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Skydive Swoop League Meet in Raeford, North Carolina

This past weekend, the Swaggerjack crew loaded up in our trusted Toyota Tundra and headed north on I-95 to beautiful Fayetteville, North Carolina to film the fourth meet of the season for the Swoop League. With clear skies and fair traffic, we made excellent time, which afforded us a brief break at one of the south-east’s most famous tourist traps; South of the Border. As its name implies, it is located just south of the North Carolina-South Carolina line, with some of the property spanning both states. Featuring 24-hour service stations, restaurants, a reptile lagoon, and fireworks, South of the Border is a fun, traditional stop anytime we travel up the east coast.

The Swoop League meet took place at the Raeford Parachute Center, about 20 minutes away from where we stayed, Fayetteville. The North Carolina Department of Transportation has a wonderful wildflower program, and the May flowers did not disappoint! There were entire medians covered with yellow, purple, and burgundy flowers; all blooming wildly with many happy insects buzzing about them.

This was our first visit to a skydive drop-zone outside of Florida and we weren’t entirely sure what to expect. Our GPS led the way as we followed the turns blindly waiting to see some sign of an airport. When the familiar voice told us to “turn left on Doc Brown Road,” we knew we had to be close.


Raeford Parachute Center is a quaint, welcoming drop-zone with a full bar, delicious BBQ, and the Raeford Dragon. Located so close to Ft. Bragg, this drop-zone attracts many military jumpers, demo jumpers, and veterans. When we arrived, a demo team of Veteran jumpers were preparing for a demo jump and loaded into their Cessna. Within minutes of take-off, the plane experienced some issues forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing in a nearby yard. The veteran parachutists opted to exit the plane and parachuted safely to the ground.

Walking through the property, we quickly realized that the only difference between this drop-zone and our Florida drop-zones is location. The same wonderful crowd of people seems to flock around manifest, there are comical characters wandering about, and there are children excitedly waiting for their parents to fly down from the sky. Drop-zones have a knack for always creating a fun and enjoyable atmosphere for all, and Raeford is no exception.

The swoop meet had both amateurs and professionals competing, with many teams from across the nation. Thirty jumpers showed up to compete, and it was a very successful day with only minor accidents and delays. The meet started with the Zone-Accuracy event, followed by a Distance event. The afternoon ended with a Speed event, where swoopers tried to swoop as fast as they safely could. Swaggerjack caught the action on camera and will be releasing an edited video soon.

During the Distance event, a new North Carolina competition distance record was set at 128.73 meters by Tommy Dellibac of Zephyrhills, FL. The very first round of the Speed event hosted a severe crash, where Mike McGuire did not clear the lip of the pond and caught his lower back at extreme speeds. An ambulance took him to the nearest medical facility for a full evaluation to ensure there is no permanent damage. Tommy Dellibac, a member of the PD Factory Team, also set a new North Carolina competition speed record with a time of 2.320 seconds. Dellibac won the gold for this heat, with Kelsey Mizuer earning the silver and Greg Windmiller with bronze.

We look forward to the next and final swoop meet of the 2012 regular season the weekend of June 9th at Skydive the Farm in Georgia! Big thanks to Albert Berchtold for allowing us to film and photograph such an amazing event and to Raeford Parachute Center for being such excellent hosts!


Big Basin Redwood State Park

Looking up a Fairy Ring

No trip to Northern California is complete without a good hike through a redwood forest. These trees are stunning, breathtaking, and invigorating for a love of nature. Fortunately for us, there are several redwood choices near Santa Cruz; our traditional favorite has become the Big Basin Redwood Forest State Park. They offer camping, miles of hiking, and gorgeous redwoods hundreds of years in the making.

After paying the small entry fee, we ventured out to explore the trails. There is a main loop that covers many of the forest’s largest trees that is only about half a mile long. This loop features an “animal tree” with growths at the bottom of the trunk resembling animals, many “fairy rings,” where groups of redwoods grow together in a circular shape, and “chimneys,” trees that have survived forest fires but are left with hollowed, chimney-like centers.

Animal tree on left, Chimney on right

Another Chimney on left, Fairy Ring on right

There is also a “Mother” and “Father” of the forest, the two trees thought to be the largest. They each have a massive circumference and impressive height. Unfortunately, years ago there was a storm that knocked off a portion of the “Mother’s” top, but she is still large enough to escape the frame of our camera!

Mother and Father Tree

After walking through these trails and adoring the picturesque redwoods, I had to get close to one. Below is a size-reference picture to help us remember just how massive these giants are. These trees have survived hundreds of years and are a beautiful piece of American history that deserve to be protected and cared for.