Forums: Skydiving: Skydiving History & Trivia:
Suits: Thunderbolt, Balloon, etc.

 

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flyingferret  (D 27715)

Nov 4, 2004, 1:00 PM
Post #1 of 31 (2782 views)
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Suits: Thunderbolt, Balloon, etc. Can't Post

Being a young 'un, I don't really know the differences between the old suits, balloon, thunderbolt, RW, etc.
However, I would love to have one, would be great for style value and free(k)flying too.

Anyone know the differences? And if they still exist anywhere?


councilman24  (D 8631)

Nov 4, 2004, 1:40 PM
Post #2 of 31 (2760 views)
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Re: [flyingferret] Suits: Thunderbolt, Balloon, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post

The old balloon suit was ram air inflated. It had mesh on the forearms and legs and literally inflated to a pretty hard "michelin man" look. I tried to dock on one and couldn't grip the forearm, my hand bounced off like trying to palm a basket ball. I had to grip the binding tape at the end of the arm with two fingers.Cool These were built with the arms like a tube, end caps with a wrist cuff in the middle. So were actually constructed to be about a foot in diameter when inflated.

The Silly Suit, Brand X, RW suit etc were ALOT like todays freefly suits (including being two piece), except for the arms were built with LOTS of wing. Think line from waist to wrist. These were part of the arm and double surface, not single surface like camera suits. I think some of the freefly suits are just old rw suit patters without the grippers. My first custom Flite Suit from 1983 is even more like a freefly suit, again except for medium wings.

There was a suit, hmm I think a Shobi suit, that had paddles sewn into the shin and fore arm area. The idea with the arms was that you could turn the paddles horizontal to fall slower and vertical to fall faster. With the legs you either stuck them out or bent your knees. A friend had a squrrill suit. I don't exactly remember the configuration but the legstraps went inside (designed for ripcords) and the wing went from the wrist to the ankle like a flying squrrill.

I still have every jumpsuit I've ever owned. A Brand X, black with red, white and blue outseam stripes on the arms and legs with white leather stars at the end of each limb; a Flite Suit with big puffy arms and legs that looks a lot like a freefly suit. (Can't fit into either one anymore) A big grey noname big wing suit, my normal Tony suit that's getting a little old. I recently got two suits with a rig, another Tony suit and a Pit Special. Both fit but right now I fall to damn fast in any of them. Thinking of getting a baggy freefly suit for RW.Wink


Premier wmw999  (D 6296)

Nov 4, 2004, 1:42 PM
Post #3 of 31 (2759 views)
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Re: [flyingferret] Suits: Thunderbolt, Balloon, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post

batwings from 1960's. I've only seen pictures.
Krueger Balloon Suit. This was made of heavy coated nylon, and it had mesh vents in the arms and legs to inflate. And man it could inflate!

Many of the others were really just different brands of jumpsuit; all big. Tightly-woven canvas (try to blow through it to make sure it'll fall slow enough). Arms basically going straight from baggy wrists to the waist; baggy legs with closed in bottoms (Darkwing's skydiving history has a good picture of an RW suit from the 70's).

Some of the baggier freefly suits would have fit right in during the very early and very late wing wars days.

During the heyday, there was no such thing as "too much wing." RW suits were put out by the RW shop, which was in NH. Silly Suits were made by Mike Cerasoli in Florida; dunno about Thunderbolts. But the difference between RW and Silly was really which do you like better (kind of like the difference between Bev and Merlin now). Some differences, but not huge.

At least that's my memory -- of course, since I was in the 70's, I guess that means I don't remember them. Or something like that.

Wendy W.


flyingferret  (D 27715)

Nov 4, 2004, 2:06 PM
Post #4 of 31 (2753 views)
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Re: [wmw999] Suits: Thunderbolt, Balloon, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post

So, surely somewhere there is a pile of these things just begging for a retro jump. For sometime I have been throwing around the idea of a hybrid or freefly jump using Fuller's PC gear. This would add to it, plus I think they would look plain badass in the air.

Imagine a still shot of guys in bag RWs with capewells and belly warts hanging stinger off some 4 way. That would sum up so much into one pic.


Premier wmw999  (D 6296)

Nov 4, 2004, 2:20 PM
Post #5 of 31 (2750 views)
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Re: [flyingferret] Suits: Thunderbolt, Balloon, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post

Most of the really baggy suits came after pretty much everyone had gone to piggybacks. So you'd have to get a first-generation Wonderhog (orange, blue, and yellow with a belly-band) for it to really fit Cool).

And here's an early Flite Suit on Ebay, I think. At least it sure looks early (they go back to about 1982).

Wendy W.


airtwardo  (D License)

Nov 4, 2004, 4:59 PM
Post #6 of 31 (2731 views)
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Re: [wmw999] Suits: Thunderbolt, Balloon, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post

I still have a Brand X "Swing Wing" suit...

Birdman type wings that you could clip in front for Max
resistance, or clip behind for faster rate fall...


There were two sizes for the balloon suit...
The smaller was the "RW" suit and the huge
marshmallow man was the "Formation" suit.

You could collapse the intake vents, deflating
the suit for a faster fall rate...then 'pop' the suit open
to stop on a dime...so to speak.


On the Shoobie Suit...if the paddles were spread wide,
and the heel strap wasn't on right or tight...the legs
could really get some high speed wobble going,
comical as hell to watch...no fun to try to fly!

And they all had slits in the side so you would wear the
rigs' leg straps under the jumpsuit...





I love my Pioneer double zipper style suit...


"Beware the jumper with only one jumpsuit...
he knows how to use it!" Tongue


mark  (D 6108)

Nov 4, 2004, 7:42 PM
Post #7 of 31 (2719 views)
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Re: [flyingferret] Suits: Thunderbolt, Balloon, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post

The next time you visit the Twin Cities, come see me. I'll dig out the extra-large new-condition kelly green Balloon Suit, a rare two-piece model. You might be able to convince me to pack up the 1984 Northern Lite (orange/yellow -- earthtones, dontcha know). The Northern Lite is a little on the small side (26' round reserve, DC-5 main), so maybe the Piglet I have in the attic would be more what you want.

On another note: the Wing Wars started about the same time 3-rings were becoming popular. A few folks were still using Capewells, but most had upgraded at least to R-3s. And the only folks still using belly-warts were S&A enthusiasts, wearing comparitively tight Pioneer double-zippers.

When you get your dive organized, I'd like to be there. I'm not using any retro stuff, though.

Mark


usedtajump  (D 6813)

Nov 5, 2004, 8:28 AM
Post #8 of 31 (2689 views)
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Re: [flyingferret] Suits: Thunderbolt, Balloon, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post

 
The thing I remember most about the Thunderbolt jumpsiut, besides how enormous the wing area was, is how heavy it was. Man, with all the layers of sewn on stripes, the weight of the thing almost equaled the weight of my rig.Laugh


riggerrob  (D 14840)

Nov 6, 2004, 6:58 AM
Post #9 of 31 (2652 views)
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Re: [councilman24] Suits: Thunderbolt, Balloon, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post

There was a suit, hmm I think a Shobi suit, that had paddles sewn into the shin and fore arm area.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

In the early-1980s, Pat Works also marketed a line of suits with plastic paddles in the forearms and lower legs.


wingnut  (D 27688)

Nov 14, 2004, 4:24 AM
Post #10 of 31 (2594 views)
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Re: [flyingferret] Suits: Thunderbolt, Balloon, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
Imagine a still shot of guys in bag RWs with capewells and belly warts hanging stinger off some 4 way. That would sum up so much into one pic.

i have video somewhere ofme sitflying and head down with my mini system one....


wendy, i have a nice ballon suit i picked up a whle ago.... wheni frst saw it with the vents in the arms andlegs was wierd.. but, manit sure does inflate... i go way slow when i wear it............


slug  (B License)

Nov 14, 2004, 2:47 PM
Post #11 of 31 (2582 views)
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Re: [flyingferret] Suits: Thunderbolt, Balloon, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post

The way i remember it Back in the day the big people always went out base. Then some smart big boy got a big jumpsuit so he wouldn't have to go base and had some range of Fall rate.

The little people didn't like that so they got bigger jumpsuits and the big boy was back to doing base. Wing wars were born.

Don't know how this helped in competition maybe more working time?

R.I.P.


popsjumper  (D 999999999)

Nov 24, 2005, 6:58 AM
Post #12 of 31 (2458 views)
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Re: [flyingferret] Suits: Thunderbolt, Balloon, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post

Here's another ballon suit
Palatka, FL.
Photo Credit: Stephen Hall
Attachments: normal_Balloon Suit.jpg (31.4 KB)


shall555  (D 7231)

Nov 27, 2005, 2:42 PM
Post #13 of 31 (2408 views)
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Re: [popsjumper] Suits: Thunderbolt, Balloon, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post

 
Here's a shot of a Silly Suit. Shocked

Plenty of fabric there !

under canopy

shall
Cool


Thunderbow  (A 47220)

Dec 8, 2005, 8:25 PM
Post #14 of 31 (2340 views)
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Re: [flyingferret] Suits: Thunderbolt, Balloon, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post

I had a Thunderbolt. You could get some really nasty pilot chute hesitations with the burble it created. Lower the shoulder to let some clean air get back there.


NickDG  (D 8904)

Dec 9, 2005, 9:34 AM
Post #15 of 31 (2316 views)
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Re: [Thunderbow] Suits: Thunderbolt, Balloon, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post

This is from the year I started jumping, 1975, and jumpsuits were already getting goofy looking. Stars on jumpsuits were big that year and we just swore we were so cool looking . . .

I just realized how much my North American Mini-System looked like a Velcro closed BASE rig.

NickD Smile
BASE 194


(This post was edited by NickDG on Dec 9, 2005, 9:39 AM)
Attachments: Goofy_Jumpsuits.jpg (109 KB)


markd_nscr986  (C 11969)

Dec 9, 2005, 10:19 AM
Post #16 of 31 (2308 views)
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Re: [NickDG] Suits: Thunderbolt, Balloon, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post

Wow........I'm in awe..........Shocked

Your guys were stylin for the day!Wink

Now you've done it.....

I'll report back with some old silly suit pics showing the wing size..........bigger was really betterWink


BlueSBDeath  (D 10160)

Dec 10, 2005, 6:09 AM
Post #17 of 31 (2286 views)
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Re: [flyingferret] Suits: Thunderbolt, Balloon, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post

Here are shots of me in a Dina-sour (bad spelling 4 shure) and something else.

Circa-1978/79

(I still use the same Alt-3, it has been to the shop one time in over 20 years and works like new)

Arvel
Attachments: ArvelHanau (Small).jpg (29.4 KB)
  Dinasor (Large).jpg (53.2 KB)


airtwardo  (D License)

Dec 10, 2005, 6:48 AM
Post #18 of 31 (2279 views)
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Re: [BlueSBDeath] Suits: Thunderbolt, Balloon, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post

 

My Brand "X" Swing~Wing


bozo  (D 10154)

Dec 10, 2005, 7:03 AM
Post #19 of 31 (2277 views)
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Re: [flyingferret] Suits: Thunderbolt, Balloon, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Being a young 'un, I don't really know the differences between the old suits, balloon, thunderbolt, RW, etc.
However, I would love to have one, would be great for style value and free(k)flying too.

Anyone know the differences? And if they still exist anywhere?
-------------------------------------------------------
Lets not forget the Maddog suit. I still have that heavy sucker somewhere. I'm a big guy and it was impressed upon me early I needed one of these.
Those of you that have worked construction and worn the Carharrt overalls know how stiff that duck material stays. You can wash it 500 times and its still stiff. Man....the good old days.
I still have a yellow vented balloon suit also...probably in the same kitbag.

bozo


airtwardo  (D License)

Dec 10, 2005, 7:07 AM
Post #20 of 31 (2276 views)
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Re: [bozo] Suits: Thunderbolt, Balloon, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post

Better check 'em out Jim!Angelic


I pulled out my old RW Balloon suit and I think the vents had 'acid mesh' syndrome!Shocked


RogerRamjet  (D License)

Dec 10, 2005, 1:27 PM
Post #21 of 31 (2257 views)
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Re: [BlueSBDeath] Suits: Thunderbolt, Balloon, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post

Those look to be along the same design as the Clawson suits. Large legs and arms, and in the case of the Clawson at least, an elastic cord from the hip area to the wrist for increased "brakes."
http://www.dropzone.com/...jpg&img=&tt=


tbrown  (D 6533)

Dec 16, 2005, 2:39 PM
Post #22 of 31 (2172 views)
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Re: [shall555] Suits: Thunderbolt, Balloon, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post

I've still got my Silly Suit and it's in almost perfect condition ! It's a Size Large, with a "Medium" wing, which is still huge by any standard. But since I was 6'3" and only 165 lbs in those days, I decided a medium wing would be sufficient. Unlike a lot of Silly Suits, mine is a single piece. It's made of cotton duck and is quite a bit heavier than the Tony Suit I'm wearing these days.

I tried to put it on lately, but ah, I couldn't seem to get the, uh, zipper past my, uh.....waistline (so now you know).


bozo  (D 10154)

Dec 17, 2005, 3:57 PM
Post #23 of 31 (2145 views)
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Re: [tbrown] Suits: Thunderbolt, Balloon, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
I've still got my Silly Suit and it's in almost perfect condition ! It's a Size Large, with a "Medium" wing, which is still huge by any standard. But since I was 6'3" and only 165 lbs in those days, I decided a medium wing would be sufficient. Unlike a lot of Silly Suits, mine is a single piece. It's made of cotton duck and is quite a bit heavier than the Tony Suit I'm wearing these days.

I tried to put it on lately, but ah, I couldn't seem to get the, uh, zipper past my, uh.....waistline (so now you know).
-----------------------------------------------------------
fatty fatty two by fourrrrrrrrrrrr

uh wait a minute look whos talking :o)

bozo


tbrown  (D 6533)

Dec 17, 2005, 5:29 PM
Post #24 of 31 (2141 views)
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Re: [bozo] Suits: Thunderbolt, Balloon, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post

 
-----------------------------------------------------------
fatty fatty two by fourrrrrrrrrrrr

uh wait a minute look whos talking :o)

bozo
Fuck you Bozo - and Merry Xmas !!


airtwardo  (D License)

Dec 17, 2005, 5:29 PM
Post #25 of 31 (2141 views)
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Re: [bozo] Suits: Thunderbolt, Balloon, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
In reply to:
I've still got my Silly Suit and it's in almost perfect condition ! It's a Size Large, with a "Medium" wing, which is still huge by any standard. But since I was 6'3" and only 165 lbs in those days, I decided a medium wing would be sufficient. Unlike a lot of Silly Suits, mine is a single piece. It's made of cotton duck and is quite a bit heavier than the Tony Suit I'm wearing these days.

I tried to put it on lately, but ah, I couldn't seem to get the, uh, zipper past my, uh.....waistline (so now you know).
-----------------------------------------------------------
fatty fatty two by fourrrrrrrrrrrr

uh wait a minute look whos talking :o)

bozo


Quote:

No Jim...

Actually, it's a little known but well documented fact, that the heavy cotton 'duck' material used in those
older jumpsuits has a tendency to shrink in the mid section of the suits...
while remaining consistent in size vertically / length wise.

I'm told it has something to do with the grain of the cells in the material....
and the overall effect gravity has on them when
the suit is folded up in a gear bag for an
extended period of time.Angelic

This is a documented fact!Sly

I even checked it out for myself...
and sure enough...

ALL the old jumpsuits I have from back in the
80's are 'just a bit' too small...

all in the same general area!Shocked



I guess that's one ONE MORE thing that is
better made with today's materials!!!CoolTongue


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