Blue Skies for ever brother!!! You will be dearly missed by all. It's not gona be the same with out you at chip. I didn't know you as well as some but I enjoyed hanging out with you winters at chip....was also alot of fun going through the aff course with you. I laugh remembering your reaction as I tracked away with our examiners pilot chute in hand. Glad you could share the laugh with me.
My heart goes out to all my friends at Chip, Baldwin, and of course Gang Green. Please know I am thinking about each of you tonight as I light a candle. Todd lived a good life and gave all he had to his passion, remember that along with all the great memories we all share.
who has a great pic of Todd they can post? There are alot of people out there who won't remember him by name, because he was such a quiet presence on the dz. But when it comes down to it, who could forget that smile? Surely somebody has a terrific pic to post? Gonna think about you and miss you for a long time Todd. Blue skies to you.
I don't know what to say. Todd was a great guy. It's rare that you meet someone in this sport with the level of sustained enthusiasm that Todd had for the sport. What a shock your going to be missed my friend. I raise my glass to a great skydiver.
My best memory of Todd's last day was watchting him pack up one of our newer jumpers big slipperies just to do something nice, and asking me who's rig it was and saying it was a bear to pack. Doing a solid for a stranger when that person wasn't watching; that's just plain kind, decent and cool. J
(This post was edited by fff3 on Aug 8, 2008, 10:03 PM)
I can't believe it. Every year at Quicy, then Rantoul, Todd was the constant bigger than life presence in the organizer tents. He was the kind of guy you could see only at a boogies each year, but it was like you knew him your whole life. An easy friend. He was my image of what an athlete in this sport could aspire to, ever since I started out. Rest in peace brother. Blue skies.
(This post was edited by ckoehler on Aug 9, 2008, 2:44 PM)
I met Todd Thursday. So did my son. Todd took my son aside and spent 20-30 minutes discussing turns and other things associated with a D jump. I also watched him coach a couple of A jumpers. Note: he wasn't jumping with these guys (or us); he was just helping and imparting his great knowledge and experience to us newbies. Wow. What a guy.
Todd Jacobson loved skydiving more than anyone I've ever met. He truly was a skygod. Here's a list of some of his many accomplishments as a veteran of 17 years and 5200+ jumps:
1. 4-WAY RW: With team Gang Green, Todd won four gold medals in AAA class of the Northern Plains League (2002-2005), and competed at the 2002 U.S. Nationals (14th place out of 37 teams). In 2006, he jumped with team Wissota Shockers, earning a silver medal in AA class.
2. RATINGS: AFF I, S/L I, senior rigger, S & TA, videographer extrordinaire, private pilot.
3. WFFC LOAD ORGANIZER: He was an organizer at the World Freefall Convention for 10 glorious years. We used to joke that he had enough jumps in Quincy and Rantoul for his 1,000 jump gold wings. The lucky bastard also had 7 or 8 Boeing 727 jet jumps.
4. SPEED STAR: He was on the team that won the 10-way speed star competition every year at WFFC. Others filled their teams with ringers, but the team Todd jumped with was never beaten.
5. NIGHT: Todd had 50+ night jumps, including a CRW 3-stack.
6. NAKED: He had well over 50 naked jumps, including night, winter, and multi plane formations. He loved the shock value. He even organized a few nude 20-way loads at Quincy.
7. BASE: He had about 20 fixed-object jumps, all radio towers except for 2 Bridge Day leaps.
8. DEMOS: He was a perennial favorite on Bob Stumm's "A-team" for demonstration jumps into airshows, football and baseball games, and local schools.
9. HIGH WING LOADING: Todd loved small canopies. He had multiple jumps on a 69-square foot Xaos, and one on Craig's 63-sq Icarus.
10. Y2K: He did his 2,000th jump at midnight on New Year's Eve 2000--in the bitter Wiscosin cold.
The list goes on and on...Birdman, Mr. Bill, big ways, CRW, pond swooping. Todd aka Zipperhead was up for anything aeronautically related, anytime, anywhere. Blue skies, black death. Save me a spot by the fire, my friend. Time for a whiskey.
This is going to be the hardest post by far I have or will ever have to make. 37 hours ago I lost not only the love of my life, but my best friend. I am very lost, very lacking sleep and complete devistated. I'm at Todd's place (the hanger at the dz with the 2 C182 in the "backyard"), which was suppose to be our place sooner than later.
When Todd and I first started dating, he didn't have a phone (cell phone included). We didn't know about AIM or MSN Messenger, and we used to PM via dz.com each other "in real time" while I was at work and he was at home. Being the total sap that I am, I kept most of those PMs, and one day soon I'll have the strength to go back and read them. Being on dz.com is a sort of connection to him right now. He was a huge dz.com fan.
He was a huge skydiving fan. His obsession sometimes made me trying to keep our relationship and skydiving seperate difficult. The funny thing is that he ended up finding someone as into skydiving as him (well, almost as much as him). 75% of our conversations were around skydiving, whether it was about the "you're not going to believe this thread on dz.com", or "you have to see this tandem video I did tonight", or "is there anything I can do for you to your rig?", or "I'm still stoked about that four way we did this weekend".
Shortly after Todd and I got together, we had the all important "What if" conversation, at my bringing up. I knew that he would never, ever give up skydiving, and statisically, I probably wouldn't make past 1,001 jumps and 5 years in the sport. What if I stopped skydiving. By the time we had this conversation, I had become active in our club, helping with students and manifest and Saturday night dinners. I knew even if I stopped skydiving, I would love to continue to be around what had become my extended/skydiving family. He called "Deal!" on that. The second part was what if we didn't work out. We both agreed that we would need to still be friends (he was pretty much my best friend before we got together), and it not only needed to be okay for both of us to be there and not be ackward, but it needed to be okay and not ackward for the rest of our skydiving family.
Todd and I never had a real fight. We always joked about it. I can remember riding in his car with him in a blizzard with his shitty "high performace tires that I just had to have" (high performace for Florida, but zero traction in snow). We (and by we I mean me) were discussing the merits of his tires and his driving technique, and after about the sixth back and forth sentence, he blurted out "Is this our first fight???" Of course we both laughed and that was the end of that conversation. We may have gone over some road bumps along the way, but we never went to bed or said good night angry. If something was bothering either of us, it just brought up and worked out. It was how I always imagined the perfect relationship being.
Todd loved skydiving...period. He loved rigging, he loved flying, he loved videoing, instructing, coaching, competing and he loved showing people (including me) how to get that slippery POS in a bag the size of a roll of toilet paper. Every skydiver in this world has lost "one of the good ones" with Todd's passing. But for as much as he loved skydiving, there were two things he loved more than anything...his daughter and son.
Of course one of the proudest moments of his fatherhood just had to include skydiving. Skylar, Alex and Todd were on the boat on Lake Wissota, a mile or two from our dz. We have one airplane that is very loud, 76X. Todd and the kids were out on the boat one weekend day, and the dz was flying 76X. Skylar looked up to the sky and said, "Dad, if we keep flying 76X the neighbors are going to complain". I'm not sure if he was more proud of the fact that she recognized that it was 76X or the fact that she recognized the fact that 76X is a noisy bitch, but regardless, he was proud.
Todd also had a third "child", Jedei, his dog. In true skydiver fashion, Todd volunteered to take the last puppy of a liter at a WFFC, and in true skydiver fashion, named that dog after his canopy (he was jumping a Jedei 120 or 105 at the time). Most people think that Jedei is actually Jedi, named after Todd's love of Star Wars (more so the books, less so the movies).
Todd liked sci-fi stuff. Whenever we were on the phone and he seemed to have the attention span of a 1st grader, I always asked "Are you watching Battle Star Sea Gate Wars Galatica?" If it wasn't Star Wars, it was Seagate. If it wasn't Seagate, it was Battle Star Galactica, etc. He was a total geek, and not many people knew it. You truly have to love the one you're with when you don't get mad at getting bombarded in the head with missles from a toy Milennium Falcon at 6am on a Saturday.
Todd was also know for his off color t-shirts. One time he showed up at my office with his "I don't need a condom. The AIDS will kill the baby" t-shirt. I immediately made him turn it inside out and did the "Now babe, do you think that is appropriate for a professional working environment?" He was the master of answering a question with a question when he knew the answer but didn't want to admit to it. His response was "Well, I don't know. Do you think its inappropriate?" I didn't realize that Todd was famous for his t-shirts until we went to Skydive Iowa in May of this year for the first NPSL comp and the Jump Start Boogie. Chromy was the coach for that meet and about the second sentence out of Chromy's mouth was "Now Todd, let me see your t-shirt. Is it a good one?".
Todd flanted his strengths, and stressed over his weaknesses. This summer he got his AFF-I rating. He was so proud of that accomplishment, but I think I was prouder (even though we had to get over "our first (Beer!!) weekend apart). We only really offer S/L here at Wissota, and so he started trying to get in "the in" at Baldwin so he could use is rating. Our second to last conversation included a discussion about him trying to do too much with working at Baldwin, doing the rigging and mowing at Wissota, working his full time job, and keeping up with working out 4-5 times a week. I got accepted to the September Big Way camp in Perris and was struggling to come up with money (we had previous discussions about this). Thursday night he told me "After we get your big way camp figured out, I can use the money that I make at Baldwin to go back to Wissota and make more student jumps there." We at Wissota are a non-profit club dz. Instructors pay their own slot and don't get anything but the satisfaction knowing that we're contributing to this great sport, and more experienced jumpers to jump with, and eventually future coaches and instructors (something greater than money could ever buy). Todd never had enough money to do the amount of student jumps at Wissota that he wanted to do. It seemed terribly ironic that he was going to use profits from his AFFI jumps, to be able to jump with more students. If you could ask Todd about this, he'd give his usual response...."That's what I do".
There are a gazillion stories about Todd and what a great person he was. I would give up anything right now to have one last minute with him.
Sorry about any spelling or comprehension errors. I'm on my 47th hour of no sleep, and the ticker isn't going as well as it normally goes.
Todd--"I will always love you, childishly, 'cause you've got something."..BSBD Buppers.
Thank you Lynn that was amazing…you truly were able to show who Todd was to all the people who were not fortunate enough to know him. I was privileged to be one of Todd's students, a friend, and a teammate (wissota shockers). Todd always gave me crap for not posting on DZ.com so here it is for you buddy...it has been so long since I logged in my account was locked! Thanks for all the great times and teaching me so much! You are missed by so many people…we all love you! Blue skies forever!
It portrays is the cheesy grin he always had after landingmost of the time I ever saw him!...
(It's like Todd was embarrassed to have people see that he was having fun.)
This is a major blow to my memories of the great times we had as the Convention Load Organizers at the WFFC.
What I would like you all to do is to look through Todd's posts on dropzone.com. I bet you will find that well over half of them involve messages related to him paying it forward to less experienced jumpers.
That's what he did at the WFFC (and evidently what he did everywhere), and that is how we will remember him!
(This post was edited by peek on Aug 10, 2008, 7:54 PM)
I thought this one was funny. Post: Anything I have to see in Milwaukee? Todd's reply: You can always go find the ACE hardware store where Jeffery Dahmer got all his supplies. East Troy is just outside town to the south west and is a great dropzone.
Those two things should be good for a couple days anyway.
I am so sorry for everyone's loss. L.O pm'd me several times over the last year and was great encouragement. He will truly be missed....I am so sad for everyone's loss - especially those who were close to him.
I remember the first time I met you at Joe's helicopter boogie. I was pressed for time and having trouble getting a slippery canopy into the deployment bag. You jumped right in and packed it so that I could make the last load.
Blue Skies Todd. I remember that 12-way zipper we pulled off the back of the C130 at Quincy. Your organization skills in the dirt dive made the dive easy. It worked out great in the air and was a lot of fun.
My condolences also go out to Todd's friends and family.
Thankz, Lynn for those awsome memories of Todd. That took a lot of courage. We love you here in Superior. Todd came up to Superior after he and Nick got thier AFF ratings. I was privleged to jump with Todd on his first real student AFF jump. I have done at least a thousand AFF's, and let me say he handeled it like a vetran jumpmaster. He was stoked. I didn't tell him how good he did I didn't want it to go to his head, seeing it was his first in all. I did however remind him about the beer..... "He was more than a friend to all those around him”. We're heartbroken that he has died so young, I know there are so many people that have benefited from his life in the skydiving community."
He was a person that listened when you talked to him. A guy that cared about what you had to say. A truly classy person and a real pleasure to be around. My heart goes out to all his skydiving families. It feel’s as if a knife has been stabbed into our own hearts. We will miss you at Skydive Superior!
Our sincerest condolences to the Jacobson family
Blue skyz my friend. My son jack still calls you “Joe Cool”
Thank you Lynn, you helped bring up some happy memories of Todd with your very personal stories and feelings. Thank you Eric for sharing his accomplishments with us and you were lucky to be a part of some of them.
Some of my favorite memories of Todd are having him show up at the DZ with his special contacts that whitened out the iris in his eyes. There always seemed to be a little glow of happy mischief around him the entire day when he knew that strangers were looking at him funny. Other things that Todd did that really made me smile were just the little things: He would look at the pack job he did on my reserve and just gloat. "Look at that pack job" he would say, then he would come up and massage my rig like it was a living thing, and the very act of massaging my rig would seem to give him some strange orgasmic pleasure. I would always be on the verge of a gut busting laughter in those moments. Watching him pack so carefully and take such simple pleasure in how good of a job he did was always fun. He would look over at my pack jobs and just shake his head. Then he'd get up and instruct me "again" with a sigh. Todd was one of the few people I could trust coming within inches of me in the landing area and know that he was truly in control of his canopy. His piloting skills were very strong and it was fun to watch him. The last time I saw Todd was at the Pumpkin Toss last year. I was busy that weekend getting some shots for class and needed some skydiving footage. He took me back to the hangar and handed me some tapes. "keep them for as long as you need them" he told me. I never got a chance to tell him how much they helped, and I don't know if he ever got a chance to see how I used all his footage. And I never got a chance to personally thank him. I did get one thing that weekend that I will treasure, footage of him receiving his award for jump numbers; I don't remember specifically how many jumps the award was for at the moment. I will try to find some time this week to put together all that footage and hopefully share it at Baldwin on Thursday if I can cut away from my busy life for a moment. I did not find out the news until this morning when I checked my email, and I'm now sitting in class unable to pay attention and thinking of a good friend that will be sorely missed. Blue Skies Todd. See you around the campfire. To all that were touched by Todd's life, my heart truly goes out to all of you.
Todd I will miss you. We had some great talks over the years about kids!! You always took time to say hi to my boys and ask me about them. You were a kind, fun, positive person that will be terribly missed. My heart goes out to your family.
Gang Green, and everyone in Wissota Falls: we're thinking of you.
Todd was one of the most relentlessly positive people I know. I first met him on his first trip to the Convention, when he joined my organised dives and lied about his number of jumps. He flew well, I didn't cut him, and he only told me years later.
We had 5 consecutive Convention speed-star titles out of the 727 (last once might have been a high-speed Casa) with Todd last in the lineup. Good times.
His dear children, Lynn, all of Wissota/Gang Green, and Baldwin: what a tragic loss. My heart weeps for all of you.
You are a great family at Wissota. That's how us small DZ's keep going. Family. Family that I know is hurting more than words could ever describe. Todd was Wissota.
Lynn and Todd let us stay with them a few weeks ago for a CRW camp Jim and I came up for. Two of the sweetest people I've ever known. Thanks for letting us stay in your home with the beautiful Cessnas in the garage.
I'm glad Todd got in on some CRW recently, since he was very good at it. He treated us as family, was a wealth of information, and always kept everyone laughing.
Yeah, we lost a "good one". This season has sucked & this one hits hard, and so close to home and our hearts, it's overwhelming. My sincere condolences to his children & Lynnie.
Aw, Lynn, I wish I could hold you and make it all better, I really, really do. I'm so sorry sweetie. The world has once again been robbed and seems emptier.
He was a good soul. We miss you, and will never, ever forget you. Thanks Todd for being you, and someone I wish more people were like. You had the attitude that I aspire to have for this sport, and have given so much to it, thank you.
You've not only won alot in this sport, but you've won over everyone that's ever met you...and we are better people for that. This isn't fair, it never is. Hug the people around you a little longer... a lot longer.
I can't get my shots I have of him to upload on here right now. I'm pretty scrambled in the head, so I'll try again later.
Love and Blue Skies Always, April & Jim
(This post was edited by Madison on Aug 11, 2008, 2:57 PM)
I thought I'd share some more memories and stories of Todd. There's been quite a bit of story telling in the last couple of days and its been rather theraputic for me, so here goes...
Todd did all the mowing at our dz (well, most of it anyway). I could always tell that he had been mowing during the week when I would show up on Friday afternoon and he would be sunburned from his shorts line to the top of his knees. One weekend clouds were low and Todd decided to finish up what he didn't get done during the week. I see him go over to his locker and pull out his jumpsuit and Factory Diver. The next thing I know Todd is riding around on the tracker with his jumpsuit and Factory Diver on so he wouldn't get anymore sunburned that he already was. Any normal person would have just grabbed sunscreen. But Todd was far (very far) from normal.
This last New Year's eve I came down with the flu (and no, it wasn't the bottle flu). We were in the middle of a Road Show (bar hopping on the Gang Green bus) when I started to really get sick. While everyone was in the bar having a good time, Todd sat with me on the bus the entire rest of the Road Show. I instisted that he go in, join the others and have a good time, that there was no sense in both of us to have a crappy night. He wouldn't leave and told me that there was no other place that he'd have rather been at that moment. The stroke of midnight came and after a short discussion on who's watch was the right time, he leaned over to kiss me. I reminded him that I had been puking my guts out the last hour and a half and he replied, "I don't care. Kiss me. It's New Years.
We had a newer jumper that had a pilot chute in tow on his first jump on his new-to-him rig. Ryan lost his freebag/pilot chute, his reserve handle and maybe his cutaway handle too (I can't remember). Todd ordered in new parts and it came to a couple of hundred dollars. Todd and I talked about it the week everything came in and Todd was flored that this jumper, who just spent all this money on his first rig was having to dish out a crap load of money after one jump. Todd told me that he wasn't going to be able to live with himself if he added the cost of a reserve pack job on top of that. So Todd packed it for free.
Todd worked out 4-5 days a week, and it was a good thing because his eating habits were horrible. Every Monday morning he'd go down to the clubhouse and check to see how many frozen pizzas were left from the week that he was going to get to eat during the week. He loved pizza and often talked about how there was no bad time to eat pizza. Everytime we went out to eat someplace, he's always order his meal and then ask the server to bring him a piece of apple pie, right away, before his meal. He'd often stop at the corner grocery store and buy an apple pie off the day old rack and eat the whole thing and never cut a piece. He is the only person that I have ever known that takes his pizza out of the oven and puts it in the freezer to cool down, and takes his freezy pops out of the freezer and puts them in the microwave to warm them up. I went to secure his car at Baldwin on Friday night, and there in the back seat was a partially eaten 16" apple pie and a used plastic fork. I guarentee that he sat with that apple pie on his lap and ate it as he drove to Baldwin that morning. At some point this weekend someone opened the microwave to use it and inside were about 8 freezy pops that he had forgot about.
Thanks Lynn. Keep writing if it's helping you to get through this, please.
Todd was eating a whole apple pie sitting next to me on the couch during the CRW class, so your stories make me smile. I remember the two of you swapping sparklie eyed glances and smiles at each other during the class. It was refreshing. With a mouthful of apple pie he leaned over and asked me if Jim was an IT guy, because he seemed really smart compared to most CRW dawgs. That made me laugh. Last I saw him he was wearing his FEED TODD shirt. Very appropriate He made me laugh every time I talked to him. And stories about Todd still make me laugh. Keep 'em coming friends, because I don't understand coping with this, but hearing good things about him helps. Blues, April
skymama (D 26699)
Aug 12, 2008, 2:02 PM
Post #52 of 132
I haven't been able to come up with words to describe how I feel but let me say this: Todd was one of the greatest people I've ever known, anywhere. He was always around to help out and had a wealth of knowledge about skydiving and flying that he was always ready to share.
I remember how when the whole crew would be out at the bars, many times me and Todd would be on the edges of the group just sharing flying stories because I was taking it easy since I was flying the next day and Todd was taking it easy so he wouldn't pass out early.
I'll always remember how he went to great lengths to help out students/newer jumpers especially with packing and gear advice. When I got a new canopy for my rig he must have bagged it a dozen times or more and was happy to do it, never asking for anything in return. He's done so much free rigging for me (and tons of other jumpers) that I can't even remember all of it. Any little thing that I would mention, he'd always take a look at it and fix it (usually right away) even if it was just a cosmetic thing. I'd try to pay him and he'd say, "No that's ok, It's just what I do."
For me, one thing that really stuck out was the day that I first started flying at Wissota (I had been jumping there for a bit over a year) and after we had put the plane away, he walked up with a couple beverages and handed me one. He looked at me and said, "Good job, buddy."
There's so much more to Todd than that. I feel extremely lucky to have known him for the two years that I did. He always inspired me to do better in everything, not just skydiving.
Thank you Lynn for more great stories... Todd on the lawn mower is his factory diver.. HA! My favorite story is the demo into the View in the dead of winter, and he's wearing shorts. He lands and does the polar bear plunge, and then we forgot to bring him his clothes. The video debuts today... We will miss you brother! Beasts and Jager bombs all around! Karl and Merriah
When I starting jumping Todd had not yet returned to jumping from his previous incident. I will never forget the first time I met him after I road my MX bike to the DZ(motorcycles were another passion of his). I went and asked Marty who the goofy Todd was that was rambling on and on to me outside. At first I did not know what to think of him. In the end he became a great friend.
He got me off wrong track and into serious flying a canopy the right way.(even if I broke a lot of rules doing it). You see, there were/are a few guys, including the DZO that do a snap toggle hook landing. I was impressed from the first time I saw it. I bought a rig a month into jumping with a pd190 and got everyone's attention when I started working my way lower with 180 degree snap toggle hooks. It was fun but certainly not appropriate. After learning that night about f111 vs zp and toggle vs riser, I borrowed a saber 150 for quite a few jumps until I had enough jumps to get a stiletto 107. Every one was freaked and did the right thing by trying to get me to slow down. Todd who was not even jumping took a different approach. He taught me how to swoop! He knew I was passionate and I was going to anyway, so he wanted me to do it right. Now I still pushed it and Todd shook his head sometimes, but while he was unable to jump he was skydiving vicariously through others and he truly enjoyed watching efforts pay off in other people. He never lost that.
I lost a great bunch of videos when my camera was stolen, but there is one that I would have loved to post. It was winter and Todd and I were the only ones at the dz other than my girlfriend and the pilot. We came in tight to the clubhouse and landed in the peas. Todd was first with pov video. His shadow was awesome going over the roof. As soon as he stuck the peas he whipped around to film me taking the identical approach and line in. I landed exactly were he was standing in the peas with my mug inches from the camera while he fought to keep his balance as he leaned back to get out of my way. The best part of the video though is the audio capturing the excitement in the way Todd so often expressed it! It was pure Todd. He lived it. Was he excited about his landing? Most certainly. Was he excited about mine? Absolutely. But I think another part of it for him was that he just filmed me doing his approach… his turn…his line…ect... And he taught every single bit of it to me. He loved to teach. And we came into each others life at the perfect time. He needed a project like me and was passionate about it. I needed him to get me through the curve and since he was not jumping he would never miss a landing or a chance to debrief.
He was a great skydiver and I learned much more that just canopy flying from him.
Thank you Todd. I love you! You were a great friend.
Many of us in the South will be raising our glasses and remembering the good times we had with Todd. He had extended WFFC family at West Tennessee Skydiving in Memphis, and here at Gold Coast Skydivers in Mississippi.
Please keep us updated on plans for his ash dive or any future plans or tributes.
It takes away the hurt a little bit, knowing that skydivers will be destroying brain cells in Todd's name from coast to coast this weekend...New York, Los Angeles, Mississippi, Tennessee, and his home turf of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota.
Here's one of the stories I'll be telling...The demo in Phillips, when Todd and I planned to entertain the whuffos with a downplane. Instead, we had a canopy wrap, my first and only, and at low altitude, but Todd was calm in the saddle and talked me through a clean separation. The crowd was totally in awe. One of the old-timer pilots approached Todd and said, "That was quite a stunt. You had some of those guys fooled into thinking something was wrong." Todd threw his trademark smirk and said, "I planned that. Wasn't it awesome?"
(This post was edited by primetime on Aug 14, 2008, 6:07 PM)
Todd's memorial day at Skydive Twin Cities was indeed amazing! The drop zone was positively packed with fellow jumpers who loved him, as well as many of Todd and Lynn's family. We started jumping around noon and continued until sunset, and many great jumps were had by all. My favorite was a chick way with Lynn, Jamie, Monique, Erika, and Mary. After getting ourselves some extra altitude, we launched a six way zipper, which didn't work out perfectly, but we got it together quick. We went to a round, with a missing slot for Todd, because he would want to be on a jump with all these boobs. Lynn and Jamie made sure to rub their nipples for good measure. Them Lynn and Mo flew together and we added some pods and spun the 3 ways like crazy, close and fast. I'll never forget seeing Lynn's hand on Mo's face shield as we slammed them back together - Ha! We made it through the dive twice (nipple rubs both times) and back to the top before tracking off giggling inside our helmets. Todd would love that one.... Lynn brought out many photos of Todd, as well as his first logbook, and I learned something new... Todd did freestyle!! There are entries on several jumps, including details about doing T’s and flipping them… who knew?? There was also a D-bag made out to be a card box (very cool) and I made a short memorial video showing his fantastic 4 way skills, his usual antics, and the trademark cheesy grin. Of course we made sure to HIM him a couple times. Today my heart hurts… I miss Todd, I love Lynn… But, to honor them both, I will continue to train and coach students for free as much as I can, since I know they are both very much about paying it forward. For all of you reading this, if you want to honor Todd, take a newbie up on your own dime... he would love that! M xx
The "Boobie Dive" was definitely a great tribute to Todd yesterday. He would have been honored to be on a jump with 6 sets.
Todd - You were the first person to PM me on dz.com encouraging me to jump in the winter, and more importantly to jump at Wissota. I will miss your quirky humor, your wacky stories, and your overall "awesom-ness." I will never forget the "awesome" 4 way we did at Pumpkin Toss right after our "awesome" tossing of the said pumpkins. Who came closest to the car in the field? Oh yeah, we did!
Thanks for all you did for Skydive Wissota and this sport. Your presence will always be with that little club. I'll miss jumping with you this winter out there!
BSBD my friend. Dinger
(This post was edited by MTGirl on Aug 15, 2008, 2:54 PM)
It sounds like Todd's logbooks were a hit at Baldwin. They are hilarious. I used to read them on rainy weekends at the dz. He would always write how awesome and fast he was.
Everyone's logbook was fair game. If you forgot yours at the dz, Todd usually enhanced it with an entry or two. Here's an entry I found in my logbook from 1999: "Todd is so good. Best ever. Wow! I wish I could be like him."
Everyone's logbook was fair game. If you forgot yours at the dz, Todd usually enhanced it with an entry or two. Here's an entry I found in my logbook from 1999: "Todd is so good. Best ever. Wow! I wish I could be like him."
Funny thing is that there were one or two similar entries in Todd's log book that appeared to not have been in his handwriting!!! Care to confess, Gag????
As my dog, Lucy, adjusts to living full time with her new brother, Jedei, There are several Todd-Jedei stories that have run through my mind. Keep in mind that I already admitted that Todd was far from normal.
Jedei definitely has a mind of his own. 99% of the time Jedei will do what his is told, but that's only because it's what Jedei wants to do. The other 1%, there is nothing you can do to get him to cooperate. The fact that 99% of the time he "does what he's told", made him the perfect dog.
Todd often left Jedei outside when he'd go run errands, to the gym or what not because Jedei would not come when he was called, but Jedei would always be there to greet Todd as he drove down the driveway.
Back in June, Bob, Jamie, Todd and I were getting ready to go to Baldwin for the 2nd NPSL meet. Jedei wouldn't go inside, and it was getting late, so Todd decided to leave him outside. As we drove away, and Jedei watched from just enough distance, Todd rolled down his window, stuck his hand out, decided to declare his human dominance and yelled, "Yeah, look it you fucking dog!!! Its called a disposible thumb!!!"
Jedei is definitely a beagle dog...a hunter. And sometimes he gets into things he shouldn't. This late winter/early spring, Jedei found something "good" and decided to roll in it. He stunk!!! I threathened Todd that if he didn't clean Jedei a little bit, that Jedei was going to have to sleep outside because he wasn't going to sleep in the hanger with us smelling like that. He finally mumbled "Ok", and called Jedei into the clubhouse bathroom and closed the door. Ten minutes later they both emerged. Todd went into the clubhouse shower, stripped down, took a shower with Jedei and washed him with whatever soap was available, which happen to be Ax Body Wash. Jedei has been forever known as "An Ax Man" just like the commercials. And Jedei has never smelled better, nor his coat softer, than that night.
I owe beer for today. It was the first time that for a split second I forgot that Todd was gone. I had a thought that my first instict was to call Todd and tell him about it. I got 1/2 way through the thought and remembered. I hate normal life. I hate knowing that there are no more memories created. No more new stories.
Here is a picture of Todd from a few years ago at the WFFC, on a rare load that we were both on as organizers. It was taken by Monte Kay I think. I think someone took him out right before breakoff, hence the "WTF" look.
(This post was edited by peek on Aug 20, 2008, 11:59 AM)
Two years ago today, I finally gave into Todd's spell and we shared our first kiss. One year ago today, Todd was feeding me breakfast in bed and handing me a bouquet of flowers, with the price tag still on them.
Todd knew how I felt about flowers...waste of money! On Valentine's Day when ever the flower delivery people would show up at work, all the women in the office were eager to find out who they were for. Meanwhile, I was sitting there saying outloud, "Those better not be for me!! I'll hurt him if they are. He knows better than that!" He knew that if he spent a bunch of money on flowers, something that will eventually wilt and be thrown away, over buying me a few jumps he would be "in big trouble". Todd bought me flowers four times while we were together. Every time he was sure to leave the price tag on them to make sure that I knew he didn't spent anymore than $3-7 on them (less than a hnp). And he never paid over inflated prices during periods like Valentine's Day. They were always during random times where it was truely a surprise. But by doing this, he was able to surprise me on our last anniversary.
Todd always claimed to have struggled to write in the cards he got me, but after going back and reading them the last month, he knew exactly what to say. Or if he didn't know exactly what to say, he somehow managed to say the perfect things, even if the "present" that came with it wasn't.
On Valentine's Day 2007, he handed me a card and two half eaten bags of candy. He said he ate some to make sure it was okay. He also knew that I am not a big candy fan. So after having a piece of each of it, I handed the bags back to him. Todd forced the innocent, confused look he would often get and said, "Huh? Wha? You don't want it?" Watching him devour the candy was far more enjoyable than eating it myself.
Happy Anniversary, Todd. I love you and I miss you!
Todd's Ash Dive is schedule to take place during Skydive Wissota's Annual Pumpkin Toss Weekend: Oct 24-26th. Todd loved P-Toss weekend so it just seemed right to do it then. We're planning late morning/early afternoon on Saturday, the 25th for the jump, but will work it in anytime after if weather is an issue.
todd was and still is an inspiration to me. i remember when i took my static line class and he came swooping in. del told me not to move. he landed 10 feet away from me. i was totally awestruck. i told him that was awesome and he said "its what i do." i worked with todd at sfr. before i ever skydived when i talked to him at work all he talked about was how great of a skydiver he was. i remember seeing his leftover pies and forks laying all over the plant. it sucks that the breakroom is so clean now. its still hard for me not to see him there every morning. i miss him so much. he made me feel welcome at the dropzone from day one. on my 19th jump i had a 2 out situation and i cut away my main canopy. when i realized that this reserve was most likely packed by todd. it brought a smile to face. when i landed lynn said "todd saved another life." the following sunday i went to the dropzone to jump and mary gave me his seal from that reserve that i flew. i had to go outside and sit down for a moment. i shed a tear everytime i look at that seal.
(This post was edited by madman224 on Oct 5, 2008, 7:08 AM)
Here's a pic of Todd finishing his pack job with a big grin on his face.
Also attaching a pic that Razz snapped of our CRW Memorial dive for Todd. 4stack, planed-up drinking to him on a sunset jump. Razz, me, Jay, and Hairy Bob all gave the appropriate Todd, Todd, Fuck, Todd!
Thank you, April!! That is great picture of Todd. You'll have to burn some pictures on a disc from that weekend and send it to me. You were going crazy with your camera and I'm sure there are a boat load of good ones of the Wissota CReW!
Todd was so excited about the CRW camp weekend. He was so excited for me to start dabbling in CRW. It pains me to say that other than one "attempted" CRW jump, Todd and I never built the awesome two stack into a downplane that we always talked about.
Our one attempted CRW jump pretty much consisted of him yelling "Sashay! Sashay! Sashay!" at me for 10,000' while I tried to keep his old Fury flying straight. Apparently the some of the lines that were finger trapped together were out of trim. The rule about Todd's Fury was only Todd could jump Todd's Fury. Imagine my surprise as I walked out to the plane on that jump and asked him, "What am I jumping?" and his response was, "My Fury".
The old Fury got jumped about 500 times more than it should have. After Mary rode a stack almost to the ground and not aiming Todd directly into the peas when she released him, Todd decided it was time to retire the Fury. It had absolutely no flare left in it and it was either peas or knees. About three weeks before Todd passed away, we had a proper bonfire ceremony and burned it. I'm glad he got to do and was there for that.
Todd often said that if he won the lottery he'd get breast implants because he loved boobs so much, and then he'd have a set of his own and could touch them anytime he wanted.
I just got a return email from the organ and tissue donation people. They were able to harvest some of Todd's skin. The email goes on to say that with technolocial advances, human skin donations are not the prefered therapy for burn victims. Instead, skin is now used for breast reconstruction following mastectomies.
Todd's going to get his boobs after!!
Who knew someone could laugh and cry so hard at the same time as I am right now.
Us girls at the dz were going to make shirts that said "Todd thinks my boobs look nice today"...a comment that many of us heard quite often. Maybe the shirt should now read "Todd's boobs look like today".
It's official; Todd has done his last skydive. It was #5390.
After dealing with a nice cloud layer at 1400' for the majority of Saturday morning, the afternoon brought beautiful blue skies. The ash dive, from the launch, to the release, to the round and right hand donut, went absolutely perfect.
Thanks to all those in attendence, and special thanks to Mikey P. for making the release bag, and Kerry for coming over from Baldwin to do camera.
Attached is "the money shot".
Blue Skies Forever, Todd!
(This post was edited by wildfan75 on Oct 26, 2008, 6:01 PM)
Toad's awesome fiancee Lynn sent me a package last week containing the Todd memorial DVD. A heartfelt thank you goes out to all who were involved in its creation...
The "picture show," edited by Jamie and Sean, was great. Ironically, the last picture in the montage, of Todd swooping his canopy at sunset as it fades to his name and birth/death dates, is really a pic of me flying my Gang Green-colored Vengenace.
The "video show," made by Karl and Merriah Eakins, looks very professional, and has a wide range of footage from both ground and air.
Video of the ash dive, taken by RWS, MB, and Kerry, was also much appreciated. Kudos to MP for constructing the release bag. When I watch footage from the close-up angle in slow-motion, I can see shards of bone leave the bag. I know, I'm sick...Todd of all people would have appreciated it.
The package from Lynn also contained a t-shirt and two "Didja C Me?" patches, to be sewn to jumpsuits in memory of Todd. I'm putting my patch on my ass, since Todd loved to grab male or female buttocks in freefall whenever he wore his helmet cam. I should sew the patch right over my leather cheerio, because for some reason, whenever Todd grabbed ass in FF, his thumb made a bullseye right in the center...
The t-shirt, which has a grim reaper on it, was from Quincy 1999, the day of the Friday the 13th Jet Jumps. I used to give Todd a hard time and tell him the shirt was a lie, because the jet had been weathered out that day. Lynn warned me that the t-shirt was dirty. When I pulled it out of the package, Alicia said it looked pretty clean for a cream-colored shirt. Then I told her that it had originally been pure white...
Thanks Gag. The only thing that would have made that package better was if I could have seen the look on your face when you got it.
I can't believe its been 1/3 of a year already. When I think of how long its been since I got the "I'm sorry.." line from the doctor, it seems like yesterday. And when I think about how long its been since I last talked to Todd or saw him, it seems like ages ago.
Today we got our first measurable snow fall on a work day. Last December when the first one came, it took me 2 hours to drive the 15 miles from work to home. I sat and talked to Todd the entire way home that night. Needless to say, I shed a few tears on the not quite as long commute home tonight as I kept on wanting to grab the phone and just call him.
This weekend I spent about 14 hours going through Todd's old DV tapes to burn off all the video footage of Skyler and Alex on DVD's for Erika. I fast forwarded through most of the skydiving footage (which seemed just wrong), but there was plenty of footage that I stopped, rewinded and watched, including some interesting line twist situations, a few "off landings" (which would you choose, clothes line or chicken fence??), a few naked jumps (including one of Gag and Todd, naked, holding hands and exiting...BRAIN FLOSS!), and tons of ass grabs. I'm only about 1/4 of the way through the DV tapes and I'm sure that I'll find plenty more to laugh about, and I look forward to watching them without fast forwarding some day.
I really enjoyed watching the Sky and Alex footage. I see bits and pieces of Todd in them. From Skyler and her fearless approach at carnival rides and chicken chasing to Alex and his "oh, shiny things!" attitude (I only got through the footage of 2003 when Alex was one and younger). I hope to one day be able to tell them both how proud he was of them, and how he wished to be able to give them the world.
Todd--I'm still kickin'! Miss you tons and I upheld our Thanksgiving tradition! Love you and remember, snow during the week, blues over the weekends!
(This post was edited by wildfan75 on Dec 8, 2008, 7:34 PM)
One of my favorite memories of Todd took place during our only pilgrimage to Nationals. The scene was Chicago, 2002. We were having trouble engineering a dive, so Todd asked Shannon Pilcher for help. Keep in mind that Shannon was Skygod #1 at this point; he had just set a new world record for long-distance swoop, and he was alternate on 4-way team Deland Majik.
So Todd sauntered up to Shannon. The rest of the team watched as Todd nodded his metal-plate-laden head, receiving a quick word of advice. When Todd came back, I said, "Did you talk to him like that?" His rebuttal was, "Yeah, why?"
Apparently, just before confronting Shannon, Todd had been eating barbeque chicken. A lot of it. He had barbeque sauce smeared from ear to ear. He looked like a scary clown. And there were so many chunks of chicken hanging from his chin, his face could literally have fed a family.
I told Todd to go look in a mirror, and when he came back, he had scrubbed his face clean. It was the only time I ever saw him embarrassed.
My other fond memory from Nationals...the tenth and final round of 4-way competition. Todd and I filled the Otter with toxic flatulence to "get an edge on the other teams." Luckily, another team in the airplane, Juggernaut, with our friends Duck and Malibu Jim, tuned us out (and plugged their Factory Diver nose holes) long enough to take first place in our division.
Brian--It was also great to see you at Joe's last weekend. And it was me who was the lucky one.
Funny thing happened at Joe's Heli Boogie...
Tony (Butters) wrote about the last heli boogie where Todd helped him out by packing his slippery so Tony could get another jump in.
And Gary wrote about Todd's "Pay It Forward"ness.
Last weekend at Joe's I helped pack two slippery's. One asked what he owed me. Truth is, I almost turned to him and asked what I owed him. I got to pay it forward in the exact event, the exact same place two years after that Todd did. That was a priceless feeling for me.
Brian--It was also great to see you at Joe's last weekend. And it was me who was the lucky one.
Funny thing happened at Joe's Heli Boogie...
Tony (Butters) wrote about the last heli boogie where Todd helped him out by packing his slippery so Tony could get another jump in.
And Gary wrote about Todd's "Pay It Forward"ness.
Last weekend at Joe's I helped pack two slippery's. One asked what he owed me. Truth is, I almost turned to him and asked what I owed him. I got to pay it forward in the exact event, the exact same place two years after that Todd did. That was a priceless feeling for me.
I wish I would have known Todd. Thank you Lynn and everyone for posting so many great and hilarious stories about him. I can't comprehend the loss, but see how much he left behind in this world and how his purpose was to pay it forward, make people laugh, and treat Lynn like a princess..even when she didn't want him to. I've always been a fan of funny t-shirts and I laughed out loud reading the story about the condom/aids/baby shirt when he showed up at Lynn's office. I've never had such a weird sense of missing someone when I didn't even know them. I guess he can still make impressions on people he didn't even meet, still after he's gone. What an amazing person he must have been.
Todd’s void is felt by all that were fortunate enough to know him, and could never be filled. He touched so many people, and was a mentor to me in many ways. I began flying jumpers at ISPC about four years ago, and started my skydiving career around that time as well. While I was flying, I could expect two things from Todd: a foul smell as he was exiting the airplane, and some critiquing on my flying technique. As he spoke the words “just a little….rudder/throttle/trim/etc.” he would rub his index finger and his thumb together. When he was shooting video for tandems on the way to altitude he would always try to get me to fake an epileptic seizure for the video, which used to be his thing when he was flying. Todd taught me so much about skydiving, flying, and equipment in his free time, but never wanted anything in return. There is much to be said about him, and that is evident by all of the posts by those that knew him. He was such an extraordinary, selfless individual. Contrary to the reports on his last skydive, it was a two way and I was fortunate to be on it with him. We launched a two way head down, followed by more freeflying. I shot video of our jump together, but it turned out poorly because my camera wasn’t set up properly, and it was only my 5th camera jump or so. I have attached two still images I pulled from the video: one is a shot of Todd before we exited the airplane, and the second one is a classic Todd- he has his pilot chute in one hand, and the other hand is busy giving me the finger- just prior to his deployment. A fitting farewell Todd’s spirit will live on in me, as I am sure it will in all that knew him. I miss him greatly, and always will.
When Matt J. posted two pictures from Todd's last jump (see previous post), it was a sobering reminder of the dangers inherent in skydiving. It saddened me to see a photo of my best friend's lovable mug, taken less than two minutes before it was pummeled beyond recognition.
Hopefully, we can all learn from tragedies such as this, especially those of us who feel the need to swoop. For me personally, Todd's death may have saved my life. I have drastically altered how I plan and execute my landings. Don't get me wrong, I still like to go big, but there's a time and a place for everything. Those who live by the sword, die by the sword. There's no need to land at Mach speeds on every single jump--it's not fair to those in the air with you, and it's not fair to those you potentially leave behind.
Let's be careful out there... Blue Skies, Black Coffee
Here's a picture of Todd I came across that was on my cell phone. This was in july after Todd and had just got are aff ratings, the ink was still wet in our log books!!! We all went to the bar to celebrate and it just happened to be dollar burger night. This made Todd quite happy as he orderd a dozen hamburgers for himself. The waiter looked at him and asked him if he was for real, Todd replied lady this will feed me for the rest of the week. To make things better Todd boxed up every ones left over fries to bring home for left overs on top it. The next day I drove back to chip with Todd so we could put my new rig together. For lunch we had cold hamburgers with cold french fries to boot. We would have had ketchup but there was none left in the club house and it was to far to walk to Todd's apartment in the hanger to get any. Todd it was great flying with you during the AFF course...thanks for all the help. Jumper in tow!!!
At one of the first World Freefall Conventions in Quincy, Todd repeatedly bragged about a new tent he had “picked up,” a gigantic Army-surplus model with multiple rooms. He said it had a bedroom, a guest room, probably even a bathroom.
It took Todd half the night to pitch the olive-green tent. When he was finished, we all had to admit that it was an impressive shelter. It even had a screened-in porch, and an awning over the entrance.
A couple of nights later, a big storm rolled through tent city. Everyone’s tent made it through unscathed...except for Todd’s, which had collapsed and flooded. With only one tent pole left standing, it looked like a teepee.
Undaunted, Todd crawled inside his tent, tiptoeing through the flooded areas. With the rest of the crew laughing and pointing, Todd wiggled into a sitting position against the surviving tent pole. You could actually see the outline of his head and shoulders inside of the burlap cocoon.
Then, a light clicked on inside the ruined tent. Todd was reading one of his Star Wars books in there!
Postscript – He slept in that damned teepee the rest of the week.
Still miss ya, buddy...
(This post was edited by primetime on Apr 8, 2009, 5:24 PM)
The first time I went back to the hanger apartment after he died, there was a Star Wars book in the bed, on the right side of the pillows. Right where Todd had left it either that morning or before he went to work the night before. It took me over two months to take that book off the bed, and its gotten as far as to make it onto the floor, page still marked.
One of the few joint purchases that Todd and I had was our "boogie set up". I bought the tent. Todd bought the air matress. Together we had our "Perfect (and cheapest) Accomodations" for any boogie or skydiving trip. I had to talk Todd into buying the $27 air matress, with a full cost anaylsis, and when he still said no, I threatened him of having to find a tent of his own to sleep in...alone. He was a thrifty bastard, and I loved him for it.
8 months...and I still want to pick up the phone and call him!
RANDOM FUNNY MEMORIES OF TODD...AKA TOAD, TODDLEY, ZIPPERHEAD, FORREST, THE LAST LIMEY
*Finding Todd passed out in the back of the roadshow bus in the winter, using a road map for a blanket.
*Todd once got drunk and ate a bucketful of strawberries that Bob had left at the DZ. Then he puked up the whole mess by the front door. The next morning, Todd tried to deny it, despite the massive red stain down the front of his white t-shirt.
*As a joke, I slipped 2 cans of dog food into Todd's grocery cart at Quincy. He paid for them anyways, and ate them for dinner back at the campsite, proud of how much money he was saving.
*Todd borrowed my Xaos, and he broke his wrist swooping Bob on the golf cart. He didn't tell anyone about his injury, because he was manifested for the next tandem video. In the subsequent video, you can hear him whimper in pain as he reaches for the toggles. Todd landed on the cross runway so no one could see his ugly half-flare landing.
*One time Bob was driving down the DZ driveway, and he saw Todd on the roof of the old clubhouse. Todd was stealing the old T.V. antenna from the roof, so he could install it at home. "What the hell are you doing?" Bob yelled up to him. Todd replied, "It's just going to waste up here."
(This post was edited by primetime on May 8, 2009, 8:33 AM)
I saw the new Star Trek film today. During the movie, I kept thinking of Todd. He was a total sci-fi geek, and he would have been all over that sh#t.
I can totally hear Todd laughing about the skydive sequence, where Kirk and Sulu freefall from outer space. He would have made fun of their batwing parachutes (which look like the Precision Batwing canopies that Todd and I used to think were lame). He would also have laughed at the self-packing chutes, and Captain Kirk's horrible canopy control skills.
It was August 10, 2004, one of the middle days of the World Freefall Convention in Rantoul. Low clouds had socked in the airport, and after one or two hop-n-pop loads out of Mullins’ King Air, nobody was jumping. It looked like the beer light was going to come on early. And for some, it already had.
It was also the year of the American debut of the PAC 750 XL, the first airplane specifically designed for skydiving. Todd and I grabbed our rigs and strolled over to the PAC tent. Ray Ferrell said that he couldn’t find enough jumpers to get his plane off the ground.
Todd said: “I have an idea. Offer two hop-n-pops for the price of one jump ticket, and you’ll have people begging to get on your airplane.” Ray and his crew looked skeptical, but Todd persevered. “Trust me,” he said, “If there’s one thing I know, it’s skydivers.”
The PAC tent announced over the PA system that they were offering two-for-one jumps from 3,000 feet, and as Todd predicted, jumpers came running. The PAC 750 (the one with the red-yellow-and-blue paint job) was running nonstop loads up to the cloud deck. I think they flew over fifty hop-n-pop loads, half of them from 2,500 or less. Bob Stumm did ten hop-n-pops; Todd and I ripped off five or so apiece. And the people on the ground were treated to ten reserve rides in a six-hour period (luckily, with no injuries). The PAC 750 was a hit.
The load organizers challenged the Wissota crew to prove their “alleged” accuracy skills. They set a two-foot-diameter hula hoop in front of tent #1, and Todd, Bob, and I stomped the disk--one, two, three. Then we went back up and did it again. This time, the organizers tied a string to the hula hoop, and they tried jerking it away as we landed. However, they misjudged the speeds of our approaches, and all three of us hit the target a second time. Bob even snagged his foot on the hula hoop, dragging it a few feet before stumbling to a stand-up landing. Best of all, on our second accuracy load, Todd swooped in completely naked, in front of five hundred semi-drunk and fully-drunk spectators. People were laughing, cheering, and partying like it was Mardi Gras...all because of Todd.
Todd had taken what had started out as the worst day of the 2004 Convention, and single-handedly turned it into one of the most memorable days in the history of the world’s biggest boogie. He was one cool motherfu*#er.
Coda: The next year, Todd and I were lucky enough to be part of the world’s first formation load using two PAC 750 aircraft. The 20-way took place at East Troy, WI, on October 29, 2005.
I think the 2-for-1 helicopter jumps were later that week. It was a great whirlybird...a big old Sikorsky SK58. Great fun from two grand.
Todd and I and some others did chunk a 4-way from 3,000 that day, but I think we only turned two points. Four points sounds better. You know how skydivers are...ask me again in a couple of years, and I'll swear it was eight points.
I know it's technically the 5th, but happy 1st anniversary of your first AFF-I jump!! You were so happy after that first one, and I was so proud. Skydive Superior is still waiting for your case of beer!!!
Early on in Todd’s career, before he fully converted to skydiving, he had been equally obsessed with flying airplanes and jumping out of them. One day, he asked if I wanted to do a hop-n-pop, and film him flying his favorite airplane, 20-Bravo, also known as “the school bus,” for its lemon-yellow paint job. I said hell no.
Then Todd said that I could use his canopy, AND he’d pay for the jump. I should have been immediately suspicious, but who can turn down a free jump? I said hell yes. Todd took me up to 4,000 ft. It was just the two of us. I put on Todd’s video helmet, bailed out, and deployed right away.
As soon as the canopy was open, I realized what an idiot I was. Todd was the craziest pilot I knew, and I had just made myself a stationary target...a sitting duck. I thought about cutting away and pulling the reserve low to the ground. I also considered burying a toggle and spinning down, but the canopy was Todd’s 220 sq. ft. Fury—big and slow.
I heard the buzz of the Cessna engine grow louder behind me. I winced and prepared for the worst. The first fly-by wasn’t too menacing. He flew by on-level, and waved to me as he passed. Next, he tried some funky maneuvers for the camera: loops, barrel-rolls, even an Immelmann. On each pass, the airplane seemed dangerously close to my frail little body.
Finally, Todd flew towards the runway, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I had somehow come through unscathed. I began thinking about how good the beer was going to taste that night.
Then I heard the Cessna again. Todd was coming back for one last fly-by.
He approached from directly behind me, in my blind spot. I swiveled my head left and right, trying to catch sight of him. The airplane zoomed under my dangling legs and pulled up right in front of me, showing me the tops of the wings. Maybe it hadn’t been that close, but I actually lifted my feet so they wouldn’t hit the propeller.
After that last death-defying pass, Todd raced the plane to the ground. When I touched down in the landing area with shaky knees, Todd was waiting for me. He ran up and patted me on the back, laughing his ass off at my pale, sweaty face. I was too scared to be mad, but I swore I’d never let him trick me like that again...until the next time.
One winter at the DZ, I was bragging about my plans for a new rig. When I mentioned that I was going to have “666” embroidered on one of the mud flaps, Todd’s eyes lit up.
A few weeks later, Todd's new Javelin arrived in the mail. He opened up the package in front of everyone like it was X-mas morning. On the yoke, it said, “The Last Limey.” (long story) And I was shocked to see that he had a neon-green “666” on the mud flap. Todd had stolen my idea! The bastard!
However, this story has a happy ending. It was a couple of years later, at the WFFC in Quincy. We were riding to altitude, and I noticed that there was a priest sitting next to Todd. We were on the same load as a freefall wedding. The groom wore a black rig and a tuxedo jumpsuit. The bride was dressed in white lace, including veil, and her custom white rig had lace sewn onto the container.
The priest was a middle-aged skydiver with a normal black jumpsuit, into which he had inserted his white priest collar. He had a purple silk scarf around his neck, some kind of holy vestment. He firmly clutched a bible in one hand.
I pointed the priest out to Todd, and then reminded him that he had the Number of the Beast on his mud flap. For the first time in my life, I saw Todd become uncomfortable in a social situation. His face reddened. He covered the “666” with his hand.
I upped the ante and introduced myself to the priest. He told me a little bit about the marriage ceremony he was going to perform in freefall. Tom Sanders was shooting the video. I told the priest that my friend Todd had the Devil’s Number stitched onto his rig. Todd stared daggers at me. The priest started laughing, and Todd started breathing again. We soon realized that the "man of the cloth" had a great sense of humor.
Todd put on his full-face helmet, which had a $500 paint job of an evil dragon, with rows of teeth around the face shield. We got some hilarious pictures of Todd and the priest arm-in-arm, looking at each other. The priest is holding up his bible, and he has a mock-frightened look on his face, pretending to be afraid of the heathen scum. You could easily see the “666” on Todd’s rig, and through the tinted visor of his helmet, you could just make out his grinning face and squinty eyes.
A couple of years later, I discovered that it had been a fake wedding. The groom was Harry Parker, noted skydiver and B.A.S.E. jumper. They were creating an advertisement for Sun Path, makers of the Javelin. But it didn’t lessen the enjoyment of the story one bit for Todd and I. I used to have some photos of Todd and the priest...I wish I still had them.
Postscript—Years later, when Todd started working with students, MB (chief instructor) made him go over the “666” with a black magic marker to lessen its visibility.
Hi all, It is great to read your posts about Todd, good memories. He was always an inspiration to me in my flying career, and we shared the same passions of flying and skydiving. I editied a photo of his ash dive, and added three still shots from our last skydive together, and his last skydive ever. I think everyone will like it- I am going to give it to Chip in memory of Todd- because that is where his heart is. I got my medical back yesterday, so I can finally start flying again there, it wont be the same without Todd, but I know he would have been happy for me.
When freeflying was in its infancy, I told Todd that they would build a 100-way head-down formation someday. He said I was crazy, and that I didn't understand the aerodynamics of flight. At the time, the head-down record was an 8-way or 10-way.
Guess what, Toddley? They did it! They built a 108-way in Chicago. It feels good to rub it in, even if you can't defend yourself!
It’s hard to believe that Todd no longer exists, that his body has been immolated and his ashes separated, half buried in an undisclosed location, the other half scattered in freefall. I can still picture his smile, his goofy laugh, and the way he’d scratch his head when he was thinking hard. I remember his infectious enthusiasm for the sport, and the funny sound effects and hand gestures he’d incorporate into his stories.
It seems illogical to be shocked by his death. He lived a very full, but very dangerous life. Todd used to tell a story about a dirtbike accident when he was sixteen years old. He claimed that a tree branch went through part of his head, and he “flat-lined” two or three times in the ambulance (Todd-speak for “heart stopped”). Sometimes before a crazy stunt, he’d bring up the incident, saying, “Hey, I can do this. I’ve already been dead once.” Todd was utterly convinced of his invincibility, despite evidence to the contrary.
I was on the ground when he made his first B.A.S.E. jump, from a 2,000 foot radio tower. He almost died three times on the jump, nearly hitting the same guide-wire in freefall, upon deployment, and during landing. He also had numerous close calls performing hook-turn landings.
In 1998, he had a traumatic landing accident. One of his toggles came untied on his Jedei 105 on final approach. Todd bounced hard enough to snap a femur, crack some vertebrae, and shatter his pelvis. During exploratory surgery, the doctors removed his pancreas and god-only-knows what else. They also drilled holes in his head to relieve the pressure. He was in a coma for two weeks. I was in Todd’s room the first time his mother visited after he awoke. She said to Todd, “That’s it now, right? You’re done skydiving.” I will never forget Todd’s response. He said, “I will get back in the air as soon as possible. I will never quit skydiving until the day I die.”
I went through the rehabilitation process with Todd. I watched him learn how to walk again. When he took his first steps and fell down on his face, I started laughing. The physical therapist looked at me like I was a monster. I told her that if she knew Todd better, she’d understand.
You see, the accident had profoundly altered Todd’s personality. It was such a visible change that us skydivers called it Old Todd and New Todd. Old Todd had been cocky and egotistical, making many enemies in the sport. New Todd had a poor memory, which caused him to brainlock, and he sometimes had difficulty finishing his sentences. But in other ways, New Todd was an improved version. He became more tolerant, more humble, nicer to strangers, and more helpful to students. Most importantly, New Todd was a safer and more conscientious skydiver. About the only holdover from the old version was Todd’s inherent distrust of whuffos (even more than most of us).
And of course, New Todd still liked to swoop canopies. He was addicted to speed. Some people said he had a death-wish; I prefer to think of it as a life-wish. Todd had more metal in his body than most foreign cars. And in the end, it was the high-speed landings that got him.
It seems ironic, viewed in light of his first bounce, that on the jump on which he perished, he once again lost a toggle, this time while trying to perform a rear-riser landing. Todd’s death should be a teaching moment for other high-performance canopy pilots. Rule #1 of swooping: toggle security is paramount. DO NOT DROP A TOGGLE ON LANDING!!
Todd Jacobson died one year ago today. My monthly postings have been cathartic, but also painful to compose. It is time to move on, hopefully with a sense of closure. I will still post a comment or funny story every year on August 8th. Someday, I would like to find a way to give back to the sport that Todd loved so much. Perhaps I could put together a memorial boogie or swoop competition, maybe even a scholarship fund for poor student skydivers. Todd would have liked that.
I send my deepest condolences to Todd’s widow Lynn, a great woman who deserved more time with him. My heart also goes out to his extended family, to his friends, skydiver and whuffo alike, and to his ex-wife and two children, Skyler and Alex. Luckily, Skyler was old enough to have glorious memories of her father. Alex, on the other hand, was not so lucky. Hopefully, when Alex is older, he will have the opportunity to hear some stories and watch videos of his father’s skydiving exploits. Like Todd, I also hope that his children give skydiving a try someday; it’s definitely in their DNA.
Todd was truly one-of-a-kind. He made me the skydiver I am today, and the one I hope to be in the future. He was the best friend I ever had. I will never forget him.
Postscript – In the early 1990s, when Todd and I and the rest of the skydiving world were first learning how to swoop our canopies, Todd and I made a bet. Whoever died first, the survivor was mandated to piss on the grave of the one that “burned in.” This wager became infamous at our home DZ. Based upon Todd and my antics under canopy, others would adjust the odds and debate the outcome. Sometimes I was declared the front runner, but more often than not, it was Todd who was considered the “safe bet.” And now, though the wager is over, the winnings have yet to be collected. For some strange reason, no one will tell me the location of his gravesite.
Wow, hard to believe it's been a year already. The DZ's not the same without you. No one tries to sneak in a down-wind landing while Bob and Mary are up on a load anymore. I loved watching your landings, almost as much as I think you loved having landings that were worth watching. I remember my last jump with you. It was a 3-way with you and Bob. I was relaxing behind the pilot's seat on the climb to altitude listening to you and Bob chat. You said something that echoed my own sentiment perfectly. I don't remember the exact quote, but it was about how you had lived more life and done more things in your 39 years of life than most people would ever do if they lived to be 139. Reading all these wonderful stories about you and knowing what I know of you, I would say you summed it up pretty well. It reminds me of the line from the movie Braveheart, "Every man dies, not every man truly lives." You my friend truly lived! Blue skies brother!
One year, six days ago...in some ways seems like last week and in some ways seems like decades ago. I miss Todd like crazy mad and it seems like there isn't a minute that goes by that I still don't think about him.
I spent tne one year "AT" (After Todd) with the 3rd competition of the NPSL, flying inside center for Gang Green. Gang Green was Todd's team. I thought I'd never fly with Gang Green because it was Todd's team, Wissota's "A" team, but none the less, Todd's team. I wasn't particularily thrilled that a meet was scheduled for "that day". I imagined, and in some ways prefered, that I would spend that day alone with my head burried in a pillow and enough tears to later require me to change at least the pillow case. The meet was a blessing in disguise. Instead, I spent marking one year "AT" among family.
When couples are together, the age old bullshit saying about "what's mine is yours and what's your is mine" gets thrown around. Todd has his family, and I had mine, but truly, the skydivers were OUR family.
I am ever so grateful for what my and Todd's family have done for me, but it was good to be among our family on that day.
I'm not sure what tomorrow brings, but for today, I love all my families, and I love skydiving. And today, don't forget to hug the ones you love, for today isn't soon enough and tomorrow might be too late.
When Todd burned in, I searched the dz.com forums for posts written by him under his profile name "L.O."
At the time, the posts were too painful to read. Now, almost two years after his death, I have finally gotten around to reading all 446 of them. It was a truly amazing experience, sort of like time travel, as if Todd was speaking to me from the grave. He had me laughing, crying, and gnashing my teeth at the cruelty of the universe. Thankfully, due to Todd's offbeat worldview, I was mostly just laughing.
Here are a few classics:
Question: Will you jump Easter Sunday? Todd: It's on the weekend right?
Question: Have you been hurt jumping? Todd: I hit my head kinda hard once. Nothing a month in an induced coma didn't fix.
Question: Death is overrated. Who has been there and back? Todd: No bright lights. No flames and pitchforks. Just dead a little. No bigs.
Question: Is skydiving an extreme sport? Todd: The sport is mind-bendingly extreme. Of course for me, the drive to the end of the street is extreme.
Question: When did you stop being nervous? Todd: I feed on the fear of others. It's fun. If you're not afraid, you'll wreck my day.
Question: What should I do if I experience a side-by-side? Todd: Promise God you will start your CRW training as soon as you land safely.
Question: The doctor said I can't jump anymore. Todd: I don't have a spleen, my leg and wrist are held together with screws and bolts, and I have four plates in my head. So why can't you jump anymore?
Question: I can't believe I went five months without jumping. Todd: I spent sixteen months off because I couldn't walk. My first jump back was intoxicating like a good drug. Never take it for granted that you can skydive. It can be taken away so easily.
Question: After twenty years of jumping, I'm bored. Todd: This is not boring. Sometimes I wish it was. Let us know when you bowl your first perfect game.
Question: What are your thoughts on farting in the airplane? Todd: The only time I hold back is when everyone on the plane has more jumps than me. Viva la fart.
Question: Are you an exhibitionist? Todd: I consider skydivers my brothers and sisters, so they don't count.
Question: I had line twists on my first Mr. Bill. Todd: Good job surviving.
Question: Where do you want to travel the most? Todd: Anyplace with a nice DZ.
Todd: I am drunk, and take no responsibility for this post. It may be the truth, but I know it can never be.
In the early years of Todd's skydiving career, he was also one of the DZ's primary pilots. On weekdays, he often had to fly one of the Cessna jump planes to the mechanic's shop in a nearby town. On such occasions, Todd would invite me along for a free jump and some memorable aerobatic maneuvers.
During one of the transport flights, Todd said to me, "I'm going to break my record for most barrel rolls!" He ripped off about twenty spins, pinning me to the floor of the aircraft. Then he said, "Now I"m going to break my record for most loops!" We did at least five or six loops in total. After we landed, Todd told me that he wasn't supposed to do loops because a Cessna is not rated for negative g-force, and the tail could snap off. Good to know.
Another time, Todd climbed onto the step of a Cessna and shut the door behind him. He was wearing his camera helmet, as usual. Then Todd hung onto the wing strut for dear life while the pilot performed a barrel roll with the airplane. It was stupid and dangerous, but it made for some incredible video footage. He used to play the video at the DZ every weekend, but only after the students and whuffos had left for the evening.
I don't think anyone that met Todd for more than a few minutes could really forget. He always had a story about something that many skydivers would call crazy, but that he had actually done. He sure made the dropzone and anywhere he was at the time more fun for everyone. I always enjoyed his antics. When on a long car ride with Todd and a couple other jumpers; we came up with some interesting ideas on how to solve some of the worlds problems, to put it in non-offensive words. (AFB)
When on a long car ride with Todd and a couple other jumpers; we came up with some interesting ideas on how to solve some of the worlds problems, to put it in non-offensive words. (AFB)
That conversation went about an hour and a half too long, but none the less was a great and relevant conversation. I think Todd made referece to the AFB in his signture line on dz.com.
For just $99 today...
Thanks for bringing up that memory, Paul.
And Erik, that video footage of Todd on the strut during the barrel roll...One of the first videos I every saw when I started jumping (along with the tandem you did with the school principal where you bite his hand). They're both on the computer in the student room, and are watched several times a year.
Most people that I have met or will meet dislike me immediately. I am smarter than most people but I can't do most crossword puzzles or make change in my head. When I go most people will not acknowledge ever meeting me but the operative word is "go". I am going to stick around until I can beat old George Bush at jumping. I don't like most people and they don't like me, even my wife says she can't stand me except on payday. I ave made a couple thousand jumps but neve with a friend.
That's sad hymandd732, I have made jumps with those I love, have made jumps with those I like, and I have jumped with those that can annoy the hell out of me, I have jumped with those I do not know and I have jumped with those that love me and I have jumped with those that do not know me but I have always considered them a friend in the air. Todd- not sure why this was posted on your thread, but bsbd and I did want you to be my rigger but never got around to it. :-)
Three years ago today Todd cutaway from this dimension and tracked off to the great beyond. It's still hard to believe that he’s gone...when I think of the drop zone on Lake Wissota, he's the first person that I think of.
As stated in earlier posts, Todd was a big fan of naked jumps. One day we were doing an 8-way formation load from two Cessnas for Amy Plagge's jump #400. Todd and I were in the chase plane, and Amy was in the base plane.
On the way to altitude, Todd and I talked about how we should have done a naked 8-way. Then, just a few minutes before jump run, we decided to do just that. We both removed our rigs, stripped off our jumpsuits, and then put our rigs back on just as the door was coming open. Talk about last-minute planning. It was awesome seeing the looks on the faces of the four people in the base when Todd and I came swooping in buck naked. Bob, the guy wearing the camera helmet, tried his best to keep Todd and I out of frame and just film the 6-way. It was one of the funniest jumps I've ever been a part of.
Blue skies, Todd. We all miss you. This dimension is less exciting without you.
This appears to be the one day of the year that I find absolutely nothing good about it. No matter how perfect the weather could ever be, it will always be overcast at 600', 40 gusting to 50mph winds, and with rain and sleet. That's right...just plain shitty.
One of my favorite quotes is by a man named Theodor Geisel: "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." Most days I feel incredible lucky to have found "the one" and to have him in my life for the time that I did. Some people go their entire lives never having found "the one".
Maybe time would have proven Todd may not have been my "the one". But ignorance is bliss and if that ignorance makes my face smile and my heart laugh, I'm okay with that. Even though I would rather hate his guts but still be able to see him walk into a room with his chest held high because he's "Fuckin' Todd Jacobson".
Todd - Lots of things have changed since you left. Jedei's a little more grey, and slowing down quite a bit. Your gear is gone and I took over your locker. I haven't had apple pie for quite awhile. The landing area is bigger, we have a new pop machine and the student room just got new windows. But we still laugh at your stories and the things that you did all the same as if you were here. We wish you were here. I wish you were here. I hope I make you proud.
The day 8-8-08 was considered the luckiest day of the century in China. Thousands of superstitious Chinese got married that day because of the luck factor. But for Lynn and I and a few others, it was the worst day ever.
I've got so many great stories starring Todd that it will take the rest of my life to tell them all (or even remember them). As for the stories that are unsuitable for public consumption, I guess I'll have to save them for when we're sitting around the bonfire and tipping back a few beers.
People may not know this about Todd, but he was the best canopy pilot in the Midwest from 1996-2008. I should know, I was #2. I have about 2,000 landings with Todd. The dude could work miracles under canopy.
Todd’s been gone for 4 years now. I still think of the silly bastard whenever I’m at the dz and something crazy or righteously cool happens. I know Todd would be the first one to volunteer for the craziness…with his camera helmet firmly cinched in place.
One of my favorite Todd stories is from Bridge Day 1997. At the time, Todd and I were both financially challenged, so we talked another jumper from the dz into accompanying us to West Virginia even though she wasn’t jumping. Basically, we needed the services of her car.
Todd drove most of the way there, and he had the speedometer pegged in the red zone most of the way. He drove so fast in the mountains that 3 of the 4 hubcaps flew off.
The first time we stopped for gas, I told Todd and the girl that we should take turns paying. I paid for the first fill-up, the girl paid the next time. When it was Todd’s turn to pay, I watched him slowly crack open his suspiciously-thin wallet. He only had 3 one-dollar bills in there! I asked him how he was going to pay for food and beer, not to mention the hotel room. He just shrugged his shoulders.
When I told him to use a credit card, his face lit up like a x-mas tree. He hadn’t thought of that. With a confident stride, he marched inside the gas station to pay for the gas, but he came back out a few minutes later with a hangdog look. “It didn’t work,” he said. “My wife put a hold on the credit card.”
It was common knowledge that Todd was one of the cheapest dudes in human history. He was always begging, scrounging, pilfering, and eating nasty or rotten food because it was cheap. Previous posts have described him eating dog food and purchasing ten burgers on dollar burger night to save a few bucks. However, I could never get mad at him for being cheap, because his reason was that he wanted to spend every penny on skydiving. Hard to argue with that logic.
I ended up paying for his share of the hotel room that weekend…and yes, a few burgers and a few beers. But when I think back to how great a friend he was, and how many times he packed my rig for free (it must be in the hundreds…), it seems like I got the better part of the bargain. Damn, I miss that cheap fucker.
My buddy Todd has been gone for 5 years now, but the lessons he taught me live on...
Todd’s Rules for Being an Awesome Skydiver
1, Be the best that you can be at every aspect of the jumping process from start to finish. This includes exits, freefall skills, canopy control, landings, pack jobs, etc.
2, Be the best that you can be in every discipline of the sport. Formation skydiving, freefly, CRW, wingsuit, canopy piloting, BASE, demo jumps, etc.
3, Always strive to increase your knowledge base. Read every issue of Parachutist from cover to cover. Research online sites and datebases. Be a constant presence on DZ.com. Talk about skydiving with your peers. Ask a lot of questions. Apply the knowledge learned in other areas such as aircraft piloting and aerodynamics.
4, Encourage the jumpers around you to also be the best that they can be.
5, Pay It Forward. This means in-air coaching, ground mentoring, and video debriefing, all gratis and free of charge. It also means unpaid demo jumps into stadiums, schools, and various local events to bring positive attention to our sport and hopefully entice new jumpers.
6, Get involved in the administrative/business side of the DZ. Successfully run for president of the skydiving club, become an S&TA, get your rigger’s ticket, fly the airplanes, assist with aircraft maintenance, take charge of the DZ groundskeeping, etc.
7, Shoot as much video as possible. This makes debriefs more constructive and improves everyone’s skills and learning curve. Plus, you never know when you are going to capture exciting or humorous footage. Also good for later blackmailing purposes.
8, Take pack jobs very seriously. Dispense free pack jobs to friends or acquaintances at the slightest provocation, or if it is a new model of canopy you haven’t seen before, or if a student is having difficulty learning how to pack, or if someone is having trouble with a slippery new canopy, or if someone is trying to pack fast to make a short call, or basically whenever you have extra time. (Todd was the first and possibly only skydiver I ever met who actually enjoyed packing parachutes…once in a while he even charged money.)
9, Have more fun than a human being deserves. Go to boogies and other skydiving events, bring groups of newer jumpers for visits to nearby drop zones, invite skydivers to your house for dinner and drinks, instigate Saturday night bonfires at the DZ, plan stupid skydiver tricks to perform on the ground when the weather is uncooperative, etc.
10, Use the word awesome every chance you get. This rule is especially important when describing yourself, as in “I was awesome!”
Amen! Except, more accurately, "Dija c me?!?! I was awesome!"
It blows my mind that it's been five years. Seems like just yesterday we were screaming for the C182 window because Todd dropped ass in the plane so bad he could taste it, but seems like an eternity since I last heard him laugh or felt his arms around me.
I had the chance to get a few skydives in today at the dz that Todd had his accident. Seemed like a fitting thing to do. As I was driving there, all I could think of was that horrible, horrible drive five years ago. And then I got to the dz and all seemed right again.
Skydiving is an amazing sport. It gives so much, and sometimes it takes away. But after every time it takes away, it'll go back to giving. Thanks to my skydiving family for getting me through the last five years! Have fun, be safe and see ya at the dz!
At one period of time, Todd was the best canopy pilot in the Midwest. He had an uncannily high degree of aptitude for canopy flight. When I started jumping in 1994, Todd had about 50 jumps, and he was doing a lot of flying jump planes back then, so I quickly passed him up in jump numbers. He soon came back with a vengeance and passed me up again, and to this day he has more jumps than me.
Our canopy progressions were similar. We learned how to swoop at the same time as the rest of the skydiving world. Unfortunately, we were all learning by trial and error. It seems ridiculous now, but at the time we would actually debate which was better, toggle or riser turns. It’s amazing that we survived this period of canopy flight. Many of us didn’t.
Downsizing was the name of the game back then, as it is now. I remember when Todd got his brand-new Jedei 105. He was very fond of that canopy, and I was proud to be the only person he would let jump it. Todd was an awesome canopy pilot, and his wealth of experience at flying airplanes gave him a massive edge when it came to understanding the aerodynamics of flight. He also did CRW jumps whenever possible, which further broadened his skillset.
He taught me how to fudge my jump numbers so I could get on the hottest loads at Quincy and borrow the tiniest demo rigs. He was there with me when we jumped the 69 square foot Xaos. Our swoops in the WFFC main landing area were epic. We would swoop every object imaginable: tents, RV’s, golf carts, etc. His landings were always a little crazier than mine. His favorite saying was “Make them run.” At the Convention, he once broke his foot on landing, broke one of Carolina Sky Sports’ wind blades, and got in trouble for swooping a woman sitting on a golf cart who was holding a baby…three different landings on the same day.
At our home dz, we were always swooping obstacles: the trees at the north end of the landing area, the “South Gate” as we called it through the other treeline, and the spectator area which was our favorite because it was deep and tight and hard to get into. We kept trimming the trees to create extra lanes until we got in trouble from the DZO.
Our dz had winter rules for landings, when all regulations were thrown in the crapper and anything goes. Todd and I would swoop snow banks, hangars, and parked cars—hopefully all three on the same run. Sometimes our swoops would get so hairy, we would be grounded for the day, or the week, or in Todd’s case, for an entire year.
Todd and I did many awesome demo jumps together, and we always managed to pull out our best swoops for them. We also did a lot of cross country jumps, the clouds over Lake Wissota gave us ample opportunity for flying around in the industrial haze. It all came together during my last 4 years or so at Wissota. Todd and I became very proficient at swooping side-by-side...we had kind of a mind meld thing going on. He always followed me in, which was the harder job. We made at least a thousand jumps together, usually swooping side-by-side on landing. Towards the end, his favorite landing was when we would swoop at each other from opposite directions.
I am older and wiser now, and sometimes I feel the effects of old landing injuries. My landings are a bit more conservative, though I am still considered a swooper. I always told Todd to pull back his aggressiveness 10% in the interests of survival, but he was not able to bring it down a notch. That was his nature, and that was what made him so damned good at it. As Hunter S. Thompson put it, Todd was “some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”