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Valley Mills, Texas History

 

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JohnMincher  (D 4056)

Mar 5, 2010, 6:43 PM
Post #26 of 47 (2507 views)
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Re: [SHazen] [Stephen Hazen,Valley Mills, Texas History [In reply to] Can't Post

One time when the Beech quit on the way up, Phil Mayfield looked at me and, I believe, Paul Middleton, and said "Let's make a 3 man." I didn't know how high up we were, but we said Ok anyway. We jumped out and I caught Phil pretty fast. As Paul was coming in I could read his altimeter on his chest reserve. It said 900 ft. He was there by 800 where we broke off and dumped. As it turned out, only one fuel tank was empty on the Beech. The pilot's name escapes me, but I went to A&M with him, and I heard he was killed a few years later in a plane crash.
John


AggieDave  (D License)

Mar 5, 2010, 6:51 PM
Post #27 of 47 (2505 views)
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Re: [JohnMincher] [Stephen Hazen,Valley Mills, Texas History [In reply to] Can't Post

Do you know the story about a small memorial plaque near the old Corps dorms on Northside at Texas A&M about someone who died jumping?


JohnMincher  (D 4056)

Mar 5, 2010, 9:59 PM
Post #28 of 47 (2495 views)
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Re: [AggieDave] [Stephen Hazen,Valley Mills, Texas History [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Dave,
I might be able to help you a little about the fatality at A&M. I didn't know the guy, and I don't remember any details. I think it was a no-pull. I didn't know about any plaque. It happened in 66. I went to a club meeting just after it happened, and they said they were going to suspend any student training for a while. So I started jumping in 1967. Skip Heard and Dave Burrows ran the operation with a Cessna 195. They had gotten pretty safety conscious by then. The only one I'm still in contact with from then is Gary Lewis. He'll be at our reunion on April 17th. Maybe you want to come? Send me a personal email if you want.
John Mincher
Aggie Class 1970
SCR 422
john.mincher@yahoo.com


AggieDave  (D License)

Mar 6, 2010, 4:27 AM
Post #29 of 47 (2488 views)
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Re: [JohnMincher] [Stephen Hazen,Valley Mills, Texas History [In reply to] Can't Post

Was your group jumping at Coulter or around the other DZs that have been talked about in this thread? For instance, I'd love to find out when the pea pit was put in at Coulter Airfield in Bryan.


drjump  (D 2785)

Mar 6, 2010, 7:04 AM
Post #30 of 47 (2480 views)
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Re: [SHazen] [Stephen Hazen,Valley Mills, Texas History [In reply to] Can't Post

How about some of those rainy Sat. nights in Angleton? All of the oh's and ah's from your tent made a great show for the rest of us that were trying to sleep. That was some funny smelling mosquito repellent fog!
Hi Steve, those were great times. The young jumpers today do not know what they missed.
Don


lapster  (D 8241)

Mar 8, 2010, 8:24 PM
Post #31 of 47 (2422 views)
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Re: [JohnMincher] Valley Mills, Texas History [In reply to] Can't Post

All these folks plus Al (XL) Covert were folks that in the mid '70's got me motivated to learn to skydive as I was bored with my 85 military S/L jumps, they were heroes to me. Thanks for the memories folks, for all of it and not just the safety meetings but the executive safety meetings as well. Bless Dave Boatman and Twotters in Texas much before most other places...golden times for sure. Not really sure how I lived through it. Kindest Regards Mark "Lap" Dunlap (for short while) Sacramento, CA. Retired and just livin' the dream!!


JohnMincher  (D 4056)

Mar 10, 2010, 9:11 PM
Post #32 of 47 (2381 views)
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Re: [AggieDave] [Stephen Hazen,Valley Mills, Texas History [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Aggie Dave,
I cant tell you when the pea gravel target was put in at Coulter Field. I can tell you that we were jumping at Hearne, Caldwell, and Millican the 4 years I was at A&M from 66 through 70. We had a pretty large target in Hearne. In those days of target accuracy, a DZ didnt rate much if there wasnt a target. I had heard that A&M jumped Coulter before I was there. The club disbanded in 70 because a girl named Darlene went in shortly after a near miss from a fatality by Houston jumper,Gary Hall. He streamered in and lived to tell about it. Here is how that all evolved, and its kind of important to the start of large RW in Texas.
As I said in another post, Skip Heard and Dave Burrows ran the club in 66-68. We had a C195. Everybody in Houston, Dallas, and at A&M were trying for a 5 man star at that time. CG Wallace in Houston had C195 and a couple of guys from there, Tim Hinkle and Don Devenny, came periodically to help us. A DC# owner, I think friends of Skip and Dave and Tim and Don, brought his plane up to Hearne. A large crowd from Houston came. We did a couple of jumps from 16,500 ft. Don lit up the first joint I ever saw on the way up. The airplane owner wanted to make a 60 second delay on his first jump. Skip taught him, and he made a successful jump. It surely caused a big stink among the Texas Parachute Councel, though. He brought it another weekend, and the Houston bunch came again. The weather was lousy, so we all flew down to Mexico and went to Boys Town. Now, that was a party! Anyway, all this had an effect on our wanting to do large stars.
The club passed to our younger generation. Mike Melvin, RIP, and I jumped Gary Lewiss J3 Cub many afternoons for $.50 a jump. It was target accuracy from 1800 ft. We got flying lessons while we cut class, flying over to Somerville Lake to buzz fishermen and run deer and cows and flew along the Brazos River bottom. The turns were scary. We found some good duck hunting places, too. Too bad Garys dad took the airplane away, so we would study more. We made some trips to Valley Mills for meets and got to know those folks well. The old man Lafferty had been running the dropzone and had recently died. Mrs Lafferty was still running it and had the help of her jumping kids, Bobby, Danny, and Merilee. Drinking to the Good Cardinal Puff was popular then. We met Charles Waters, Jack Peck, Clark Thurman, and others. Meanwhile, back at Aggieland Gary Lewis got married to Elaine and decided to buy a Twin Beech. That plane got the name, White Whale. He needed some income, and we all wanted to make stars. We took the club to Caldwell and later to Millican. Caldwell is where Gary and a couple of others packed an unmodified 28 ft for my main. Later in V-mills I got him back. I turned his PC around backwards. It gave him a malfunction. Id have been sorry if he had gotten killed, but he didnt. the guys got 9 lives. Millican is where Gary dynamited trees and graded a runway with a rise in the middle. One time on takeoff, Gary had to shut the Twin Beech down because of a stray cow on the runway. He was so POed that he killed the cow. He found out the hard way that cattle rustling is still a serious offence in Texas! Anyway, thats when Darlene got killed, and that ended Aggie jumping for a few years. Gary moved the plane to Valley Mills, and the rest is history you can read at the first of these Valley Mills Texas History posts.
The only other thing Id like to add is about our first 5 man star. Pat Works has a thread here at dropzone.com about the first 5 man stars being made in Texas. Anita Howe, Phil Mayfield, Pat, and I were trading emails about it. I wrote an email about ours. Heres is how it went.
Hi Anita, Pat, and Phil,
My first 5-way was at Hearne, Texas while I was still at A&M. It was out of Gary Lewis's "new" Twin Beech. Date: 4-19-69. The largest one so far had been a 3-way. There were only 5 jumpers on the plane. The fifth one in was going to do style, but decided to watch us 4 instead. I don't think we really knew what we were doing! But, 3 weeks later we held the first Texas RW meet that I know of. I got to make the rules. The score would count even if the formation was tumbling! We won first place and actually got another 5 man.
John
There are many more stories before I have to start making them up.
John Mincher
SCR 422


drjump  (D 2785)

Apr 20, 2010, 9:28 AM
Post #33 of 47 (2276 views)
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Re: [JohnMincher] [Stephen Hazen,Valley Mills, Texas History [In reply to] Can't Post

John--Thanks for the "old farts fest" last w/e at the 'new' spaceland DZ and the party in Pearland. Not everyone is still actively jumping, but no one has forgotten how to party!


JasonRanson

Jan 14, 2012, 12:27 PM
Post #34 of 47 (2012 views)
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Re: [JohnMincher] Valley Mills, Texas History [In reply to] Can't Post

I am Chris Ransons son. I recently spread his ashes and I really didn't know him very well. Any of you that my have jumped with him in the 70's I would very much like to hear any stories you have that could help me to know who he was and what he was like back then. Thanks.
In reply to:


SCS292  (No License)

Mar 23, 2012, 1:12 PM
Post #35 of 47 (1909 views)
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Re: [SHazen] [Stephen Hazen,Valley Mills, Texas History [In reply to] Can't Post

Howdy Steve, how are things? That was me trying to sleep on the pea gravel when you guys decided to enlarge the pool. And it was 1972 when we spent May, June and July in V-Mills. We left in August for three months in Europe. I wish life could be that easy again.
Rick Johnson


SCS292  (No License)

Mar 26, 2012, 12:37 PM
Post #36 of 47 (1855 views)
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Re: [SlowHDRider] Valley Mills, Texas History [In reply to] Can't Post

The first time I met Pete Bandy he was still in a cast and Steve Hazen was trying to get me into skydiving. I'm not sure introducing you to someone with a broken leg is good salesmanship but I bought Pete's rig anyway. A note in my logbook says I paid $75. I got a 28' 7TU a 24' "hipo" reserve and an Army harness and containers. I also got his red and black jumpsuit with a hole in one leg. I patched it with a piece of white terry cloth and wore it till I quit jumping. I never had the money for one of those fancy bell bottom jobs Phil Mayfield sold (or as my logbook says "dleifyaM lihP" except all the letters are perfectly backwards - license # too). I was too skinny for bell bottoms anyway, I never would have quit floating. Looking as ragtag as I did I guess I understand why I always had to go last on big loads. Odd coincidence, when I upgraded to a PC I bought the PC and a 26' lopo reserve from Chuck Storer who had broken his leg a year or so earlier on a downwind landing. He quit jumping but he still liked to party. I met him in V-Mills and we have been good friends ever since.


(This post was edited by SCS292 on Mar 26, 2012, 12:46 PM)


FWL

Apr 2, 2012, 8:29 AM
Post #37 of 47 (1786 views)
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Re: [JasonRanson] Valley Mills, Texas History [In reply to] Can't Post

Jason,
Your father got me into skydiving. I first met Chris when I was in high school in the late '60s. We were in an astronomy club in Dallas. He mentioned to me that he jumped and I went out to Cedar Hill, Tx to watch one day. I was hooked. He "trained" me and sneaked me out to a DZ in Roanoke, TX, gave me a logbook that indicated I had already jumped before, and there I made my first two jumps. I made my next two in Valley Mills. I have a photo of my first jump and it shows me wearing a helmet with "RANSON" on the front.


SCS292  (No License)

Apr 4, 2012, 4:11 PM
Post #38 of 47 (1743 views)
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Re: [JohnMincher] Valley Mills, Texas History [In reply to] Can't Post

Reading about Jess Hall's machine gun reminded me about some of the other guns he had. Do you remember when he would shoot off that little cannon? Did you ever get to squeeze off a round from his nickel plated 1911? I blew a beer can clear out of the future V-Mills swimming pool with it. Did you ever come into a star and grab onto the .25 auto he had in his jumpsuit sleeve pocket just in case he landed in another farmer's field who wanted to hold him for ransom? Nice times sitting in the Airstream relaxing with some herbal therapy and a bottle of Lancer's too.


SCS292  (No License)

Apr 10, 2012, 12:06 PM
Post #39 of 47 (1681 views)
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Re: [JohnMincher] [Stephen Hazen,Valley Mills, Texas History [In reply to] Can't Post

John, I remember an emergengy jump from Mike Mullens' twin beech at V-Mills. He had the fuel selector on a tank that ran dry and he dead sticked it back to the airport. He came in hot and ground looped at the south end of the runway and put a 2" scratch on one rudder where it knicked the barbed wire fence. He switched to the full tank, cranked it back up and taxied back to the trailer. I had just read a statistic that said most skydiving fatalities were from plane crashes and on the second sputter I headed for the door.


texascrw  (D 18006)

Apr 10, 2012, 9:35 PM
Post #40 of 47 (1663 views)
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Re: [JohnMincher] [Stephen Hazen,Valley Mills, Texas History [In reply to] Can't Post

Love to hear the history. It is great!


SCS292  (No License)

Jun 26, 2012, 6:30 AM
Post #41 of 47 (1537 views)
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Re: [JohnMincher] Valley Mills, Texas History [In reply to] Can't Post

The Summer of '72 in V-Mills, Tx was a magical time for me. I quit my job in Houston in early May and moved into my VW van at the DZ in V-Mills full time. Steve Hazen followed as soon as school was out and we had some others make extended stays as well. Larry Gossler from Z-Hills stayed in his VW camper for a while. Jess Hall brought his Airstream and split his time between there and Houston, Matt Farmer and the Kansas bunch came for at least a week. And of course the population on the weekends swelled with people from all over coming to camp out and jump from the Twin Beech and the DC-3. The Texas 10 man team was practicing every weekend for the '72 Nationals in Tallequah and there were some exciting garbage loads that followed them out. We did lots of great RW with jumpers from Kansas, California, Louisana and all parts of Texas. But when the weekend was over and things got quiet, Gary Lewis couldn't fly so he started dreaming up projects for us lay abouts. There was a spare bedroom in Gary and Elaine's trailer where the engine for the J-3 Cub lived. Gary found an A&P to rebuild the engine in exchange for free rides in a glider Gary bought and brought to the DZ. That worked great till the guy stalled it and nosed in, breaking both legs. The glider then became a gathering spot to indulge in some herbal therapy and swap stories. Gary borrowed Alvin's flatbed painting truck and we went over to McGregor airport to pick up Gary's clip wing J-3 and bring it back to V-Mills. The wingspan of a clip wing J-3 is 28' and Gary didn't want to bother with anything like a permit and escort so we travelled the back way on the dirt roads. The Cub wings were well off the ground and above all the barbed wire fences and we were able to weave around the high gates but occasionally we came to a place where there was a tree in the fence line on both sides of the narrow road. We simply sawed the smaller one off at the top of the fence and kept going. At one point I had to get on top of the cab and cut a huge liveoak branch that overhung the entire road. We hoped Alvin wouldn't notice the dent in the roof that one caused. We made it safely back to V-Mills without any trouble with law enforcement or irate landowners who had their trees cut. I left before Gary got the J-3 back in business but Gary's plans for the hanger we were building had doors wide and tall enough to fly the J-3 through. I wonder if he ever did?


(This post was edited by SCS292 on Jun 26, 2012, 7:57 AM)


skydiveKid79

Oct 25, 2012, 9:04 AM
Post #42 of 47 (1339 views)
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Re: [JohnMincher] Valley Mills, Texas History [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks everyone for the history! My father is Ron Patterson, SCR 373 and watching him jump was one of my fondest childhood memories. I ran across some old pics that i thought someone may enjoy.
Attachments: SkyDive_2_old.jpg (35.7 KB)
  SkyDiveOld.jpg (34.9 KB)


MrSkydiver  (D 3287)

Oct 25, 2012, 10:02 AM
Post #43 of 47 (1335 views)
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Re: [JohnMincher] Valley Mills, Texas History [In reply to] Can't Post

John, here is the picture of the V-Mills Texans from Z-Hills '71
Why didn't someone tell us we were not supposed to win?
Gregg Hackett


(This post was edited by MrSkydiver on Oct 25, 2012, 10:04 AM)
Attachments: V-Mills Texans Z-Hills '71 1st Place (back) small.jpg (83.6 KB)
  V-Mills Texans Z-Hills '71 1st Place small.jpg (179 KB)


JerryBaumchen  (D 1543)

Oct 25, 2012, 3:22 PM
Post #44 of 47 (1320 views)
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Re: [MrSkydiver] Valley Mills, Texas History [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Gregg,

I particularly like that guy on right in the photo, with his StyleMaster reserve protecting the family jewels.

For you not familiar with an original StyleMaster, you will notice that the harness does not have a chest strap.

The reserve container ( when 'properly' located Tongue ) is what held you in the harness.

JerryBaumchen


Krip  (Student)

Oct 25, 2012, 11:45 PM
Post #45 of 47 (1305 views)
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Re: [JerryBaumchen] Valley Mills, Texas History [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Hi Gregg,

I particularly like that guy on right in the photo, with his StyleMaster reserve protecting the family jewels.

For you not familiar with an original StyleMaster, you will notice that the harness does not have a chest strap.

The reserve container ( when 'properly' located Tongue ) is what held you in the harness.

JerryBaumchen

Hi Jerry

I thought the guy in the pic was the inventor of the low rider pants style for the boys in the hood. A man way ahead of his timeSly

LaughLaugh When the home boys try and run from the Po po and their pants are falling down around their ankles.Crazy

R.


SCS292  (No License)

Jan 27, 2013, 6:07 AM
Post #46 of 47 (991 views)
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Re: [JohnMincher] Valley Mills, Texas History [In reply to] Can't Post

Do you remember the pilot in training Gary had flying the C-180? Paul Stall. I always thought that was a great name for a pilot. He was working on his commercial license so if you were on a load he was flying you just made a donation instead of paying for the jump. Funny how the donation amount equaled the price of a jump. The 180 had an air door on it which was really nice in the winter and I remember the ass chewing Paul got from Gary when it blew open and got ruined in a power dive after the jumpers got out.


SCS292  (No License)

Feb 15, 2014, 7:20 PM
Post #47 of 47 (552 views)
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Re: [JohnMincher] Valley Mills, Texas History [In reply to] Can't Post

Does anybody remember the "Green Bastard"? it was Gary's '49 Ford F3 one ton pickup with high lift springs. We had quite a few adventures in the Green Bastard in 1972. Gary was building a hangar at the airport and he was using used drill stem pipe for the arched trusses (you know most of that shit is radio active). We would go into Waco in the Green Bastard and buy 6 or 8 stems of pipe and run them under the truck, over the front and rear axles, tie them down with some bailing wire and drive back to V-Mills. Drill stem pipe is about 30' long so it stuck out 6 or 8' front and rear. How the hell we made all those trips without getting stopped I don't know but Gary always had me drive, go figure. If we made a sudden stop we had to get out and shove the pipe back under the truck to even it out since the bailing wire wouldn't keep it tight. Gary built an ingenious jig and we would screw the joints together and he would have all the jumpers available get on the pipe, waist high and bend it around the jig to get in the proper shape. For a guy who was one calculus course from getting an engineering degree from Texas A&M he was a genius at figuring out how to get things done. Who remembers being on the far end of the pipe? I think it took at least 4 joints of pipe for each truss. Talk about crack the whip, if you were out there when the pipe sprang back it just ran over you if you couldn't back peddle fast enough and you wound up on your ass in the dirt. After each bend we moved it a few feet into the jig and made another run at it. The crazy thing is, it worked and the hanger had a nice round shape.

After the hanger was taking shape Gary made a deal with Jack Peck for a Coke machine that Gary thought would be a nice addition at the DZ and might bring in a couple bucks. Jack's shop at the airport was getting a new machine and I think he gave Gary the old one. We took the Green Bastard down to Waco Muni and picked it up. Considering the height of the Coke machine in the bed of the jacked up Green Bastard, needless to say, it was a little top heavy. We didn't have much in the way of tie downs and not wanting to go buy anything, we made do with what we had. I was driving again and trying to be really careful but on a right curve before we even got away from the airport boundary, over the side it went, bottle tops spraying all over the road. Gary got out and surveyed the damage and had me just back up an push the damn thing out of the road since it was square in the middle of the other lane. He went back to the truck and got a screw driver and pried the serial number placard off and we headed back to the DZ, leaving the dead Coke machine on the road side. I don't think he even chewed me out for that one. Must have been one of his mellow days or maybe my memory is bad and Gary was driving.


(This post was edited by SCS292 on Feb 15, 2014, 7:51 PM)


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