and Florida competed for the first NSL medals that year. The same
event was hosted by Skydive DeLand in 1999 and 2000, as well.
Fantasy of Flight
SkyVenture Orlando and the NSL moved
the NSL Championship from DeLand to Fantasy of Flight when the owner of
the theme park and museum in Polk City, Kermit Weeks, opened the Fantasy
of Flight doors for a skydiving event in 2001. Considering the great potential
of the new host, SkyVenture's founder, Bill Kitchen, and NSL President
Kurt Gaebel expanded the NSL Championship to a skydiving event of a larger
size and created SkyQuest Florida together. SkyQuest 2001 included the
annual NSL Championship, Kaleidoscope Dives, Fantasy Swoop, Accuracy Challenge
and a CReW event.
The inaugural 2001 event
was already a great success, the Golden Knights won the first NSL Championship
at Fantasy of Flight. SkyQuest 2002 fell victim to inclement weather, there
was hardly any skydiving at all that year. However, the NSL teams completed
one round, and DeLand Majik took the NSL Shugar Cup from the Golden Knights.
DeLand Majik wins the NSL Shugar
Cup in 2001
The weather was much better in 2003,
and each of the four events (NSL Championship, Kaleidoscope Dives, Fantasy
Swoop, Accuracy Challenge) completed the planned schedule in time. DeLand
Majik defended the NSL title after ten rounds in the AAA Class, while the
Air Force (Colorado Skydiving League) won the AA Class competition and
the Victims of the Wind (Northwest Skydiving League) the A Class medals.
SkyQuest 2004 was almost
too good to be true. The same four events (NSL Championship, Kaleidoscope
Dives, Fantasy Swoop, Accuracy Challenge) did not only complete the whole
schedule, the groups even had enough time and weather to make some extra
jumps. This happened due to a very smooth operation, even though a new
event had been added to the SkyQuest 2004 agenda.
Blue skies and great vibes at SkyQuest
Team Elite, organised and guided
by veteran big-way organiser Guy Wright and his associate Louis Tomasso,
joined SkyQuest 2004 after Wright had offered his services and the management
of his following to the SkyQuest management. SkyQuest discussed the addition
with other event managers, Fantasy of Flight and jump plane operator Paul
Fayard who promised to provide enough aircraft and help mastering a larger
The 40-way group merged easily
into the whole SkyQuest operation and came out as a great addition to the
2004 event. Guy Wright's group made some practice jumps on Thursday and
completed 15 jumps from 15,000 ft. and one jump from 20,000 ft. between
Friday and Sunday. The quality of Team Elite's sequential 40-way skydives
was on a very high level, while the group organised itself very efficiently
and smoothly on the ground.
Guy Wright with Team Elite debriefing
The success of Team Elite's 2004
appearance at SkyQuest motivated Guy Wright and Louis Tomasso to begin
making even bigger plans for SkyQuest 2005 before this year's was completed.
The SkyQuest management and Team Elite will soon begin to discuss the options
for next year's event. Pictures of Team Elite's skydives will be posted
at the SkyQuest website as soon as they are available. The team roster
of Team Elite 2004 included Sally Burgess, Stefan Burstrom, Christian Chandler,
Bruce Chapman, Chantale Comtois, Roger Cunha, Jack Donovan, William Engel,
Charles Finley, Nathalie Gaudreault, Paul Gemmell, Glenn Giamatti, David
Gifford, Jon Griggs, Janel Hale, Gregory Hannaford, Mark Izzo, Hansson
Jerker, Virginia Kuhlmann, Marylou Laughlin, Cara and Lisbeth Laurent,
Aleth Matrone, Sarah McCarthy, James McCormick, Tom McLaughlin, Michelle
Nelson, Jeffrey Nickolson, Mike Oolman, David Parody, Ed Pawlowski, Lori
Pittenger, Gary Pond, Russell Racey, James Rees, Hollie Reno, David Rucker,
Jane Seibert, Steve Tambosso, Graham Wendell, Steve Wertheimer, Steven
White, Bob Wooten, Mary Wright.
Kaleidoscope Divers with BJ Worth
at SkyQuest 2004
BJ Worth organised the Kaleidoscope
Dives 2004 once again and had increased the size of his beautiful formation
sequences to 125-ways. Three Casas and two Twinotters, loaded with a lot
of oxygen, brought the Kaleidoscope Divers ten times to the jump altitude
of 17,000 ft. and dropped them six times from approx. 20,000 ft. Spotting
expert Roger Ponce de Leon knew the event site so well after four years
of SkyQuest participation that the large formations were right on top of
Fantasy of Flight every single time.
However, the larger size
of the formations and the more sophisticated sequences of the Kaleidoscope
Dives 2004 made it more challenging for BJ's group to show the same high-level
quality of the past years. The Kaleidoscope Divers, used to very successful
dives and increasing quality of the jumps over the years, were also challenged
by randomly inconsistent plane positions at exit time. BJ and his team
captains worked very hard to maintain the quality. It took great team work
and patience to finish the Kaleidoscope Dives 2004 with a great last jump
from 20,000 ft.
Fantasy Swoop 2004 in full swing
at Fantasy of Flight
Chris Hayes from DeLand organised
the Fantasy Swoop this year. He continued the tradition of excellent event
management. Lyle Presse set the first wet courses at the Fantasy of Flight
ponds in 2001. Peter Allum took over in 2002, and Kamuran "Sonic" Bayrasli
managed the event in 2003. Sonic then handed the Fantasy Swoop over to
Chris Hayes and showed off his excellent skills as a participant at SkyQuest
2004. Hayes set the challenging courses for this year's event and completed
a very successful event already on Saturday. More Fantasy Swoop 2004 information
and pictures will be added soon.
Last not least, the NSL Championship
attracted a selected group of 4-way teams to the 2004 event and concluded
the 2004 season of the National Skydiving League at SkyQuest 2004 with
great 4-way competition. Arizona Blade of the Southwest Skydiving League
won the NSL Shugar Cup in the AAA Class after a very impressive 2004 season.
The NSL News will soon follow up with an interview of Blade's front piece,
Natasha Montgomery and Thomas Hughes.
NSL Champion 2004 Arizona Blade with
the NSL Shugar Cup
Elsinore Equinox and Carolina Ice
gave each other a great competition in the AA Class. The Carolina Skydiving
League team won the gold medals, NSL AA Class trophy and free SkyVenture
tunnel time with an 11.1 average after ten rounds. Carolina Ice finally
finished the 2004 season with the much deserved reward after the bad luck
at the USPA Championship 2004.
The competition in the A
Class was probably the most exciting part of the 4-way event. GT Airlock
of the Georgia Skydiving League and FSC JAMMM of the Florida Skydiving
League exchanged blows round by round. At the end, the Georgia Tech team
finished one single point ahead of the FSL team from Lake Wales and won
the NSL PD Cup of the A Class. The NSL News will follow up with more details
of the 4-way competition in the next days.