Bill Cole (chuteless)

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He died Christmas morning, his daughter Crystal was with him. She'd been nursing him the last few months. Definitely a one-of-kind character.

Wendy P.
There is nothing more dangerous than breaking a basic safety rule and getting away with it. It removes fear of the consequences and builds false confidence. (tbrown)

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I read this years ago when Bill posted it. We corresponded briefly about it. Such a beautiful perspective.

When a man hits 80 yrs old, he can only suppose that his time on earth is running out. I do not fear death, and have had a great time. Nevertheless, one cannot help but think that an end to life will hit every one of us. Here then, is a poem for after I've gone.

I am not being morbid, but facing the reality of life and death that will come to us all in time.


I've been around for quite a few years
And its been quite a pleasant show,
I've baked in the summer sun above
And I've frozen in winter's snow,
I've done lots of things
And I've had lots of friends,
And there's one thing you all should know,
Its really been fun, but God's taking me home
So I really just have to go.

I've had lots of jobs and some troublesome wives
And some children that I loved so,
I've jumped from a plane up high in the sky
And I've landed way down below.
I've swam in the waters and fished in them too
And I've hunted the fox and crow,
I've had a great time, till my time came up,
So excuse me, I have to go.

Some may feel sad, and some may be glad
They may think that I've gone below,
Mistaken they are, cause I'm high again,
Far over the sunset's glow.
I'll live in a house God's prepared for me
For billions of years or so,
So please don't feel sad, it isnt so bad
Because its my time to go.

Some things that I did that were fun at the time
Caused mixed messages oft to be sent,
Like bending the rules to play my own game
To skydive wherever I went.
With CSPA biting hard in my heels
They'd exhibit how little they know,
But now they can have some peace and some rest
Cause my time's up, and I have to go.

Just like the last rose of summer we've seen
How its petals soon fall to the ground,
After winter is gone and Spring arrives
You'll find that I'm not around,
I'll be on a journey that never will end
To a place maybe someday you'll know,
Like the rose petals I'll be, a faint memory,
So goodbye friends, I have to go.

Blue skies to you all.
Bill Cole
be safe and look out for eachother

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I think most of us can relate to those sentiments. Death is just another part of life, and all of us will go there.

I've enjoyed Bills POV over the years, and he did things a lot of us wouldn't dream of doing. He'll be missed on here.

Godspeed Bill. RIP.
My computer beat me at chess, It was no match for me at kickboxing....

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Met Bill at Perris, got maybe 2 bad photos somewhere. Helped him get a tire fixed on his Cadillac in town, bought him a glass of milk. And got literature from the Bible stuff he was working on somewhere at home. Also, kept in touch via other emails in the past. Christmas day, huh? Had to post something, always liked him, he seemed to like me too.[email]

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Wow sorry to hear the news. Met him back at the 2004 Richmond THE Boogie. He sold me one of his old conventional rigs. We put in the rotation with all of our other rounds. He was a great guy to talk and hang with. We have lost a great man and friend. BSBD RIP BILL
waving off is to tell people to get out of my landing area

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You could love Bill or you could hate Bill, but you had to respect Bill. I may not have agreed with everything Bill said, but I would fight to defend Bill.
Never met Bill face-to-face, but am mighty glad of Bill's contributions to the early days of skydiving in Canada.
God speed Bill Cole.

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I wonder if someone should apply for CSPA membership in Bill's name… after all, his lifetime suspension must now be lifted!

I went to Bill's service today. There were plenty of family there, plenty of Bill's friends from his church, and just a few skydivers.

The ones I noticed were Brian Bowman (jump buddy of Bill's from way back); Rob Price (Skypuppy here) and his wife; Joe Chow (Skydive Toronto owner), Rachel V., and myself. Some can't make it due to work of course, for example Beatnik who is far out of town.

At least Bill isn't forgotten among old timers and those interested in skydiving history.

Bill did contribute on dropzone.com of course as chuteless, sometimes with tales from the old days, and occasionally with advice from the old days...that I'm not always sure applies these days!

Bill Cole could be a real nice guy but occasionally grumpy and argumentative. But if he hadn't been a little headstrong he wouldn't have been the skydiver he was.

Bill was sore for a while when Beatnik and I set a CSPA night altitude record in 2012, as Bill's record was higher and he had had to prove his altitude with a complex mechanical recording barograph. His was indeed a lot higher, we acknowledged that, but it wasn't done through the CSPA's system, so it is the Canadian record but not the lesser CSPA record.

A few years ago I rescued an old Delta II from being thrown out. It turned out to have been Cole's, with his name sewn on the panels. Bill had no problems with me having it, but after borrowing it back, couldn't bear parting with it again. He sent it out to be repaired before use. But realizing that jumping it again might not be the best thing, it then went to Beatnik, who jumped it at Bill Booth's big 50th anniversary bash in Deland early in 2015! So a little of Bill's gear lives on.

Some years back Skypuppy and Beatnik did work on the CSPA to let bygones be bygones and after a lot of work (and a few years I think) were successful in having Bill's day altitude record (36,916') recognized by the CSPA and not just the FAI.

A couple years back I looked through Bill's scrapbooks, full of newspaper clippings and photos, and took photos of a bunch of pages. Maybe I'll upload some somewhere. (Will check with his family first.) His daughter Crystal I believe keeps all his skydiving mementos.

Bill kept on wanting to come back for one last jump. His official retirement jump was in 2007, but he made a couple more after that. His last solo was 2012, and last jump was a tandem in 2013, when Crystal was doing student jumps at the Parachute School of Toronto.

Bill had "only" about 860 jumps but as he told one reporter years ago (as seen in his scrapbook), "Every one of my jumps counted for something. There's no quantity, but damn good quality."

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his brother Harry Cole wrote:

Memories of William Henry “Bill” Cole October 31, 1932 - December 25, 2015
Bill was the third son of William and Gladys Cole. Born in Long Branch, Ontario, Bill grew up admiring his older brother Syd, a Second World War hero. From an early age, Bill had an unbridled thirst for adventure - and a seemingly wont to challenge the world on just about everything.
From his early days in Long Branch, Bill was always involved in some escapade or adventure. There were schemes among schemes that involved all of his brothers in one way or another. The building of a raft with two of his younger siblings and a couple of boyhood friends - to sail out on Lake Ontario - then having to be rescued from the somewhat dubious craft by the harbor police shortly after its launch.
Later, when the family moved to Lakeview, Bill again gathered his younger brothers and led them on a number of adventures alongside the railway tracks, climbing around and over the train bridge that spanned the Etobicoke Creek, and foraging into the ‘unexplored’ woods. There were the forts that lined the ridge of the hill behind the family home - forts that Bill had help to engineer, complete with a communications link to a distant tree fort where they spied on train movements - not for any nefarious reason but only because it was fun to do.
And then there were the “war games” with the scouting missions over and around the Toronto Golf Club - where he and his brothers were chased more than once by the Greens Keeper. There was never a doubt that Bill was going to push the limits of what he could do - and he had fun doing it. Everyone enjoyed being part of the excitement their older brother created - or perhaps they just didn’t know any better!
He was always doing something that had an element of adventure (and it was not always exactly legal) but it was Bill doing his thing. Like the clandestine excursions into areas, acts which fueled Bill’s quest to go where no one else could - or would. Then conversely, the time he came to the rescue and defended the owner of a small restaurant against the rage of some unruly customers who refused to pay their fare.
Bill was an avid hunter, whether using a bow and arrow or a rifle - although he was not known to be the best of shots. He later joined the Peel Police Force - but alas, he was not one to be confined to the rules of the establishment, and his love of adventure and the unknown, soon took him elsewhere.
In 1962, Bill followed his younger brother Bob’s lead and tried Sport Parachuting. For Bob, it was a thrill to make a few jumps; but for Bill, it was in the world of sky diving that he was to experience his most interesting accomplishments. It was not enough to jump from airplanes - and later hot air balloons, but he had to take the adventure to a different level by becoming one of the first jumpers to take pictures during freefall, then setting a high altitude record for the time (albeit against the rules and not official), and then to eventually making two ‘chuteless’ jumps (again against the rules). He produced an early documentary on sky diving entitled “Silent Sky” and then got involved in television commercials where he sometimes acted in a featured role, while other times operating behind the scenes with other parachutists making the actual jumps.
Bill enjoyed being in the spotlight and later formed “The Descenders”, a group of skydivers who did a number of exhibition jumps at air shows around the country. He also piloted hot air balloons as well.
One of Bill’s greatest achievements was to singlehandedly build a full-sized Fokker Dr.1 Triplane from scratch. Unfortunately, a pilot friend he allowed to fly the temperamental aircraft, crashed on takeoff.
Bill was his own man, to be sure. He was always looking for the next great adventure that would take him to a new high and give him a sense of achievement. Some did, some didn’t.
There were many who did not always agree with his position on some issues - or the adventures he chose, but for some, it was a pleasure to be part of the schemes, plots and ploys he created during his lifetime.
Bill will be remembered by some as one of the more radical pioneers of adventure.
Some will remember him for reasons of their own.
I will remember him as my brother.
Blue skies forever, Bill.

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Bill was a good friend and will be missed. I am really disappointed that I couldn't attend his service. But I have spoke with Crystal and she understand. She is having a really hard time as they were extremely close and this came much faster than they could prepare for.

I saw Bill earlier this year and we had a long chat about many things. While this came too quick for him and his family, he was preparing for this day the best he could.

I currently own his Delta II, Para-Sled, Reserve and an old H/C. Both the Delta II and Para-Sled have been autographed by him. It gave him great joy to see his Delta II back in the air earlier this year. I still need to do some work on his Para-Sled to get his name back on the centre cell more permanently than the original ripstop tape. I will restore it and pay tribute to my friend.

Blue skies my friend, you will be missed but not forgotten.



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