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It all started one day in the late 1980's

Late 1980's 1.0
If you look at my profile picture, it will give you a good idea about this story. It all started one day in the late 1980s. I had talked to my friend's friend into getting us some beer. It was to be for a bonfire party down on the river. Someone must have ratted us out because as soon as he gave me the beer, a cop showed up. We were put into different squad cars, and off to the police station, I went. I never did find out where he went.

I was put in the drunk tank for being in possession of alcohol as a minor. It was weird being in there sober. There was one other guy in there that was passed out. He had puked on himself, and it stank so bad. I started thinking that at least I get one phone call. I knew that from the movies and TV shows. Well, I was wrong. I found out later that one of the officers knew my Dad. He called Dad for me. Dad told him to leave me there for the night. Thanks, Dad!
The Judge assigned me to eighty hours of restitution work. I was to clean the grown-up brush out of a fence along the back of the airport. That was one long fence. I remember thinking that there was no way I could do it all. As I was working with the hand saw and pruning tools, I noticed that I wasn't alone. Way down the fence was another guy doing the same thing. And that's how I met Ziggy.

Ziggy and I were both in junior high but went to different schools. Over the next few days, we talked about different things, but the one thing that kept coming up was skydiving. My Uncle was a skydiver but had passed away when I was thirteen. I found out that his Dad jumped years ago and still had all of his old skydiving gear. The more we talked, the more we got the itch.

We decided to talk to his Dad and maybe barrow the old gear. We were young and naive. Ziggy's Dad was cool about it and helped us go about it the right way. It turns out that you actually need training and proper gear to learn to skydive. The funny thing was that we found out that Ziggy's Dad had jumped with my Uncle back in the day.
 
That's how it all started. Over time I have turned that itch that most people call an extreme sport into my profession. I've often thought about writing down the stores that took place over the thirty plus years and more than twenty thousand skydives that followed. This thread is a test to see if someone would be interested in them. If you can put up with my writing mistakes and less than professional storytelling, I will continue. Feel free to comment, ask questions, or tell your own stories as we go.
 
Late 1980's 1.1
The skydiving "school" is at a small private but open to the public airport. You can drive right by it and not even know that it's there. It has one short and narrow paved strip. And a grass strip that runs parallel to it. There are a few rows of tin-roofed T hangers and a big grassy area between the hangers and some farm fields. On the edge of the grass was an old house trailer. The trailer had been converted into a makeshift classroom. No power or water, so a gas generator could be heard as it powered the trailer.

It cost $120 for the ground training and first jump. We didn't have $120, let alone the $240 for both of us. We got lucky. The skydiving school's owner, Richard, had been a good friend with my Uncle Jerry, and to top it off, he also knew Ziggy's Dad Gary. We made a deal. We would pay what we could now and work off rest.

School started the next day at the crack of 10:00 AM. Lisa was the instructor's name. She had over 200 jumps! That was a lot in our eyes. I still find that funny. Now I think of someone with 200 as a newbie. Richard went outside and fired up the generator, and Lisa hit the power and play buttons on the TV and VCR.

After we were done inside, we went outside to practice. The airplane was a Cessna 182 and was parked next to the trailer. We practiced how we were to get in and out of it. Always approach the plane from the tail, never from the front. That's where the spinny thing of death was. Protect your gear from being snagged on something. The first one in, sits on the floor in the back. The last one sits on the floor in the front. Seat-belts were to be threaded threw the harness then clicked in. After the plane climbs to 1000 ft, we were to take our belts off and get ready for an emergency exit. The 1000 feet was to give the parachutes time to deploy. Any lower was a guessing game. The idea was that under 1000, we would stay with the plane and hope for the best. Next came practicing the exit. The jump-master would make sure the static line was hooked up. The static line was a line that was attached to the plane and pulled the parachute open after exit. Once we were at 3500 feet, it would be time for the door to open, and we could look outside to make sure that we were in the right spot. Next came the climb out, and we were to hang on the wing strut. Look back at the jump-master and wait out there until we got the thumbs up. Then we were to let go and arch our backs in a backward heads up position. Count to three, and if the parachute didn't start to open, it would be time to deploy the reserve chute. That one had to be deployed by pulling a red handle on the front of our chest. After the main chute opened, we were to check that it was fully opened and flying. The main was a square-shaped or more like a rectangle flying wing. It could turn left-right, slow down, or speed up. We were to have a one-way radio that Richard was to talk us down with. Once we got close to the ground, we were to slow the chute down for landing. The landing part of the training was the most fiscal. It was called a parachute landing fall or (PLF). There was an old empty wooden wire spool behind the trailer. It was also next to a fire pit. I could tell that the spool also doubled as a picnic table even though it was a little taller than a picnic table. We were to stand on top of it and jump off with our knees and feet together. As or feet hit the ground. We were to roll to one side. The idea was to spread the landing force out from a vertical to more horizontal. After rolling around in the grass for a while, we were all trained up and ready to go. But it was time for a lunch break.

What followed wasn't quite as smooth as the training. The first thing was the weather. The wind had picked up, and Richard was showing some concern. He got out his handheld wind meter and stood in the middle of the landing area. Next was the fact that Ziggy and I were the only ones jumping that day. It would have been nice to see someone do it first. Lisa or Richard could have gone up, but Richard didn't think it made sense to spend money on that. Gary was fine with the way things were going. We had talked it up so much that there was no way we could back out.
After Richard gave the go-ahead, we started putting on the gear. Art, the pilot, was there now and was pre-flighting the plane. He said that it was a little low on fuel, so everything stopped as he fueled.

Lisa started going over our gear and asking us questions to see if we remembered the training. She said that when Art gets back with the plane, we will board it hot. Hot meant that the engine would be running and reminded us to approach it from the rear. She put her gear on just before Art got back.

Ziggy took the first step toward the plane, so he boarded first. I remember thinking, good, at least I will see someone jump before I do. Dummy me, I forgot that the first one in is the last one out. I never did ask Ziggy if he had remembered that.

We did what we were taught, all the way up to 3500 feet. I was in the front by the door. Lisa was in front of me and facing me. She hooked up my static-line and let me check it. Then she opened the door. When that door opened, there was what I call the ahooga factor kicked in. My eyes got big, and the adrenaline kicked in. When I looked a Lisa, she was already looking at me with a big smile on her face. I will never forget that look.
 
LOVE IT. Never followed through on the idea of jumping when I was younger. Too old to want to risk it now.
Also, is it now the case that new jumpers no longer static line jump? That they have to be tethered to an experienced jumper?
 
LOVE IT. Never followed through on the idea of jumping when I was younger. Too old to want to risk it now.
Also, is it now the case that new jumpers no longer static line jump? That they have to be tethered to an experienced jumper?
Hello Bakker1964
To answer your question. It's yes and no. The old static line method works (thank goodness) well. It's still in use in some "remote" small Drop zones. And in the military. There are three main methods of training in common use today. They are called the old static line, AFF, and tandem. It's my understanding that they were invented or introduced in that order. I am rated as an instructor and have thousands of jumps in all three methods. It will take me a while, but I plan to tell my experiences with all three.
 
Late 1980's 1.2

Next came the command, climb out, and hang. Well, this was the first moment of truth. I knew that once I climbed out, there was no going back. I looked over at Ziggy, and he was as big-eyed as I was. I knew I had to go, or I would never forgive myself. So out I went. Then something happened that I had never felt before. As I was hanging from the wing strut, a strange feeling of peace came over me. I knew that it was more dangerous to try and climb back in, so the safest way was to let go. I looked back at Lisa, and she gave me the thumbs up and yield arch! That's when the second moment of truth hit me. As I let go, I arched and started counting. I think I got to three in about a half-second.
I was just about to go for the reserve when I felt the main opening. I looked up, and there it was. It was ugly and somewhat dirty blue and white, but it looked beautiful to me. I checked that it would do the things that it was supposed to do. Its called a controllability check. Things looked fine to me.
Now came the part where I was to get a radio call from Richard. I said from Richard! Any day now, Richard! Still no radio call! Well, let's make sure the radio is on.
The radio was attached in a way that I couldn't see it, but I could feel it. I found out later that Richard had trouble with his radio, but he did have a backup. I had switched channels feeling around on mine. If I had not done that, he could have talked me down. There I was trying to fly a ram-air canopy for the first time. Its a strange feeling looking down and not seeing anything under your feet. I couldn't even find the airport at first. Finely I did and got turned around to head toward it. Remember that wind we talked about earlier? Well, it wasn't helping me at all. I could tell that I wasn't going to make it back to the airport, so I aimed for the middle of a farm field. It turned out to be a cornfield. I came down in that field at about 25 mph. Remember the PLF training? Well, I got to use it.
It was mid-September, so the corn was nice and tall. It wasn't easy getting the parachute all gathered up to walk out of the field. When I did get out, I was kind of lost. Where was the airport again? This was a time before GPS, and I didn't have a map. I did find a road and started walking down it. I saw a car heading down the road towards me. It stopped, and the driver asked me if I need a ride back to the airport. He said that it wasn't the first time he had given a skydiver a ride back. We talked about how he always wanted to jump but how life seemed to get in the way.
 

FarmerTan

George Bailey Fanboy
Hello Bakker1964
To answer your question. It's yes and no. The old static line method works (thank goodness) well. It's still in use in some "remote" small Drop zones. And in the military. There are three main methods of training in common use today. They are called the old static line, AFF, and tandem. It's my understanding that they were invented or introduced in that order. I am rated as an instructor and have thousands of jumps in all three methods. It will take me a while, but I plan to tell my experiences with all three.
Please do so! My auntie ALWAYS reminds me that I wrote a "bucket list" when I was a little kid, probably 50 years ago!

She's under the impression that I did all of it, besides being the President of the United States and jumping out of an air plane, ha.

Since I ain't dead yet (and I have absolutely NO IDEA what I wrote down) maybe I'll finish it.
 
Please do so! My auntie ALWAYS reminds me that I wrote a "bucket list" when I was a little kid, probably 50 years ago!

She's under the impression that I did all of it, besides being the President of the United States and jumping out of an air plane, ha.

Since I ain't dead yet (and I have absolutely NO IDEA what I wrote down) maybe I'll finish it.
Ok, lets get started with you traing video.




 
love that movie fandago. when costner was cool. I had a similar jail experience at age 17 charged with public drunk and obstructing the free flow of traffic. Never been to jail since.
 

FarmerTan

George Bailey Fanboy
love that movie fandago. when costner was cool. I had a similar jail experience at age 17 charged with public drunk and obstructing the free flow of traffic. Never been to jail since.
I waited until I was 21. And a half, lol! One of the BEST things that ever happened to me.
 
Late 1980's 1.3

My new driver friend dropped me back at the trailer. I thanked him as he drove away, and that's when I noticed something odd. I was there all by my self. Even Art was gone. Why would the plane still be gone? There was a big blue tarpaulin lying on the ground. It was the kind that can be had at most hardware stores. It was probably the biggest one that could be found. It was staked on all four corners and along the sides. There were two rigs on it. One was Ziggy's, and the other was Lisa's.
That's when it hit me. They were looking for me. I put my rig down next to theirs. What can I do to let them know that I'm back and OK? This all happened way before cell phones. I herd the plane it was off in the distance. I tried waving my arms like I was some lost survivalist or something. I know what your thinking. How would that help? Well, you're right, it didn't. That's when it hit me. Did Richard take his radio with him? I went into the trailer and looked at where they had kept them. I remembered that during the training, there were about ten of them all in their chargers. Now there were only two left. I grabbed one of them and turned it on. Keyed the mic and said, hey Richard.
That's when I heard someone call back with who's talking. It was kind of hard to hear him do to all the noise in the background. It was Art in the plane. I didn't know it. But they always put one of the student radios in there. He was able to tell the rest of the search party that I was back.
I found out that Ziggy had done a great job, but I was going to need more canopy training.
 
Late 1980's 1.4

I didn’t know it at the time, but Gary had talked Richard into opening on a day that he’s typically closed. That’s why Ziggy and I were the only two jumping that day. I found out later that they were ordinarily open Friday afternoon until sunset on Sunday. First jump courses were held on Saturday and Sunday mornings, starting at the crack of 10:00 AM. We had jumped on a Thursday. Richard said it would be good if we could come back out tomorrow afternoon.
We showed up at noon, and the two rigs that Ziggy and I had jumped were not packed. Lisa was to help us pack them. That’s how I found out what the big blue tarp was for. And boy did I get to know that Big blue tarp. Richard had decided that packing was to be the way we were going to pay back our debt. He decided that two dollars a pack job was the going rate. It took an experienced packer about 15 minutes to do it. Maybe a little less if you went at it. That was during the old flat-pack days. And they were 288 sq foot Mantas.
The more experienced students that jumped that weekend helped us pack their rigs. I never did find out if it was because they wanted to help us or wanted to make sure it was done right. Probably a little bit of both. I remember thinking that there are a lot more people here than what I thought there would be.
What followed marked the beginning of what would be a life long hobby/work relationship. Most of the time it is hard to tell the difference between the two.
 

martym

I Leave The Toilet Seat Up.
Contributor
Every single time that I have been to Ft. Benning I have stood near the jump towers and stared in awe. Then, as I walk away, I thank God that my brother is the crazy one in our family.
 
Late 1980's 1.5
At the end of that first day, the last load dropped right at sunset. I was to learn later that this was one of the best times to jump. There is something special about sunset, and to see it in freefall is hard to beat.
As that last load landed, I noticed something else happening. Someone had started a fire in the pit. Others were setting up tents. A few of them had shown up in there RV.
I overheard someone say that the beer light was lit. It became obvious to me that It wasn’t over yet.
Ziggy and I hadn’t planned to spend the night, but we didn’t want to miss out on the fun. So we stayed and started making new friends.
This is when I found out that Richard had some rules about alcohol and drugs. First of all, nothing was to be consumed before the beer light was lit. Second, no drugs were allowed. If you were caught drinking early, you were grounded for the rest of that day. And you owed a case of beer for all to share. Back then, there were 24 in a case. No one was to drive after they had been drinking. If you were caught doing drugs, you were 86ed.
 
What's the difference between a golfer and a skydiver?


A golfer goes whack "O CRAP" and a skydiver goes "O CRAP" whack!!​
 
I would have to think about it. But I’m pretty sure that I have jump out of airplanes more time than I have hit golf balls.

It’s been a few years now but I was a 25 handicaper.
 
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