Apr 8, 2004, 6:26 AM
Post #1 of 8
The very first Skydivers
I've always wondered how the first skydivers learned the sport ? I mean, there would have been no one to teach them, right ? They must have figured out stuff for themselves (at great cost to life and limb no doubt) Can anyone shed some light on this ?
Generally the “sport” of skydiving began after WW II when returning Airborne GI’s found the tedium of civilian life too much for them to handle.
They realized that while getting shot at sucked, the jumping part was kinda fun, and when the U.S. Government began dumping surplus parachute equipment onto the civilian market in the 50’s, bingo, a spot is born. Here began the idea of jumping for fun (a concept still lost on most people).
At first (late 40’s, early 50’s) these guys would just show up at small crop duster airports and beg for rides. The state of freefall parachuting at the time is tumble, tumble, tumble, dump, spill, spill, spill, crash . . . !
At the time they needed no one to teach them, simply because there wasn’t anything to teach.
Real controlled freefall began with the French and is brought to the U.S. by Jacque Istel in the late 50’s. (What morphed into the “Box Man” is originally called the “French Frog” position). Istel, along with Lew Sanborn, are the first to introduce the idea that you didn’t have to do push-ups for three weeks (military airborne training) in order to make a parachute jump and introduced the 3-hour first jump course for civilians in about 1957. This is called the “Telsan” method.
However, right up until about the mid-60’s, many people, some who are still jumping today, got hold of parachutes and just did it without any training at all. (Ask Lupe Gonzales how he started . . .)
After that, and a bit hard to understand in light of nowaday's training methods, most senior jumpers of today learned on their own. It is called static line training and it was a solo journey through terminal velocity that anyone who did it will never forget. When done with it you felt as if you had truly earned your place in the sky.
I’m sure others will chime in here, but that’s it in a nutshell.
Of course, the very first parachute jumpers are BASE jumpers long before airplanes are invented, but don’t get me started on that . . .
Here’s some links . . .
This seems funny to say without a radio in my hand but, welcome to skydiving!
NickD D-8904 BASE 194
(This post was edited by NickDG on Apr 8, 2004, 1:31 PM)
One of the earlist skydivers I know personally is Smitty the Jumper who started jumping in 1922 with a parachute he built not having seen another.
I brought him to Perris Valley on December 15th, 1985 as a memeber of Perris Valley Skydiving Society's Board of Directors. He brought his original rig with him. He was 87 years old at the time and made a tandem with the Coors Team. You possibly got to meet him.
I posted a tribute to Smitty earlier on this forum. I met him in Hutchinson, Kansas in September 1977 on the day I made my first jump. We became friends then. He made his last jump over 90 years old.
Hi NickD Thank you very much for calling me 'Tonto', what a great compliment! Unfortunately, I'm not the great Tonto, but a mere mortal, quoting a great line from one of the enviable masters of this sport.
My life ambition is to get to do an AFF course with Tonto, whom I admire and adore, dream of and idolise without reservation. In fact, this thread I started, was inspired by Tonto. He might not have been one of the 'first', but he certainly is a living legend in my eyes. Man, I go cold when that icon says hi to me on the DZ.
I know a guy who did exactly this - he bought an old army parahute from the US and he modified it slightly and then hurled himself outta a plane - no formal training just complete heavy duty balls of steel!