The National Speleological Society is pleased to present video presentations of its long-awaited "Luminary Series" — featuring pioneering cave explorers, karst scientists, and other long-time NSS members. These talks are designed to give young and old cavers alike the opportunity to learn from some of the true superstars in our Society.
This program is the brainchild of AVP Geary Schindel and Dave Hughes; the videos are produced by Dave Socky and Webmaster Alex Sproul. Recommendations for future speakers are encouraged.
2016 CONVENTION, ELY, NEVADA
While living in Washington, Forrest Wilson attended meetings of the D.C. Grotto, met Paul Stevens, and learned of the Organ Cave Project. Paul mentioned that Organ had a sump that “needed diving” and suggested that Forrest take a look. Using an electric light designed for coal mining, and underwater gear that seems sophomoric by today’s standards, Forrest Wilson cracked the Bowen Sump in Organ Cave. Sheck Exley read about the Bowen Sump dives in the D.C. Speleograph and invited himself up from Florida to participate. Together, Wilson and Exley found more than a mile of dry cave, thus becoming the first group in America to discover a mile of passage beyond a sump.
Possessed of an imaginative mind and a knack with tools, Forrest has developed a number of significant cave diving innovations. He constructed an early rebreather to meet the specialized problems of underwater caves. In addition, he conceived and designed a line reel that was specifically configured for cave diving. One of the features of the Wilson Reel is that its enclosed sides are transparent, so that the user could see what was going on with his inventory of dive line. Dive line is critical to finding one's way out of a cave in silt-out conditions; even more critical is knowing which direction is out. Forrest came up with a solution that has become the world standard. In recognition of his efforts, the commercial products now available have been dubbed the Wilson Line Arrow.
It is safe to say that, since the passing of Sheck Exley, Forrest Wilson has become the Senior Statesman of the American cave diving community. Download a copy (53:06, 170 MB)
Donald G. Davis is a well-known authority on speleogenesis even though he has no fancy advanced degrees in the field. Instead, Donald developed his insights by reading, by careful observations while exploring, and by independent thinking while comparing what was similar and different about a wide variety of caves. Early in his caving career, Davis felt that the various theories of speleogenesis coming out of researchers working in eastern United States caves did not seem to explain all of the things that Donald was seeing out in the western United States. And, the formation mechanisms germane to some special western caves turned out to be fascinating indeed.
A self-described eccentric, Donald Davis has led an interesting and somewhat nomadic life. He has worked as a beekeeper, a library aid, an importer for the British Premier carbide lamp, and as a seasonal naturalist in Badlands, in Big Bend, and in Carlsbad National Parks. Along the way, Donald made sustained, original, and lasting contributions to caving, to cave science, to spelean history, and to the NSS. He has been a leading caver in important discoveries in Groaning and associated Colorado caves, in Cave of the Winds and nearby caves, in Lilburn Cave, in the Grand Canyon backcountry, and in the Scapegoat Wilderness in Montana. Donald has racked up tens of miles of virgin passage, some in places where long caves are not the norm.
Throughout Donald Davis’ caving career, a dominant thread has been experiencing and promoting the unity of exploration and science. He views speleology as among the few remaining disciplines where individuals not funded by institutions can still make actual geographic discoveries. Download a copy (53:14, 489 MB)