Profile - Wendy Faulkner | D-17441
Wendy Faulkner, D-17441, is an evangelist when it comes to canopy formation skydiving (or, as many of its participants call it, canopy relative work or CRW). Faulkner started skydiving in 1993 and, after a CF jump in 1996, began a love affair with the discipline. She has been on all the latest CF world records, coaches new CF jumpers and performs parabatics. She is also an AFF instructor, flies camera, holds a PRO rating and simply loves the sport of skydiving.
Marital Status: Single
Occupation: Skydiving videographer and instructor. In a former life, Unix administrator
Education: B.S. in math from Wake Forest University, M.S. in math from Florida State University
Pet Peeves: Skygods, people who take themselves too seriously and spinning line twists
Team Name: Them Toadsuckers
Container: I currently own 12 or 13 Jump Shack Racers.
Main Canopy: Currently packed up—four Aerodyne Research Triathlon 120s, three Triathlon 99s and a Diablo 88; a Performance Designs Sabre 135 and 120, PD 150 and Lightning 113; and a Precision Aerodynamics Batwing 116. It varies regularly, and I sometimes get confused about what is in what rig!
Reserve Canopy: PISA Tempo 120s and a 150, Performance Designs PDR 113s and 126s, Precision Aerodynamics Micro Raven 120s and a 135, and a Flight Concepts Mini-Cricket 130
AAD: None. Have you noticed how many rigs I own?
Home Drop Zone: Skydive Temple in Salado, Texas
Medals: World records for largest canopy formation in 2002, 2003, 2005 and the 100-way in 2007. Women’s world record for largest canopy formation in 1997. USPA Nationals: silver in 8-way speed CF, 2001; bronze in 4-way sequential and 4-way rotation CF, 2009.
Total Number of Jumps: 8,300
Tandems: 10 (on the front!)
Total Number of Cutaways: Necessary ones, 21; for fun on a tertiary system, 30.
Are you a neat packer or a trash packer?
Trash packer—it'll open.
What was your canopy progression?
[I started out on huge canopies] for a 110-pound girl, got [smaller canopies], did only CRW for a while, downsized to small ellipticals, developed a hatred for spinning line twists and cutting away and have upsized, so my normal main is now a Triathlon 120.
Of all your skydives, is there one jump that stands out the most?
The 85-way diamond record we built in 2005. It was flying so beautifully that I wasn't having to work at all, and I've been more scared on squirrelly 4-ways!
What do you like most about the sport?
The people. I love how you can sit down with the best skydivers in the world over a beer and shoot the s**t, and how most of them don't have huge egos, and you would never know just how accomplished they are.
What do you like least about the sport?
The downsizing trend. People want to go fast, and they downsize without learning all their canopies can do. If they don't ever master a slow approach on a 1.0 wing-loaded canopy, it's that much harder to learn it on a 1.2 or a 1.4 or higher-loaded canopy. Then you end up with people with 2,000 jumps landing off on a rocket and trying to do a high-performance landing into a backyard, since the last time they did a slower approach was five years and 1,500 jumps ago. Master all aspects of flight on all canopies you jump. Don't skip out on the not-so-fun stuff and just go fast, because being able to go slow safely will save your life someday.
Who have been your skydiving mentors?
In CRW, Mike Lewis and Chris Gay have definitely taught me a lot over the years.
What are your future skydiving goals?
I'd like to find the time and money to compete in 2-way at Nationals again. Two-way is an absolute blast. Otherwise, I just still want to be skydiving when I am 80!
What safety item is most important or most often neglected?
Understanding your gear. I've met many a skydiver with 1,000 jumps over the years who couldn't assemble their own main or understand how the AAD actually works. Or they repeat lore they've heard about certain parachutes or rigs as fact, when they've never jumped, looked at or even taken the time to understand the gear in question.
How did you become interested in skydiving?
When I was 12 years old, I was visiting my great aunt, and we went to visit her son who was living on a trailer at the DZ. I remember all of the adults complaining about him just doing nothing but jumping, eating fried okra and drinking beer. It sounded like a great life to me! When I was in grad school, it was exam week, and I felt like jumping off of something. I called up the closest drop zone on a Friday, drove three hours to it the next morning, took a static-line class the next day. Did two jumps and never looked back!
What's the most bad-ass thing you can do in the air?
CRW. Being able to fly your parachute within inches of someone and stay there flying in formation is just the coolest.
If you could do a fantasy 2-way with anybody, whom would it be with?
With Tiny Broadwick; I would absolutely love to make a skydive with her!
What kind of skydiving student were you, the typical flailer or a complete natural from jump one?
A kick-ass canopy pilot (had all my accuracies for my D license before I got off student status) but a horrific flailer in freefall. I'd see blue, green, blue, green and try to pull on green. I had 48 jumps when I finally got off student status!
Do you have any suggestions for students?
Relax! And never give up. If I could finally learn to get stable, so can you!
Is there one jump you would like to do over again?
I have an intentional cutaway rig, and I went out one day with one main hooked up forward, and one main hooked up backward. I deployed them both and flew a solo downplane for a while. That jump was a blast!
While in freefall, what has been your strangest thought?
If I don't find my reserve handle (this was after a CRW chop), I'm going to look like a complete and utter idiot in Parachutist!
Do you have any suggestions for USPA?
Make a canopy wing-loading BSR [Basic Safety Requirement], and make people pass a checklist before they can downsize. It's the only way to stop the carnage.
Your peers say you do a lot to keep CF alive and well. How did you earn that distinction?
I've tried to teach everyone around me CRW for years. I believe there is no better way to learn canopy control; you can learn more on one CRW jump than 20 freefall jumps. I have probably drunk the beer from hundreds of folks’ first CRW jumps.
Explain Wendy Faulkner in five words or fewer:
Intelligent, happy, fun-loving, animal-lover, computer-geek