Fourth World POPS meet June 3rd-9th 1997 - Aqaba, Jordan

There were about eighty skydivers attending the meet with a further seventy camp followers. We had jumpers from twelve countries - Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Jordan, New Zealand, Switzerland, the UK and the USA. Our Jordanian hosts, represented by Major Samih Janakat, excelled themselves in their effort to make the meet a success. The drop zone had been built from scratch at the Aqaba International Airport.

The first day of the meet was blown out, well "sandstormed out" would be closer to the truth, and temperatures were always close to 40 Celsius - 105 Fahrenheit, but we survived thanks to endless supplies of cold bottled water.

The first jump of the meet itself was a fun jump from the C130 into the Wadi Rum - see below, and we had two further free Herc jumps onto the beach. During these jumps it was possible to see four countries - Jordan, Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

In spite of variable winds, from zero to 29 knots, there were no serious injuries and all the competition rounds were completed, and we were honoured by the crown prince presenting the awards at the final banquet.

Most people found time to visit the impressive ancient city of Petra, many also travelling to Jerash and the Dead Sea. Glass bottomed boats and scuba diving were also popular in the Gulf of Aqaba, and arm of the Red Sea.

The local people were most welcoming, and it was common to be presented with a glass of hibiscus or cinnamon tea by a shopkeeper with no obligation or pressure to buy. Our favourite haunt was a spice shop in the souk.

Whilst everyone had different experiences, everyone I spoke to agreed that it was an excellent meet, and the Wadi Rum jump in itself justified the trip.

I think that everyone will join me in thanking Mike Allum, World Top Pop #1, for all his efforts in bringing us together for this excellent meet

The Wadi Rum

I was one of eighty skydivers, in small groups, jumped from the tailgate of the C130 Hercules, two and a half miles above the dried up waterway in the desert known as the Wadi Rum. The view below was strange and beautiful, but so outside of my experience that at first it was impossible to gauge the scale. The central dried waterbed was not meters wide but kilometres wide, the rocky bluffs surrounding it were over a thousand feet high.

After opening my parachute, I gasped breathless at the view, then shouted in exhilaration, my voice echoed by the shouts of other parachutists. The size only became apparent once I spotted the smoke from the burning tyre at our target and saw the toy buses waiting for us. I flew over and between the rocky ridges on my descent, then spiralled down to the waiting friends below.

C130 low pass

As I packed my parachute on the floor of the Wadi Rum, parachutes continued to arrive, until even those who had opened at 12000ft had landed. Then the cry "Low pass!" was heard as the Herc approached at less than a hundred feet, pulling up and banking over above our heads.

Just as we were getting over the thrill of the jump, we were ushered on to a couple of dozen four wheel drive pick-ups for a ground level tour of the desert and mountains surrounding the Wadi, the drivers vying with each other to lead the way. Although this was clearly a standard tourist route, including the Bedouin camel troupe we came across - "Very good camel. You ride? One Dinar" - the beauty and peace of the desert was inescapable.

We returned and entered a Bedouin encampment, where we were entertained with singing and dancing and an excellent Arabic meal. One thing stands out in my memory As a group of us had walked out to watch the sun set, we heard the distant sound of prayers being sung as the camels were slowly brought back from the desert. This is a parachute jump and experience I shall never forget.

Competition results

Hit 'n' Rock

1st Pat Moorehead, USA, 5.13 seconds

2nd Tom Zukowski, USA, 6.78

3rd Tony Zuidema, Belgium, 6.88

4th Ted Rose, USA, 6.89

5th Jeff Chandler, UK, 7.20

6th Fran├žois Dive, France, 8.48

7th Theo Fritschy, Switzerland, 8.50

8th Lisa Olsen, USA, 8.75

9th Pete Schmidt, Switzerland, 8.77

10th Husain Kraeem, Jordan, 10.15

Accuracy (5 rounds)

1st Jeff Chandler, UK, 19cm

2nd Peter Schmidt, Switzerland, 24cm

3rd Husain Kraeem, Jordan, 26cm

4th Jim Patterson, Canada, 46cm

4th Tom Zukowski, USA, 46cm

5th Nofan Fukaha, Jordan, 51cm

6th Fran├žois Dive, France, 52cm

7th Karl Poruben, USA, 54cm

8th H.P. Schmidt, Switzerland, 58cm

9th Bent Jakobsen, Denmark, 70cm

10th Hassan Azaida, Jordan, 74cm

4-Way Scrambles (3 rounds)

1st 13 points, VanBiers, Cornils, Patterson, Facer

2nd 11 points, Chandler, P. Schmidt, Hannford, Janssens

3rd 8 points, H.P. Schmidt, Turner, Hillis, Kazmirer

4th 7 points, P. Moorehead, Stockings, Neuman, Fergie

4th 7 points, Hitchen, Marshall, Gardner, S. Pandelus

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