the “Hungary Heli Camp” is a rich contrast to their first. June’s Adventure Boogie in Bovec was nestled in amongst the Slovenian Alps. But end of July, Skydive Balaton is an immense spread of grass sitting just a few kilometres from the shore of the lake which lends the dropzone its name. For many, back in Bovec the event was as much about the variety of activities on offer as it was jumping from a modestly sized Pilatus Porter and being very careful not to track into the mountains.
Above this pancake flat part of Hungary, things are different. People come here to jump the MI-8. A helicopter used around the world for everything you can imagine a helicopter being used for. It can lug twenty-six skydivers up to altitude with enough speed to turn thirty loads on a long hot Summer day.
The Heli-Camp is a straight up skills camp – two events back-to-back over two weeks – and people are here to zoom. Carefully curated and coached groups hot-load into the back of the aircraft. Sometimes not every skydiver on board is part of a tracking plan that has the leaders precisely coordinating and tracing five or six different lines in the sky. But everyone is pretty confident that everybody will make it back to somewhere on the colossal landing area.
with facilities to accommodate many people on site and provide a full three meals a day. Yet while here it is an essential adventure to head into town amidst the touristy chaos of the lakeshore. Lake Balaton is huge, and no doubt has lots to offer around its edge. Yet the nearest town is a sunburn and iffy dance music kind of place well worth witnessing in person, until good sense kicks in and you retreat to somewhere more civilised.
The weather is mostly good across both weeks, with only the build-and-release drama of the odd lightning storm providing any schedule-altering downtime. Away from the jumping activity, people rest and hide from the powerful sunshine in the shade amidst the hangars and vendor tents, or slackline between the trees during the cooler hours.
inspire loyalty with the quality and organisation of their events. It is not uncommon for jumpers to sign up for both weeks, or even follow them from one location to the next over the season. Keen to enjoy the variety they offer and perhaps sign up for the extras, such as the filmmaking workshop running concurrently throughout the two weeks here that sees budding creatives present their pieces night-by-night.
This seventh year will be the last Tora Tora Heli Camp at Skydive Balaton. With the popularity and turnout in 2019 this is by no means through necessity – more so that it is a big wide world out there in which Tora Tora are dedicated to the evolution of our sport. Not limited to just repeating the same things over and over, but finding things new and exciting and taking us along for the ride.