May 24, 2012, 3:53 PM
Post #1 of 8
Bird Base Blues Bros..& THE CATERPILLAR FROM HELL
In Memory of a GREAT FRIEND & Skydiver..Rich Fennimore better known as FANG. Before this story unfolds you "newbies" should know that because of Fang & a few others like him..you modern non belly-flying wimps are jumping squares. "When you're stupid you gotta be tough". The year is 1982 & our "4 way" team,(see title): Fang, Mark Mark & Joey D and whoever it was that day while trying out for the elusive & never filled 4th slot..(maybe Bruce C), had just finished a blistering multi-point 4 way from maybe 8500' @ Lakewood. After break off and perhaps a bit low @ 2-ish, I noticed Fang & Mark going for a kiss-pass.......whoa, I gotta get some of that, so I do a 180 & grab the wrong guy by the legs...FANG! As he looks over his shoulder he smiles and goes into a head down dive, grabbing my arms by his side. I tighten it up between his knees and we are off to the races. I'm laughing hard as we "FLY" through the air until I look at Fang...he's looking up at me and his eyes are like saucers and his mouth is wide open as he spots my chest altimeter...we are still head down & bookn. My focus shifts and I see the ground and nothing else and not a lot of it, it's BIG and moving erratically and in that instant I know it's too late to pull, I let go of FANG and pull....I close my eyes, cursing myself for this stupidity and I curl up preparing for impact. I can feel the velcro peeling off the container as the pilot chute tugs away.....why is it taking so long.......phhhthhip, as the pin comes out of the loop..... I'm aware of every sound, every vibration of the line stretch and ffwhhuup the canopy opens. I open my eyes and as I grab for my "borrowed" toggles I see two menacing objects, the first is a set of Hi-Tension power lines, I'm headed right at them. The 2nd is a reserve Free-Bag...it's not mine, I pulled my borrowed main, a gruesome thought goes through my mind....my friend.....Fang is dead. I can't dwell on anything because I have to make a hard turn to avoid the lines and get ready to flare for landing. I land softly under the power lines and I'm immediately pressed by the thought of locating Fang's body. I know he can't be too far away, he pulled my reserve, we had switched gear so he could check out a demo rig I had. I figured I had opened under 200' and a short canopy ride of maybe 10 secs. I'm certain he's dead, since no one could survive a malfunction at that altitude & speed. As I start to take off my rig, I hear low, muffled groaning and it's real close. A picture of a mangled & broken body flashes in my mind and as I turn and call out to him, I get a response & a complaint about my "shitty" reserve pack job. I find THE FANG, rolling around holding his foot which he broke on landing. In my demo rig was a REJECT "Safety Flyer" that Fang had given to me.....because he couldn't justify destroying a "perfectly" good drop test chute. The Flyer was so badly out of trim that when he pulled, it opened in a complete stall, Fang was an expert test jumper and only his skills saved him that day. After I had let go of him & pulled, he went for HIS main handle, a throw-out & it wasn't there(I was using his rig), he immediately went for the reserve and pulled. The reserve opened hard, went into the above mentioned stall & rocked forward TWICE before he hit the ground, the toggles still in their overly complicated keepers. I cannot describe to anyone the feeling of joy as I jumped on top of him and "Brother Loved" him to life! What we did not know, is that everyone on the ground knew we were dead, they had watched both of us go below tree level in freefall..... We knew we were lucky, we also knew that except for each other and good pack jobs we'd both be dead. Moral: If you're gonna borrow gear, borrow it from somebody who packs their own rig!... Oh yeah break off a little bit higher too! FANG Fennimore was one of the most talented skydivers, riggers or pilots I've ever known. This sport is not the same without him in it. His short coming, if any, was dealing with the mundane task of life. The last time I saw Fang was @ The Ranch, he had landed his 182 in the dead of night, and later that evening he snuck-up behind me and literally suplex-slammed me onto to the ground. We wrestled briefly before I realized who it was..... I tapped out in one of his crushing "Brother Love Hugs".... I'll never see him again.... and that sucks....bow..bow..bow..bow..Birds Base Blues Bros
May 29, 2012, 8:55 AM
Post #6 of 8
Re: [markmark] Bird Base Blues Bros..& THE CATERPILLAR FROM HELL
[In reply to]
In reply to:
Your supposed to keep the real stupid things we did to yourself. BBBBa's forever
What he said!
The younger jumpers have no idea about some of the stupid shit we did. I don't know if Fang was a Herd member but he probably tutored most of them. I told Joe in a PM how much I enjoyed hanging out with Fang. Soss and Fang were two of the people I always looked for at a Herd Boogie.
May 30, 2012, 7:36 AM
Post #8 of 8
Re: [faller] Bird Base Blues Bros..& THE CATERPILLAR FROM HELL
[In reply to]
I remember hearing this story in the "Lounge" at Lakewood one night in '83. I also seem to recall a story about Fang demonstrating a prowess at snorting raw oysters too! Joey, I still have the first square I owned and bought from you. It's a Delta Cloud custom made from 1.1 material that Max Meinsopust had specially made to do CRW with. It's as big as a tandem and it's in a Warp III container that you also sold me. It's been a while since I jumped it!