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How hard was RW back in the day?

 

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DigitalDave  (A 57258)

Aug 20, 2012, 3:24 PM
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How hard was RW back in the day? Can't Post

I just finished reading some of Bill Newell's articles on the starcrest website. It was very interesting to read about the first RW back in the 50's. They talk about people with lots of jumps making the first 3, 4 and 8-way formations, passing the baton etc .. and how spectacular they were at the time.

As someone who went through AFF a few years ago, I can't relate to how hard it was to do RW back then.

I'm really interested to know if anyone has stories about how difficult it was to learn to fly your body in those days .. before we had instructors holding on with cool hand signals to remind us what we're supposed to be doing.

How hard was it to "just figure it out" without having any manuals, youtubes or general public knowledge to refer to?

Also, was gear a huge factor in RW being learnt? Some of those old belly mounts and enormous rigs with Rube Goldberg-esque looking hardware seem like they'd be damn near impossible to fly in freefall.


airtwardo  (D License)

Aug 20, 2012, 3:49 PM
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Re: [DigitalDave] How hard was RW back in the day? [In reply to] Can't Post

If ya think the gear was hard to fly...(it was)...the jumpsuits were a real challenge at times too! WinkSly

http://www.dropzone.com/...nt;postatt_id=88533;


nndefense  (C 3917)

Aug 20, 2012, 4:19 PM
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Re: [DigitalDave] How hard was RW back in the day? [In reply to] Can't Post

This thread is actually kind of humorous. We didn't know any different with our Rube Goldberg-esque equipment and we did pretty damn good. I could turn a cross series in seven seconds. But we were so archaic with our gear and all, it's a wonder we didn't just fall out the sky like bricks to a certain death. Hahahahaha!


councilman24  (D 8631)

Aug 20, 2012, 4:50 PM
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Re: [DigitalDave] How hard was RW back in the day? [In reply to] Can't Post

I came in at the end of the conventional gear. My student gear was belly mount but my first freefall was on my first rig which was a Crossbow.

If you think about it it's really not that hard to fly your body. Remember in those days 7500' was often the high load in the 182. Ten Grand was a rarity. So, 30 seconds of freefall and in 50 jumps you were hooking up and 100 jumps you were doing okay. It couldn't be too hard, you had only practiced for less than an hour. Not like tennis or bowling where you can practice for four, five, eight hours in one day.Wink

One of the obstacles in the beginning was not knowing it could be done at all.

The wing wars made things harder. The gear didn't help. And it might have been as much the lack of big planes with large doors. Stringing 35 people out of a DC 3 puts the base 2000-3000 feet below the last guy out. Shocked But what we did have was world champions willing to jump with newbies, everybody hanging around the DZ ALL weekend (sleeping in cars and tents) and learning around the campfire, and everybody 'coaching' everybody else without expecting to be paid.

Now when people are done paying for instruction the only people that will jump with them, if anyone, are other newbies. This happened back in the day too but not as much as now. There are lots of folks going out and trying head down because it's something they have to learn on their own and newbies aren't expected to touch each other. But some of these folks with 200-300 jumps can't do a base/pin or launch a three way on their bellies.

These are generalizations and there are still lots of folks that will jump with newbies. But some times the newbies don't hang around long enough to figure out who they are.

Off my soap box.


steve1  (D 23640)

Aug 20, 2012, 8:21 PM
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Re: [DigitalDave] How hard was RW back in the day? [In reply to] Can't Post

The 50's were way before my time. I do remember RW in the mid 70's. The formations we built then were puny by todays standards.

I remember my first three way like it was yesterday. These two guys came flying in out of nowhere and grabbed onto me. That was the first time I'd seen anyone in freefall and it blew my mind. I was hooked. All I could think about was skydiving and jumping again.

I worked all summer to buy a new rig. A new red para-commander and super-pro main container. This was state of the art back then. My hero's were people like Gene Paul Thacker. He was in nearly every parachutist you'd read. Of course there was the great Jerry Bird. He was building world record "Stars" with twenty some people. One of my instructors was B.J. Worth, but that was long before he got famous.

We'd jump twin beeches and DC-3's. Some formations were hard to see if you were out late. You learned to track down quickly or miss out on the fun.

Most anyone could afford to jump back in the day. You didn't have to be rich. The training and gear was easily affordable.

Nobody had automatic openners. Over the years you lost friends who burned in. That was no fun at all.

Being young and tough was an asset. Landing a round on a windy day weeded out the less hardy.

I think there might have been a greater since of comradery and respect then. The old salts helped the new jumpers learn. Most weren't too good to jump or hang out with newbies.

The new gear and skills people have now, would put us all to shame, back then....but to tell you the truth, I think jumping back then, may have been more fun!


(This post was edited by steve1 on Aug 20, 2012, 8:34 PM)


WGore  (D 3379)

Aug 21, 2012, 6:48 AM
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Re: [councilman24] How hard was RW back in the day? [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
I came in at the end of the conventional gear. My student gear was belly mount but my first freefall was on my first rig which was a Crossbow.

If you think about it it's really not that hard to fly your body. Remember in those days 7500' was often the high load in the 182. Ten Grand was a rarity. So, 30 seconds of freefall and in 50 jumps you were hooking up and 100 jumps you were doing okay. It couldn't be too hard, you had only practiced for less than an hour. Not like tennis or bowling where you can practice for four, five, eight hours in one day.Wink

One of the obstacles in the beginning was not knowing it could be done at all.

The wing wars made things harder. The gear didn't help. And it might have been as much the lack of big planes with large doors. Stringing 35 people out of a DC 3 puts the base 2000-3000 feet below the last guy out. Shocked But what we did have was world champions willing to jump with newbies, everybody hanging around the DZ ALL weekend (sleeping in cars and tents) and learning around the campfire, and everybody 'coaching' everybody else without expecting to be paid.

Now when people are done paying for instruction the only people that will jump with them, if anyone, are other newbies. This happened back in the day too but not as much as now. There are lots of folks going out and trying head down because it's something they have to learn on their own and newbies aren't expected to touch each other. But some of these folks with 200-300 jumps can't do a base/pin or launch a three way on their bellies.

These are generalizations and there are still lots of folks that will jump with newbies. But some times the newbies don't hang around long enough to figure out who they are.

Off my soap box.

Well said Terry, I couldn't agree more. Skydiving today is way more expensive than when I started and I wouldn't have been able to afford it. We worked for the DZ for cut rate jumps but now everyone wants mega bucks for doing anything. OTOH there are jumpers that are willing to pay for advice from the "PROS", and in some cases learn just enough to get hurt.

When I started there were 2 guys that jumped together all of the time and could hook up anytime they wanted, pretty impressive back then. They took me and my buddy under their wings and taught us how to do it as well. We in turn did the same with the folks we took under our wings and never took more than a couple free beers for the advice, well maybe a whole bunch of beers.
As far as the belly warts I don't remember it being a hindrance but when we went to piggybacks you just had more speed. The first 3 RW nationals I competed in was with conventional gear and we had 1 - 1st and 2 - 4th place finishes. We then went back and shared the knowledge with anyone that wanted to learn, no charge.


jackwallace  (Student)

Aug 21, 2012, 8:23 AM
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Re: [DigitalDave] How hard was RW back in the day? [In reply to] Can't Post

If you want to know how hard it was, get 4, 5, ten of your friends. Leave the plane without being hooked up and do a round star.


airdvr  (D 10977)

Aug 21, 2012, 10:03 AM
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Re: [jackwallace] How hard was RW back in the day? [In reply to] Can't Post

I was fortunate enough to get off student status along with 4 friends...so we always had our own cessna lift. Alot of talking, making funny body positions, reading, frustration, and speaking a language none of our whuffo friends understood and we all worked our way up to being lousy at RW (which was pretty good back then). That all changed with the Bible of RW, Pat Works' Art of Freefall Relative Work. Pat wrote things in a way that everyone could visualize and understand.

I recall repeatedly trying to launch a 4 way diamond from the cessna. We'd try and screw it up, pack, and go try it again until we got it right.

RW was all anyone wanted to do so it was THE topic of conversation around the bonfire. We learned alot by listening to our elders. Man those were good times.


airtwardo  (D License)

Aug 21, 2012, 10:18 AM
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Re: [airdvr] How hard was RW back in the day? [In reply to] Can't Post

I started out at a small club where most of the jumps were Style & Accuracy...out of my first 100 jumps maybe 5 were 2 & 3 way RW.

I went to another DZ an hour away after hearing about a couple of local boyZ that were tearing it up with relative work ~ that's how I met Carl & Roger Nelson...and learned how to FLY! Cool


bravoniner  (B 8305)

Aug 21, 2012, 1:00 PM
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Re: [DigitalDave] How hard was RW back in the day? [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think it was much harder technically, but most DZs didn't have anybody around who was really qualified to teach or coach RW. So, you just read whatever you could get your hands on, and then went up and tried it -- teaching yourself 30 seconds (sometimes more if you had the $$) at a time. It was also tough to log more than two or three jumps a day at your typical one-plane DZ. It took awhile to make things happen at that rate.


JerryBaumchen  (D 1543)

Aug 21, 2012, 1:54 PM
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Re: [bravoniner] How hard was RW back in the day? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi bravo,

I am 'replying' to you only because you are the last posting.

Quote:
but most DZs didn't have anybody around who was really qualified to teach or coach RW

The 'chief instructor' were I started had 35 jumps at the time. We had only 6 regulars jumpers and you had to work your butt off to get more than one jump a day.

The whole concept of 'qualified' was something we knew nothing about. We just stuck anywhere from 2 - 5 guys in a plane ( if we had one Crazy ) and would take off.

I remember vividly a 4-man load, in 1967, that went to 12,500 ft in a C-180 and nobody, I mean nobody touched anyone in freefall; and we were ( supposedly Tongue ) trying to build a 4-man.

Ah, those were the days.

JerryBaumchen


Niki1  (D 3103)

Aug 21, 2012, 2:00 PM
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Re: [DigitalDave] How hard was RW back in the day? [In reply to] Can't Post

It was hard because we thought it was hard. We thought we were climbing Mt. Everest when we were only walking up Blueberry Hill. When we figured out that we already knew how to do it and started thinking about what to do, things progressed a lot more rapidly.


Guru312  (C 6814)

Aug 21, 2012, 2:06 PM
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Re: [councilman24] How hard was RW back in the day? [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
One of the obstacles in the beginning was not knowing it could be done at all.
Well, yeah, that about sums up my first 100 jumps.

I made my first sport jump in June of 1960. The Army Team, not then known as the Golden Knights, jumped canopies known as 7 gore TUs. HOT, HOT canopy. Or so we were told. I was in the 82nd ABN but sport jumped with the XVIII ABN Corps SPC. We were not permitted to jump anything "hotter" than a 5 gore double L and were required to jump a T-slot or, at best, a double T while students.

We were told the Team was doing a "Baton pass". A baton was a 12-14 inch long cut off broom stick. It seem to me, Steve Snyder and Charlie Hilliard made the first baton pass in '58 or '59.

When I touched anyone in freefall it was pretty by mistake. When I find my log books I'll know how many attempts I made to hookup with someone.

RW? That was a late '60s term. I find it hard to believe anyone was doing RW in the '50s. I'm getting old so it could be my memory

As they say, "Them were the days..."

PS: After reading the above, I'm wondering how far off I am in a time-line. Can anyone older...and with a better memory...confirm first RW? I just googled Snyder's name so at least I'm remembering that part of history somewhat correctly.


WGore  (D 3379)

Aug 21, 2012, 2:47 PM
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Re: [Guru312] How hard was RW back in the day? [In reply to] Can't Post

I started in 64 and we called it grab ass when we started trying to make contact. The other local club did style and accuracy and looked down on us peons.
"RW" was tracking at each other, one guy holding a stick, hopefully not a dead on heading. Sometimes we actually made the transfer without killing someone.
Eventually we converted the other club to our way of thinking and they were a force to be dealt with for several years to come after that, outside of CA. To say that it was a fun time in Skydiving is a gross understatement, and I wouldn't trade that time for anything in the world.


bravoniner  (B 8305)

Aug 21, 2012, 5:28 PM
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Re: [WGore] How hard was RW back in the day? [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
To say that it was a fun time in Skydiving is a gross understatement, and I wouldn't trade that time for anything in the world.

Hey, no kidding! It was all adventure, with nothing pre-packaged or choreographed. Others may have already done the stuff we were trying to do, but it was always the first time for us.

No regrets. Not one.


chuteless  (D 41)

Aug 23, 2012, 7:32 AM
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Re: [DigitalDave] How hard was RW back in the day? [In reply to] Can't Post

We started off with making baton passes, and just doing relative work with other jumpers. We learned how to fly with people who fell faster, or slower, and eventually I realized that if you can pass a baton with confidence, you could pass a parachute.

Seven years after my first jump, I did that, and again 3 years later.

People wondered out loud, " What if you don't connect with the other guy ? "

Once you have learned how to fly and adjust to another person's flying, you had absolutely NO doubts about connecting with anyone...in any sky, anywhere.


SCS292  (No License)

Sep 3, 2012, 11:41 AM
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Re: [DigitalDave] How hard was RW back in the day? [In reply to] Can't Post

There was no internet to share experiences on. No cell phones or email to communicate upcoming boogies. And a long distance call cost as much as a jump. No wind tunnel. No video review after each jump. Maybe someone had a super 8 and if a projector could be found you might get to see it a few weeks later if you happened to be in the right place. There was a grapevine but it had some serious gaps. There is no way you could get 400+ experienced skydivers at a dropzone, much less in the air together. When I got my SCS in 1972 only 291 people in the whole world had gotten in to a star 8th or later (and bothered to send $15 to Bill Newell). I don't know this for sure but my guess is that 20% of the 10 man team members at the Tallequah nationals in '72 didn't have their SCS. The base and pin guys back then tended to be fast fallers which was an advantage for us skinny guys who floated. As a star got bigger it slowed it's descent. I can remember going out 30th from a small door DC-3, getting head down, thinking small and not even peeking for the first 30 seconds to see where the formation was. Some of the guys were getting custom jump suits and smaller backpacks, but a lot of us jumped great big Army surplus rigs. We just learned how to make it work just as skydivers today make the new sleek gear work. I haven't jumped in almost 40 years but from what I read, we may have had more fun doing RW back in the old days.


(This post was edited by SCS292 on Sep 3, 2012, 2:48 PM)


dks13827  (C 9293)

Sep 3, 2012, 12:08 PM
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How hard was RW back in the day? [In reply to] Can't Post

Great posts here, great memories. The camaraderie was unsurpassed, BTW. I dont think the gear was a big negative factor. ( but when you got your new Strato Star, you no longer worried about getting back in ! ha ha. Early 70's the issue was Cessna 182's at 7500 feet, 9500 feet was terrific. OTOH after 100 jumps you could well be a pretty fair 4 way jumper. When we got the chance for some Twin Beech jumps or wow, DC-3 jumps, that was big time stuff. The small doors certainly made the guys in back learn to be great flyers, too !!! Late 70's at least for me, I started to worry about getting into a really OLD Twin Beech on a hot AZ day !! :(


ripcord4  (D 2238)

Sep 4, 2012, 10:37 AM
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Re: [dks13827] How hard was RW back in the day? [In reply to] Can't Post

It wasn't hard because we didn't know it was supposed to be hard. We just tried everything and kept what worked and dumped what didn't.


steve1  (D 23640)

Sep 4, 2012, 10:45 AM
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Re: [SCS292] How hard was RW back in the day? [In reply to] Can't Post

I got my SCR and SCS on the same weekend in about 73 or so. I sent in all the info. to Bill Newell but I forgot to send the money with it. A couple of weeks later I openned the letter saying that I had forgotten to send the cash.....but both my SCS and SCR patch were in that envelope. I don't know if I've ever been prouder of anything. I wore both those patchs for years after, on my jump suit.

I later sent the money to Bill. It was nice of him to send everything without getting the cash first....

Later in life I wrote Bill a letter talking about a big star we built back in the day. He wrote back and said that he always enjoyed talking with old jumpers. Our Sport will miss him. I wish I could have met him in person. He had a big heart.


Phil1111  (D 315)

Sep 4, 2012, 11:27 AM
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Re: [JerryBaumchen] How hard was RW back in the day? [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Hi bravo,

I am 'replying' to you only because you are the last posting.

Quote:
but most DZs didn't have anybody around who was really qualified to teach or coach RW

The 'chief instructor' were I started had 35 jumps at the time. We had only 6 regulars jumpers and you had to work your butt off to get more than one jump a day.

The whole concept of 'qualified' was something we knew nothing about. We just stuck anywhere from 2 - 5 guys in a plane ( if we had one Crazy ) and would take off.

I remember vividly a 4-man load, in 1967, that went to 12,500 ft in a C-180 and nobody, I mean nobody touched anyone in freefall; and we were ( supposedly Tongue ) trying to build a 4-man.

Ah, those were the days.

JerryBaumchen

^^^^^
THIS!

Skydiving in the 1970-80's was much more expensive. Jumps in 1977 were $1/ 1000 plus a $2.5 usually 7500'. so $10. That was 35 years ago which would put the price today at $35.00 A used P.C. was $400-$500 so $1600 today USED.

The biggest drawback was finding out about new techniques was word of mouth. No internet, no Youtube, etc.


jimmytavino  (A 3914)

Sep 4, 2012, 11:42 AM
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Re: [DigitalDave] How hard was RW back in the day? [In reply to] Can't Post

the hardest thing about early RW , that i remember....
was the way that some people docked!!!!!Shocked

thus the term... Kamikaze RW.

not only did we "protect our handles" but we also protected our faces, our heads, and our bodies, from over eager jumpers who were out there looking "to build a Star".
The PAt Works book(s) the Art of Freefall Relative Work, and then, United We Fall
became the bible for the emerging artistry of "freefalling with friends".. Thanks Pat !! Your books still hold a place of Honor on a bookshelf in my home!!
(right next to R. A. Gunbys' Sport Parachuting)
Smile
jmy
a 3914
scr 6190
scs 4876
nscr 1817


steve1  (D 23640)

Sep 4, 2012, 12:20 PM
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Re: [Phil1111] How hard was RW back in the day? [In reply to] Can't Post


^^^^^
THIS!

Skydiving in the 1970-80's was much more expensive. Jumps in 1977 were $1/ 1000 plus a $2.5 usually 7500'. so $10. That was 35 years ago which would put the price today at $35.00 A used P.C. was $400-$500 so $1600 today USED.
.
I guess I disagree with this. In 73 I bought a new para-commander which was state of the art then. The price was very close to $300 for that.

For jumps we paid $3.50 to eight grand, out of a Cessna. Some jumps in other places were cheaper than that.

A jump from a twin beech or DC-3 was about twice the price of a Cessna jump. Around $7.50 in 73.

A first jump course was $50. which included about a full day of training and your first jump.

Even a starving college kid, could afford to jump then. I really think that the cost of jumping is keeping a lot of young people on the ground, in today's world.


StreetScooby

Sep 4, 2012, 12:23 PM
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Re: [airtwardo] How hard was RW back in the day? [In reply to] Can't Post

OMG! CrazySlySly


bravoniner  (B 8305)

Sep 4, 2012, 12:55 PM
Post #25 of 44 (2540 views)
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Re: [steve1] How hard was RW back in the day? [In reply to] Can't Post

My used PC (just the canopy) set me back $135 in 1970. A ticket to 7200' was $3.50, $5.00 to 9600' and a whopping $7.50 to 12.5. But, compare those dollars with 2012 dollars, and I'll bet things aren't a whole lot different today.

B9


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