Wisconsin CRW Boogie

By Amy Gralewski

In August of 2008, as the first Wisconsin CRW Boogie drew to a close, the most commonly heard phrase was, “I can’t wait ’til next year!” Planning for the 2008 Boogie had only begun in May, and no one expected it to grow to the size that it did. Surprised at the success, some wondered how it could get any better.

Any such questions were put to rest at the 2nd Annual Wisconsin CRW Boogie, held August 13-16, 2009 at Skydive Milwaukee / Sky Knights Sport Parachute Club in East Troy, Wisconsin.

Last year’s state CRW record stood at 14, and with the drop zone flying a PAC 750XL and a C-182, there wasn’t a lot of room to break that record. The event organizers and dropzone staff tossed around the idea of trying to do the new record with the two current planes, but ultimately decided it was time to bring in more lift capacity. The dropzone’s neighbor to the South in Hinckley, IL, agreed to lease the dropzone their brand new PAC. This brought the total number of brand new PACs to two, as the PAC that currently flies at Skydive Milwaukee arrived at the beginning of the season with less than ten hours on the engine.

25-Way CRW Record. Photo by Eric Bernetzke.

25-Way CRW Record. Photo by Eric Bernetzke.

Although the CRW dogs and pups were jumping at the chance to not only break, but annihilate, the current record, the organizers knew that the high-deployment CRW dogs and pups alone wouldn’t keep the pair of high-performance PACs turning loads. No one wants to see two beautiful aircraft sitting on the ground on a beautiful weekend, so the organizers began brainstorming other ways to keep the planes flying. “What about the old guys?” they asked…Enter the Parachutists Over Phorty Society. The last Wisconsin POPS record had been set in 2007 over East Troy; local POP Nick “Fish” Birdsall agreed it was time to try again, and began rallying the troops.

Though the Boogie technically started on Friday, some of the nearby CRW dogs were so anxious to begin that they arrived on Thursday and were jumping by early afternoon. Local CRW pup Jef LeRette earned the distinction of CRW dog after an eventful jump with Jim “Razz” Rasmussen and Brian “B-Mart” Martin. Not only did Jef experience his first canopy wrap, he had a moment of clarity as he reached for silver, realizing that this would be his first save after earning his Rigger’s ticket. Mike Lewis, one of the best CRW dogs in the world, was on hand with about 10-15 other dogs to help get some of the newer pups up to speed so that they could participate in the record attempts.

Friday was a beautiful day for jumping, with even more CRW jumpers arriving to get in on the action. They broke last year’s record early when videographer April Schuldt decided to tag a 14-way diamond. (April wanted to write this article, but when asked, replied by saying, “I figured it wouldn’t be very modest to write about how awesome I am ‘cuz I broke the record on Fri. taggin’ on the 14-way breakin’ it to 15 while filming! Haha That was cool. Glory for about 12 hrs!!!” Since when has a skydiver ever been modest?!?) After a full day of jumping, the drop zone provided a spaghetti dinner and free beer for all boogie registrants, and jumpers made new friends and caught up with old ones throughout the evening.

Saturday brought another beautiful morning and even more guests, including a welcome addition to the fleet—the second PAC. About 35 CRW jumpers and 30 POPS jumpers circled up early under the drop zone’s famous “Ravin’s Nest”. Saturday was a frenzy of activity, with a ton of tandem students gearing up, a full AFF class in progress, videographers doing student interviews all over the grounds, office and manifest staff cranking out waivers and paperwork, and packers setting up a secondary packing area to keep up with the demand.

PD New Beginning

The CRW jumpers and organizers (Mike Lewis, Jim “Razz” Rasmussen, Roger McClelland, and Eduardo Guillen) were the first to set a new record out of both PACs with a beautiful 25-way diamond, with Razz taking the lead for his first time piloting a formation of that size. Videographers Eric Bernetzke and Jeff Klingbell were there to take some beautiful pictures of the formation. Inspired and confident in the ability of even the newest pups, they decided to do it again just so that jumpers who weren’t on the first record would get their chance. April Schuldt and Eric Bernetzke came along to do video for the record, allowing Jeff Klingbell to become a participant this time. This time April didn’t tag the formation, so another 25-way formation was built. As if that weren’t enough, those CRW jumpers who were also POPS members made their own record attempt, and completed a 14-way CRW POPS formation—the first ever noted in Wisconsin.

The POPS jumpers had also been planning and dirt diving all day, and the celebration from the CRW participants was infectious.

Not to be outdone, the POPS jumpers, led by organizer Terry Rago, went up for what they hoped to be their fourth and final attempt. They successfully built a 24-way formation, outdoing the standing 20-way record, but video debrief revealed an extra grip (by Nick “Fish” Birdsall, no less!) that put celebrations on hold. With daylight left, the POPS jumpers decided that they weren’t going home empty handed, and gathered up anyone who hadn’t taken off yet for another attempt. This time there was no hooting and hollering upon landing, only cautious optimism, as the proof would be in the video. When asked about the jump, videographer Greg Shields simply smiled, knowing that the formation had been completed as planned, and there would be a new 24-way record on the books.

POPS Participants. Photo by Greg Shields.

POPS Participants. Photo by Greg Shields.

Saturday night’s festivities were enhanced by the smiles of numerous new record holders, and especially by the jumpers who earned the day’s trifecta: local jumpers John Bechtel and Tim Shue had been on all three record jumps! The drop zone provided a traditional BBQ dinner and more free beer, though many paid beer fines that evening as well. With Sunday’s forecast promising prohibitive wind and rain, jumpers were content to revel in their accomplishments and party into the early hours of the morning.

All in all, the 2009 CRW Boogie was a huge success, drawing jumpers from 13 states across the nation as well as from Canada! With the new CRW record at 25 and the POPS record at 24, this year’s most commonly heard phrase was “Guess you’ll need an Otter next time…”

The Sky Knights Sport Parachute Club thanks all of the boogie participants, and congratulates those who were on the record jumps. It’s been very exciting to be part of a resurgence of CRW interest in the Midwest—we thank Razz, April, and the other organizers for sharing their knowledge and infectious CRW-dog spirit with us and getting this ball rolling.

We would also like to extend a sincere thank you to our entire staff—pilots, packers, instructors, office/manifest staff, ground crew—for working together to make this boogie a success. We’ll be looking into making the next boogie even better—though no promises on that Otter, ok?

Record Participants

CRW 25-Way #1 CRW 25-Way #2 POPS 24-Way
James Rasmussen James Rasmussen Terry Rago
Paul Peterson Paul Peterson Susanne Rago
Dave Holmvik Dave Holmvik Nicholas “Fish” Birdsall
Chad Neidigh Chad Neidigh Sandy Thiede
John Bechtel John Bechtel David Langhoff
Francois Huot Francois Huot Tim Shue
Tom Stewart T LaVonne John Bechtel
T LaVonne Keith Paulsen John Waldeck
Jef LaRette Mike Livieri Lorie Koop
Eduardo Guillen Roger McClelland John Lindstrom
Bob Felt Bob Felt Brian LaDow
Jason Smith Jason Smith Wes Colker
Eric Gallan Eric Gallan Stephen Hess
Brent Racine Brent Racine Julie Kniech
Brian Martin Brian Martin Dave Kottwitz
Daniel Harvey Ken Kniech Russell Patterson
Shireen Khavari Shireen Khavari Renee Ryder
Michael Tomaselli Michael Tomaselli Jay Slesarenko
Jamie Cromer Jamie Cromer Chris Whittet
Linda Ruiz Linda Ruiz Steve “Woody” Brown
Jeremy Olexa Jeremy Olexa Steven Anderson
Roger McClelland Brad Kult Sam Caban
Josh Luba Josh Luba Al Booth
Tim Shue Jeff Klingbell Mark Mueller
Michael Lewis Michael Lewis
Video Video Video
Jeff Klingbell April Schuldt Greg Shields
Eric Bernetzke Eric Bernetzke Terry Rago
James Rasmussen Susanne Rago


  • There was also a CRW POPS record that day! 13-way.

    Mike Lewis, Linda Ruiz, John Betchel, Paul Peterson, Tom Stewart, Roger McClelland, Shireen Khavari, Eduardo Guillen, Chico Tomaselli, Bob Felt, Tim Shue, Jeff Klingbell, Mike Livieri

  • Yeah O.K. Fish screwed up the 4 th jump , the most quiet , uneventful dive of the day . However the Pac 750 , supposed to be designed for skydiving , winged over on the first dive , because of the aft C.G. and poseble piolt inexperience. We knew this aircraft was going to present a challenge for doing bigger way R.W. and that was correct. Than on the last jump , after my wrong grip , {big time skull fart} me and Ravin watched from the trail plane , the Pac do it a second time , with a 95 knot forward speed and a slight nose decent it rolled again sending the base off the aircraft and putting the late divers way late. Next year I hope to put the POPs record up to 40 way but will be looking for a twin otter or Skyvan for lead plane.If any POPs jumpers would like to help us break it again next year contact Fish Oh yeah look for Washington Island 2010 The Death Door boogie

    • Hey Fish, I hope you weren’t offended by what I wrote about the missed grip, I meant it all in good fun. :)

  • Just to set the record straight – because I know my friend and co-worker Chad won’t bother despite his pride and excitement of being a part of this event – his last name is “Neidigh” with an “h”. Congratulations to everyone involved, you bunch of crazy b*stards.

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