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What the F**k Just Happened at Skydive Cross Keys?

By Michael Brewer
August 10, 2018
5 min read time

        Let’s just start this off by saying that boogies generally are, by definition, awesome. Novelty planes, rad organizers, long-lost friends and excessive substance abuse? What’s not to love. That being said, not all boogies are created equal. The wrong vibe, bad weather, disorganized management, and dangerous behavior are all factors that can lead to dud boogies. As an organizer and videographer, I never know what to expect flying into a new event at a dropzone I’ve never seen. So, when I was apprehensively guzzling gin drinks on my late-night flight into Philly, I had no idea the beautiful insanity I was in for at the Skydive Cross Keys 4th of July Boogie.

        If you clicked on this article and don’t want to read the rest, let me just sum it up by saying this: If you haven’t spent a weekend at this dropzone, you’re doing skydiving wrong. It’s not too often, at the end of an event, that I have trouble believing all of the insane things that just went down. In this case, I don’t think I’ll be able to comprehend most of them until I’ve put them on the page. Since there are far too many moments to share, I’ve narrowed the list down to the top moments that made me think, “What the f**k just happened?”

Mile High Hub - XRW at Skydive Cross Keys
Photo Credit: Dylan Mitchell
        1. The time I filmed an XRW formation flocking with a Caravan.

        After slugging around until the early afternoon because of weather, Pico invited me to film something really cool. What videographer is going to say, “no” to that? On a second pass from altitude, Iain Jensen (canopy) and Katie Hansen (wingsuit) exited, followed shortly by an abrupt sideslip from the Caravan, which almost launched me out the door. I clenched my butthole through a few minutes of awkward and unnerving flight that yielded some really cool footage. The scariest part was exiting the plane in that configuration (to get an outside shot of the formation). Katie was laughing at my body language from her surf dock. Pico probably still thinks I’m an idiot for being so worried about hitting the tail. What legends.

Mile High Hub - Wingsuit dock with plane
        2. The next day, when Katie docked on the caravan in her wingsuit.

        “Not this again,” was my first thought when they told me another wingsuit/plane flock was in the works. But, I was a little more prepared, found a better seat in the plane, and got my mind blown again. Fun Fact: Atmospheric turbulence is real, and Katie has the biggest cajones around for making that wing dock look easy despite that big, epoxy baseball bat swinging back and forth beside her. This time I rode the plane back down. For a good reason, I promise.

Mile High Hub - Swooping through smoke
        3. When I got to swoop through smoke atop a massive Star-Spangled Banner on the very next load.

        Fast-forward to the good reason I rode the plane down. The hardworking, focused, totally professional locals decided to paint in the landing area an American Flag across that I’m pretty sure you could see from space (I feel confident I won’t be fact-checked on this, since none of us degenerates will ever make it into NASA). Cross Keys’ own Logan Donovan orchestrated a hop-and-pop load so that we could blast over the flag through a pluming wall of red, white, and blue smoke. Pico sent the plane with only three people on board—minimums what?—and after the shortest climb to altitude ever, we ripped Old Glory a new one. Very patriotically, of course.

        I really should thank/apologize to the Fluid Wings guys. They go out of their way to take care of my gear, and I go out of my way to abuse it. Thanks for the overnight line set, sorry it’s got paint all over it!

Mile High Hub - record attempt
        4. The time I filmed a women’s naked state record (attempt).

        Not much record-setting happened on this jump, but who doesn’t love a good reason to get naked? Props to these ladies for laying it all out there, on a load full of dudes no less. Equal props to the dudes for keeping the GoPros turned off. Maybe there is hope for the human race.

Mile High Hub - Flying next to plane T-6 Texan warbird angle jumpm
        5. The time me and Jason got to do an angle jump next to a T-6 Texan warbird.

        First flown in April of 1935, the T-6 was an American military workhorse until the Vietnam War. It was retired in 1995, until it was called back into service by Pico’s Air Force over Cross Keys, NJ for one more mission: a dog-fight with some angle-flyers. To be perfectly honest, this shot was over faster than you could say, “Holy shit, I’m flying next to a WWII fighter.” Still, it’s one of my favorite skydiving memories to date, and I owe 100% credit to Pico for being willing to fly that load, regardless of its inevitable failure. Wow.

        Really, I could keep going with this list but it’s futile. Everything about jumping at this DZ made me smile. Tandems and fun jumps from 23,000 feet, biplanes ripping down the runway between loads, helicopter jumps, a bounce house, a massive grill, the heckle-deck, nudity, the sick atmosphere, the awesome people… I’d have to write a book, not an editorial. Since I’m already in the middle of one of those, I’ll leave you with this: buy a plane ticket to New Jersey and check out this dropzone. Then reevaluate all the ways you’re doing skydiving wrong. Enjoy.

        A picture is worth a thousand words, but if you want to see the video from this event, you can click the link here: https://vimeo.com/280750497

About Michael Brewer

Michael Brewer earned a BFA in Creative Writing at UNC Wilmington before throwing his life away to become a full-time skydiving Coach, Tunnel-Instructor, and Videographer. He currently does laundry in Raeford, North Carolina, when he isn’t traveling around the world to do hoodrat stuff with his friends. His poor life choices are made possible by the rad ladies and gentlemen at Fluid Wings, and the awesome management at Paraclete XP. He also thinks Sexy Stowz will be the next big thing. 

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