2015 Luminary Series – Forrest Wilson

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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.

2015 Luminary Series – Forrest Wilson

June 1, 2015

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