The Old Timers of Kansas and Missouri Skydiving
A background into the history of the sport, at least in Kansas and Missouri.
I was online reading some of the history comments posted in 2008 and saw mention of DZ's in Kansas as well as mention of Jim Garrison. I have a few additions to the posts I read from 2008.
I knew Jim through my dad and I was at the nationals as a spectator. During the nationals Jim burned in with a streamer landing on the blacktop runway and broke his leg, as history shows, it didn’t kill him and he jumped again either the same day or the next day with a broken leg in a cast. When I asked him how he managed to live through that he said with a smile “I did the shit out of a PLF” but that incident made him pretty much legend, at least around here. Jim was D 94 and one of the earliest sport parachutists in America as the number shows. As I said, I met him at the nationals at the old Olathe airport around 1962. I started jumping shortly after the nationals in March of 1963.
Besides a skydiver Jim was a Deputy Sheriff at that time, I knew him through my dad who also worked at the same Sheriff’s Office, Johnson County Kansas. A couple of friends and I decided it would be neat to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, so we met up with Garrison and others at a private strip near 183rd & Mission Rd in Johnson County Kansas. The club at that was called KA MO. The address at that time would have been Stillwell, now Overland Park or Leawood Ks. I made 8 jumps but lost my nerve when a friend burned in at Hutchinson in 1963. My buddies made one or two jumps and all quit.
Fast forward a few years, around 1968/69 and I am now a Sheriff’s Deputy on Patrol near Desoto Kansas, I see three parachutes pop open a few miles away. I follow them and find the airport which was just off of Edgerton Road West of Desoto and North of K 10 highway. Walla! Jim Garrison now has a DZ on a 1000 ft + or - dirt strip on a farm. I offered to fly jumpers as I was working on my commercial pilots license and Jim accepted so I became one of his pilots at that time his only pilot other than him. That DZ was pretty neat as when you went out you were free falling over or just South of the Kaw River which gave the DZ some character other than farms and Desoto.
I don’t remember any aircraft other than the 180 Cessna that I flew and I flew for a couple of years hauling jumpers and pulling the glider. The glider went south or rather down after about a year when a kid stationed at Whiteman did what jet pilots do when they get in trouble. For you non pilots they pull the stick back, if that doesn’t work they eject. He did, it stalled and went straight in from about 100 feet or less, demolished the glider, broke both of his legs and ended his career as a military pilot, bad luck but he lived. I started jumping again as I got to jump free being the pilot but I only logged 50 jumps without incident except for a couple of tree landings. It goes without saying that parachutes at that time were not the quality as they are now.
When I got my commercial license I quit as I was burned out. I spent ALL of my free time at the airport so I quit jumping and continued working on my pilots licenses.
There were some really good people in those two clubs and some not so good, I have stories. I was an outsider since I was a Sheriff’s Deputy and the 60's clubbing by LEO’s in Chicago caused many of the younger generation folks to hate cops, they tolerated me because they needed a pilot and they had a connection with the SO through me, they called me frequently even after I left. I lost touch with Garrison after that because the DZ was shut down for non payment of rent, if I remember right. Jim was a hell of a pilot and PC instructor. Jim didn’t quit after the Desoto DZ was gone but I don’t recall exactly where he went from there unless he was associated with another DZ located at the Independence Mo airport, seems like he may have gone there but he may also was at Wellsville Ks. for a while. I was there a few years later but he wasn’t around. Jim would be around 81 now if he is still kicking and as feisty as he was he probably is. Last I knew he was living in the KCMO area.
What David said. Jim was killed in a motorcycle accident about 1994 I think. I started diver driving at Harrisonville, MO (Horizon Skydiving) and made my first jump at Independence (Greater Kansas City Skydiving Club) in 1995. Jim I believe died a year earlier.
Assuming it is the same Jim Garrison he did continue on to jump at the Independence Airport. He also had a C-172 that he kept at Roosterville Airport. Unfortunately, Jim was killed on his motorcycle back around 1995 or so (other persons fault). Jim was a great guy and always a pleasure to be around.
In the summer of 1963, I was working a summer job for Base Civil Engineering (cutting weeds) at Richards Gebaur Air Force Base. On July 4, I drove over to Mission Road Airport in Kansas and jumped a Cessna 175 and a Cessna 172 (according to my log book). I went back a couple of more weekends in July. Larry Upp, or LA Upp C413 signed my log book. We were jumping rounds back then, and needless to say, it was hot.
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- The Old Timers of Kansas and Missouri Skydiving - by Ed Hayes (Posted: 2013-10-28)