The Canopy Piloting community has been reeling from a rough few weeks after a few high profile accidents. Most recently had been an accident which claimed the life of Walt Hawkins. As competitors arrived for the Skydive Sacramento Pro/Am there were somber greetings and reflections on our fallen friends. Walt was an amazing person, always quick to help everyone around him and always had a smile on his face. He had a big part in getting the Sacramento pond up and running again, and always made sure the pond was as well maintained as possible while it was around. Walt and his wife Sharon organized this whole meet, making it a Pro/Am so that the Am’s could get as much help and learning as possible. The comp was held on a Thursday so that there could be a dedicated King Air for the competitors. There was a great turn out, 24 competitors showed up to compete in Walt’s memory. The weather was not cooperating the day before the competition and no practice jumps were made due to high winds.
The morning of the competition, the weather was much better and the winds were only at 6 mph. The competitor briefing happened around 7:30, with Sharon thanking the great turnout for support Walt. This competition was a much more relaxed meet. It was about being together as a community and having fun in the sport we love. Curt and Jeannie had a 30 hour travel day from Uruguay to California the day before the competition, and had zero training jumps on location before the competition started. They used the practice jump the morning of the comp to get acquainted with Skydive Sacramento. Ryan Brownlow and his wife had also taken off work to support the event. There was a great judge turnout and even some vendors in the form of Safeish and Sierra Navada brewing company with tents set up. With the side of the pond covered in spectators, the competitors started the comp with the Speed event. Curt started off the comp with the fastest speed time in the Pro’s, and Ben Lowe started the Am comp with the best time. The speed event moved along smoothly with Curt putting the fastest speed time of the meet up in the second round, and Jessie Brownlow putting the fastest Am time on the board in the same round.
From there the comp moved to distance. The winds had died down to a light head wind and the weather was looking beautiful for a swoop comp. The first round went off without a hitch, with the judges doing a great job. In the second round of speed there was an accident where Dave Hebert crashed, missing the pond on the first impact and ending up in the pond at the end of the tumble. Everyone was quick to attend to him and help out. Dave will make a full recovery and ended up coming out of the rather scary looking crash with just a broken leg. Everyone at the event sends their well wishes and were very happy that he is ok. After the break in action from that incident, the jumping resumed and distance was finished.
The competition was rounded out with the visually appealing Zone Acc. The spectators cheered as all the jumpers came in and posted great scores in light tailwind conditions. Curt had 2 stand up landings in zone 6 and then zone 5 giving him 1st place in Zone Acc. Ryan flew 2 extremely smooth and consistent runs on his Petra in a tailwind and put a lot of points on the board to round out the competition. When the dust settled, Ben Lowe took 1st place in the Amateur class with a 1st in Speed, 2nd in Distance and 2nd in Zone Acc. 2nd Place overall for the Am’s was Nathan Emmett, and rounding out the podium was Jessie Brownlow. Congrats to all the Am’s who flew an awesome and safe meet. Curt took 1st place overall for the Pro class with a 1st in speed, 1st in distance, and 1st in zone accuracy. He walked away with 595.822 out of 600. Ryan Brownlow ended the comp in 4th place overall with a 2nd place finish in zone accuracy. At the awards, Curt and Scott Harper said a few words in remembrance of Walt to all those that were gathered, and then the trophies were distributed to the winners.
The team would like to thank Skydive Sacramento and all of the judges who made the meet happen. A special thank you goes to Sharon Hawkins for organizing the meet after everything that had happened. We all know that it was not easy for her to be there doing what she did and we are all grateful that we could support the event and Walt’s memory. It was a very special event and Alter Ego was extremely honored that we could have a great presence to support someone as special as Walt. We will all miss him dearly and we, as a community, would like to send our love out to Walt, Sharon, and the entire Hawkins family during their time of need.
Photos by Will McDaniel and Phil Zidek