Wow, what a day!
The day started with the Pioneers of Sport Parachuting’s group asking me to shoot vid of their jump.
Holy COW! Jumping with Ted Strong (amongst others), there were easily 50,000 jumps on that plane, most of the folks having started jumping between 1954 and 1964. Some of the jumpers hadn’t jumped in over 5 years, some were as current as last week. And they ROCKED!
Ted Strong led the group out of the door of our King Air, in the front float position. Bam!….they were flying. It was GREAT. A fourway quickly grew to a five, six, seven way, and it was time for break-off. In the camera slot, I stayed in center as the group tracked off, and lemme tell you…some of the group could *really* track. I deployed lower than usual and wasn’t in the saddle until about 2200, but there were several in this group of old-timers that were well below me. I commented on it, and a couple said “Son, when we were jumping, we were going lower than 1000 feet.” I can’t help but wonder if they realize that these new-fangled squares sometimes take 1000 feet to open. It was awesome. Everyone had fun, everyone was safe, and we smiled at the end.
The real fun came at the banquet, listening to stories from the past, watching videos that Howard White put together and projected on a screen, and meeting some of the original people in the sport such as Viktor (can’t pronounce his last name) who won the first World Championships in 1949, and Jim Arender who won it in 1954, and was the best all-around skydiver in the world in 1954 as well. And he looks awesome!
Senator Jake Garn, who had just made his first skydive yesterday, decided to attend our event. He regaled our table with stories of being an astronaut, what it was like to ride Discovery, and he was very impressed with Scotty Burn’s photos of the space shuttle and wingsuits. he was as gracious as you could imagine, and he stayed the entire time, in spite of needing to be on an airplane to London at 4 a.m. the next day. I was so utterly impressed with him.
When the Pioneers of the sport stood up to offer a moment of silence to those that have passed in the process of discovering aspects of sport parachuting, it was stunning to realize that the people being honored truly wrote the BSR’s in blood. There have been so many…
to the Pioneers of the Sport Parachuting; Thank you so much for allowing me a small glimpse inside your world, and allowing me to be part of this very special event. What an incredible reunion.