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Question -- who jumped at the Houston Parachute Club and Galveston Skydivers, pre 1970's??

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-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Question -- who jumped at the Houston Parachute Club and Galveston Skydivers, pre 1970's??


CY Stapelton D606 and Chuck Warwick D605 Wrote Pat Works

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Hi Pat: I've run into Chuck Warwick after many, many years and we are trying to put together the names of some of the folks who jumped at the Houston Parachute Club (HPC) and Galveston Skydivers.
Below is what we've put together so far:

Trying to come up with as many of the Texas old-timers we knew as possible and have been able to come up with a few names. Below are ones I can remember or ones I’ve got some kind of notes on. If you can fill me in on others I would appreciate it – only ones active before 1970.


Clyde Jacks -- I don’t remember whether Clyde Jacks was before your time or not. I never made a jump with him but was on the DZ several times when he was there. He got killed when he crashed his homemade aerobatic plane. He had quite a low D license - #42. Clyde got the first gold wings I saw. -<< Clyde Was My Instructor at HPC when I started in ‘61; He was magic in freefall!! >>

Pat Works.--- Pat was somewhat of a guru and is still involved somehow or another. He knows more about the early years than do I. D-1813 -<<>

Joe Kuhn. Joe didn’t jump a lot. Not sure how many he made. He is most remembered by the time his beautiful Golden Lab ran into the prop of our jump plane and was cut to pieces. Someone said the dog was a Wyamarana - but I’m pretty sure it was a lab. -<< Was a Wymer named "Max" my pal, blue eyes, sorta purple fur. Cool dog - >> Joe and the dog rode to the DZ with me that day.

J.D. Dodson. I think you told me he died. He was the old man. I think he made his first jump on his 50th birthday. A great individual and quite small…maybe 5’5” or so. -<<
Pat Cupps. Female jumper with round heels. She and some jumper I don’t remember joined the Mile High Club at the Houston club DZ. She came to the DZ fairly often but didn’t jump much. Was known to have made out on a packing table with some of the members. - >> YEP -<<< <-

Skippy Manino. Quite a character and one of the most profane individuals I’ve ever heard. I made a lot of jumps with him. -<< One Sweetheart of a Guy Got photos of him somewhere- >>

Eddie Humrighaus. Don’t remember anything but the name. -<< BIG Guy, HPC, Pres. We ALL wore white sears coveralls, except for Fitch -<<<<-

Jacques-André Istel – The father of sports parachuting in America. I never met him on a DZ but did meet him briefly when he was a guest speaker at our Rotary Club.- >> I'll see him at POSPR in Feb -<<

Carlos Wallace – You certainly remember as much about him as do I. Carlos and I did set a world’s first. We were the first two to make a baton pass when jumpers exited different planes. He had D-152. Carlos was one of the earlier recipients of PCA’s gold wings. He was killed trying to escape armed robbery he and another jumper pulled.. I don’t remember the other fellow’s name, but do recall that he was truly a nasty person and on several occasions was with Carlos when they stole rigs from military installations. Carlos was famous for his “FBI modifications” – a nylon patch over where the serial number was supposed to be. -<< Loved to Jump with him, Drinkin,' he scared the shit out of me -<<<

Ed Fitch. You also will remember Ed. He died of hepatitis and George Sage and Lenny Potts flew his body over the gulf and dumped it. He was quite a character – a one of a kind. Ed flew a couple of us to a number of meets across the country…from California to Mass. - >> Instructor #11, Founding father of USPA , Ed took me under his wing. High Respect -<<

Gus Anagnostis – Owner of the Galveston Skydivers. We both made a lot of jumps with Gus. Gus was airborne in WWII and had 2 combat jump stars on his jump wings. His wife, Stevie, had him a pair made with diamonds rather than the combat stars. I helped pack the day he made 50 jumps. – D-114. - -<<> 50 jumps/day When he was 50 Years Old!!! Made bloody WWII combat jumps -- Amazing guy. - - The Galveston Skydivers’ Skull Patch was from his Airbourne Unit the Highly Decorated 502 "Death from Above" -<<< <-

Chuck Warwick & Cy-- best friends. We sent our license aps in together and I got D-605 and you got D-606. We at a square dancing club I belonged to. You saw my skydiving bumper sticker, asked me how to get started and we jumped together for a number of years.. - >> Chuck was always Cheerful and smiling: You guys got Ds in the 600s, Damn! -- Mike Linz A&M, My student, got D668, pissed me off, I couldn't afford to jump & get my "D" - Mike and I are still in touch- >>

Cy Stapleton – D-605.(me) I got my gold wings in 1964 or 65 and my gold freefall badge a little before that. I ended up with about 13 hours of freefall. Don’t recall exactly because all of my logbooks were stolen along with my car when I was visiting my aunt and uncle in Atlanta, GA. I don’t remember ever receiving my gold wings or 12-hour freefall badge, so I may have not actually sent the application in. I hold one record. Carlos Wallace and I made the first baton pass between 2 jumpers who exited different aircraft. - >> >CY remember when Wallace and Jacks made a baton pass with my pal Tommy Foster on his 6th Jump??? BOY the PCS Freaked over that one -<< - >>Pat>> I think you were Pres. of HPC when Clyde crashed & died. … HPC, Nice bunch of folks. Treated me real well. I was 17 -<<
George Sage – George was around a fairly good bit but I didn’t know him well and recall little about him other than he piloted our jump plane fairly often. - >>< -- Big Man -<<

Bill Nicholson - Bill worked for Chuck Warwick at Houston Auto Glass. He was a great fellow. He had a malfunction of his main, cut away, and failed to open his reserve. He got impaled on a tree. Bill wore heavy welders gloves and always had a bungee over his reserve ripcord. I packed his reserve and warned him numerous times about that danger but he didn’t listen. RIP

Nels Lindbloom – A good friend of Bill Nicholson. I don’t recall much about Nels. -<<
George Gividen – D-136. A fantastic individual. I made a number of jumps with him. He also was one of my instructors at West Point. George was a true hero. While serving in Korea he was decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and 5 Purple Hearts. He lost a leg in action and often jumped with his false leg strapped to his reserve. - >>I Didn't know that... He ran PCA when I joined -<<

Russ Gunby – C-350. Russ was executive director of PCA. I made a couple of loads with him at a meet in Vegas. I don’t know if he ever got his D license or not. <<< Pat<<- He also wrote the first book on skydiving and was a tireless promoter of parachuting… a giant in our vast sky >>>

Joe Crane – First director of PCA. I ran into him a couple of times at meets or other skydiving events. <<<< - was a tireless promoter of parachuting… a giant in our vast sky >>>


Bob Buquor- Bob was a pioneer in freefall photography. I met him at a meet in California and ordered a camera system from him. He put together my first freefall camera and viewfinder. It was a Robot Royal camera. Bob made a mount with a wire target viewer and gave instructions on how to mount and adjust it on my Bell helmet. I never made a jump with him and don’t believe he signed my logbook.

Dan Poynter – Dan is the guru of skydiving books. He has been called the world’s largest 1-man publishing company – Parapublishing. I’ve met Dan at several skydiving events, but never jumped with him. I don’t know if he has a PCA license or not. - >>> - Yes. Dan is D-450 something. I help his curating the artifacts for the National Skydiving Museum. He's head curator. He's written 123++ books!. Lives in Santa Barbara. -<<

Loy Brydon – D-12 – Loy was one of the original 13 Golden Knights. At the time he had more dead centers and more jumps than any skydiver. I never jumped with him but met him when he came to the Galveston club with Dick Fontenberry.

Cy Stapleton
USMA ex-Class of 1960



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From: Pat Works


Hello CY Stapelton D606and Chuck Warwick D605!

Glad you survive! Boy, I don't remember names worth a damn!
Here's some names, Pre 1970s for Texas, HPC, Galveston, A&M, and Dallas, etc...

• Eddie Hummerhauser BIG Guy, HPC president in '61?
• Clyde Jacks D42, HPC. Jacks competed in the 1962 World Parachuting Championships… He was a world-class ‘spot-jumper’ ( aka Accuracy). Cy, you wrote his Obit. In Skydiver Mag
• John Havitol, HPC, red head, Hungarian Freedom fighter, about 800+ jumps, Stainless steel front tooth. Interesting jumps with the Russian Army.
• "The Undertakers" George and___?__ HPC
• Gus, Stevie ... All Galveston and HPC [we were lucky to have such fine DZOs!]]
• Bill Nicholson RIP TASCO --(Fitch's Air Park "Texas Air Sports Co.")
• Skippy (was a champion boxer, too) bought Clyde's D # for $1 when Jacks was dying "Hell, he ain't gonna use it"
• Carlos’ Son Doug, Wife Marcie, and Daughter Jo
• Don Deveny A&M and HPC and Galveston, Wallace Outlaw Still my good friend.
• Tim Hinkle, 1- jumper pilot, Wallace Outlaw Still my good friend.
• Jerry Becker RIP, Wallace Outlaw
• Ed Burran, UofH and Wallace Outlaw Still my good friend.
• Fritz Jackson (Lives in Fla) HPC etc Still my good friend.
• Joe Khuns, lives in Chicago
• Jesse Hall, into dogs, Texas Still my good friend. He & Deveney shoot some at Gunsight
• Robert Bottrell, "Big Bottrell" Wallace and Galv. Still my friend.
• Cal Cary, Galveston
• Kent Standaford, Army, UofH and TASCO
• Geo Armstrong ...HPC... We flew Nicholson's corpse home in Wallaces 195. A stevedore with interesting hobbies.
• Hop Harbeson, UofH, Wallace, Ft. Hood (Army), Still my good friend. Adjunct Professor
• Mike Linz A&M, USPA, Judge, one of my students D 668? Still my good friend. Lawyer type.
• John Card, C-245?? TPC took his USPA away for using the word "Skydiving" in '62 ?whatever
• Tee Taylor Crump, TPC, Dallas Skydivers, POSPR, she and I ran the TPC Newsletter Windline. Still my good friend.
• Phil Mayfield, BASE #2; Phil Smith BASE #1 (Dead Boenish is BASE #3)
• BOB Richardson, Texas A&M Team Pres. Shot himself
• McElfish took the rigs Gene Ritchie gave us and converted em to sport jumping... A&M team members got 2 free rigs!! -<<• Gary Ward, Wallace's DZ, Gary n I made a water jump with no reserves into Lake Houston. EEkkk! Became a successful DZO
• Mike Mullins, student of mine at A&M (I was Training Officer). Mike grabbed my hot 7-TU for his 3rd jump. OUCH! Now a DZO with Fast elevators


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List of a few First D-license holders we knew
• 1 MA Lewis B Sanborn: Made his last jump Nov ’13 in Chichago
• 2 MA Jacques A Istel, quit jumping decades ago. Lives in his own Town, Flecity Az “The Center of the Earth”
• 22 NC Gerald F Bourquin, USAPT, Still Jumps, lives in AZ
• 42 TX Jacks, Clyde E d42, HPC + Galveston, Cy wrote his Obit. In Skydiver Mag
• 47 FL Poppenhager, Paul J. Probably still jumps?
• 50 NJ Guilfoyle, Lee - Made a Tandem jump at Felicity with the POSPR
• 60 IL Stoyas, James C. –Style-Accuracy, Bounced in the ‘70s in Ill.
• 89 TX Fitch, Edward D. HPC, TASCO, TPC, PCA, USPA, dead
• 114 TX Anagnostis, Constantine B Doc …Don’t know what happened to Tiger or Stevie
• 115 TX Economy, Richard – Early HPC jumper, was in 1st 4-way star, did early RW with Jacks,
• 136 CA Gividen, George M. Early PCA
• 138 WA Gainor, Denny Bear -- Active ‘til death. Died at Perris DZ waiting for a load (Heart attack)
• 152 TX Wallace, Carlos, G. HPC and Wallace’s DZs; Excellent skydiver & VERY dangerous man
• 157 AK Sisler, G. Ken -- KIA in ‘Nam, Medal of Honor. PCA, NCPL, USPA, Judge
• 202 CA Tyson, Jerome P -- Illinois RW Jumper, Cameraman, Judge, dead
• 209 TX Bobby Dean Crump Dallas Skydiver? Married Tee, Last saw him in ’76
• 220 FL Potts, Len Currently Running the Natl. Skydiving Museum
• 240 CA Richard Pedley CA jumper helped found Perris/Hemet with Sanborn, RIP: Building strike on BASE jump with his son.
• 247 TX George H. Sage “Big George Sage” Galveston, Pilot. Dunno more
• 256 TX William E. Ritchie Sgt. Gene Ritchie, Ft. Hood Skydivers. Big supporter of Aggie Jumpers
• 268 TX Robert H. Sholly Lt. Bob Sholly, post Army, became a student at A&M, Aggie Parachute Team
• 269 WA Peter A. Goodwin Still very active jumping in CA. Looks like he’s 50 years old
• 272 MI Sinclair, Bob Bob is still around & hanging in. Looks like he’s 107
• 298 NY William Ottley WHO , Good friend,
• 309 NC Robert McDermott Ft. Bragg M. Sgt,
• 327 CA Larry L. Perkins Ran Skylark Elsinore. His mom sold it to Istel
• 329 IL Oldrich Olichovik Ill. Golden Puppett, Rick was killed in the Hinckley D18 crash
• 330 LA R.L. Ticer RL “Dicer” Ticer. Ran whorehouses in LA. Ran with Wallace. Gangster type
• 336 CA Arthur E. Armstrong
• 354 IL Walter Huninsky “Sky Huminsky” retired. Spends all his time jumping in Ill. Summers and Z-Hills Winter, has about 10,000 jumps now

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Here are all the SCRs awarded in Dickinson (Galveston Skydivers). The ones that say Houston are most likely Dickinson. None recorded prior to 1970 but I know a lot of these guys were jumping back then.

774 Bottrell David A., Houston Texas 6-12-1971
775 Ross Dub, Houston Texas 6-12-1971
776 Sanders Tom, Houston Texas 6-12-1971
777 Butchko Andy, Houston Texas 6-12-1971
855 Miller Rick, Houston Texas 7-31-1971
877 Boatman Dave , Dickenson Texas 7-31-1971
1039 Galloway Daryl R., Dickenson Texas 10-2-1971
1069 Warwick Chuck, Dickenson Texas 10-2-1971
1070 Umschied Lee, Dickenson Texas 10-2-1971
1111 Geary Tom, Dickenson Texas 11-14-1971
1338 Vincent Bob, Dickerson Texas 4-23-1972
1339 Johnson Rick, Dickerson Texas 4-23-1972
1978 Hanus Jerry T., Dickenson Texas 10-14-1972
1979 Maroon Carl, Dickenson Texas 10-14-1972
1980 Stewart Don, Dickenson Texas 10-14-1972
2041 Tacconelly Steven, Dickinson Texas 10-14-1972

Here are all the SCSs awarded in Dickinson (Galveston Skydivers). None prior to 1970. I expect the ones labeled Houston were actually from Dickinson since all those guys got their SCR on the same date and always jumped together.

24 Butchko Andy Dickenson Texas 7-17-1971 8th
33 Jackson Fritz Dickenson Texas 7-31-1971 8th
34 Phillips Curran, Dickenson Texas 7-31-1971 9th
35 Miller Ric, Dickenson Texas 7-31-1971 10th
36 Mayfield Phil, Dickenson Texas 7-31-1971 11th
37 Cox Ron, Houston Texas 7-31-1971 8th
38 Peck Jack, Houston Texas 7-31-1971 8th
39 Waters Charlie, Houston Texas 7-31-1971 8th
292 Johnson Rick, Dickenson Texas 4-23-1972 8th
625 Steward Don, Dickenson Texas 10-14-1972 9th
662 Tacconelly Steve, Dickenson Texas 10-14-1972 8th

Obviously many jumpers who got their SCR and SCS elsewhere also jumped in Dickinson but all these got their awards in Dickinson. And of course there were the odd style and accuracy jumpers who wouldn't be on these lists.

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Andy Butchko is alive and well in Belize. He still makes a couple of jumps a year out of their military plane. He's pretty connected to the Belize Defence Force guys and he's still a character.

He tells some great tales of the Texas daysB|

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Thanks SCS292!
Here's more Texas info from Cy Stapleton, D605
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Hi Pat:

Here is an update on my earlier messages - including your additions/corrections and a few of my own.

Chuck and I would love to work with you. Below is what I've put together along with your additions/corrections. I'm trying to get a list of the first 2,000 D licenses from the new PCA and will go through those when I get it. The additional licenses should bring it up to about 1970.

I've got a question. I don't ever remember receiving my gold wings or my 12-hour badge. More than likely I never applied for them. I took a look at the applications and they have to be confirmed by a national director. My logbooks were stolen, so I don't have those, but there are a lot of fellows still around who know I made well over 1,000 jumps and a significant number of those were from 12,500 and a few between 15,000 and 25,000.

Any idea who I might need to contact to complete the two applications? I don't know the exact number of jumps I made or the exact minutes of freefall.
=======

Here are a few of my jump stories…
I started skydiving in the early 1960s. I continued jumping periodically whenever I found a drop zone near where I was.

When I moved to Houston I started fishing. Most of the time I would go to Galveston and fish at the end of the North Jetty. On one of these trips I noticed parachutes in the sky and stopped to check it out.

Turns out that was the home of the Galveston Skydivers. I introduced myself to the club owner, Dr. Gus Anagnostis. Gus was in the 101st Airborne Division during WWII and made 2 combat jumps with the 502nd and 509th Infantry Battalion. When I met him he was wearing those WWII jump wings with the combat jump stars. I got details on when and where they jumped and proceeded to Galveston to fish.

The next weekend I went back to Gus’ club and made a couple of jumps using club equipment. My training lasted about 30 minutes. Gus was my instructor. Gus gave me the name of a dealer in Dallas and I ordered my equipment from that dealer.

I started jumping every weekend that weather permitted. I loved skydiving and was very active until Memorial Day 1966. I had a lot of fun and a few harrowing experiences.

I was a fun jumper. Accuracy was not one of my assets. If I landed on the DZ that was fine. The only dead center I ever made happened to be at a meet at A&M. Hitting that 12” round pie plate was purely accidental and resulted in my sharing a 1st place with one other jumper – don’t recall his name. I did beat out some of the far more experienced jumpers, including Carlos Wallace.

The highest jump I ever made had some glitches, but was probably the most fun of all.

A number of us loaded into what I recall was a Twin Beech. We took off and started to climb to the highest altitude possible. Since to reach the maximum altitude we had to unload one or two jumpers periodically, we drew straws to determine the order. I drew the next to last straw.

There were only two of us remaining as we reached the bird’s maximum altitude – I do not recall the altitude but 26,500 feet comes to mind. The other jumper was a female who I believe might have been woman’s skydiving champion and who I had been harassing and playing fun and games with all the way up. I think she was from the Dallas area. When it came time to jump I spotted the load and jumped. No sooner than I had exited the bird there was the flash of a yellow jumpsuit passing me and all of a sudden my reserve parachute opened and I was hanging at around 26,000 feet. She had gotten her revenge by pulling my reserve ripcord. One question about this jump I have not been able to answer – oxygen. I’m pretty sure the plane’s cabin was not pressurized. I do know I had a bail-out bottle, but do not recall ever having used it.

It was a long, gorgeous and serene ride down. Since there are no control lines on the reserve parachute I had to go where the wind took me. I landed about 25 miles from our drop zone and it took me hours to get back – arriving near dusk. I ended up the butt of almost all jokes for several weeks.

The most foolish jump I ever made was in Bandera, Texas. A fellow jumper and physician, Dr. Ed Fitch got a free weekend for two if the two of us would make demonstration parachute jumps at the dude ranch. The dude ranch would provide the pilot and plane for as many jumps as we could make. Hard to beat a deal like that.



(long post... I'll post more later)
Pat Works nee Madden Travis Works, Jr .B1575, C1798, D1813, Star Crest Solo#1, USPA#189,

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Cy,

John Mincher is a fellow Aggie, class of '68, '69 or '70 I think. He was very active at A&M, jumping with Gary Lewis who was a classmate and pilot, and John is responsible for getting me on the load where I got my SCR & SCS on my 43rd jump. He vouched for me and since there wasn't anybody else there with experience and I had been in a 6-man the weekend before they let me go near the end. 2 planes and I was 3rd out of the chase plane with John following me out. He beat me in so I lucked out on the SCS. Spiderman got his SCR on the same jump. John still makes a jump or two a year and has an office in League City.

There is a great thread about the Galveston skydiving days here. I don't know how to paste the link but I'm sure someone does and will post it.

I am busy fishing in Rockport these days.

Best regards,
Rick Johnson, '79 (I goofed off for a while, skydiving and traveling before getting serious and finishing. Should have been class of '72)

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Another email about early Texas Jumps from Cy Stapleton D-605- -
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The most foolish jump I ever made was in Bandera, Texas. A fellow jumper and physician, Dr. Ed Fitch got a free weekend for two if the two of us would make demonstration parachute jumps at the dude ranch. The dude ranch would provide the pilot and plane for as many jumps as we could make. Hard to beat a deal like that.

Ed was a Houston surgeon. His father was my middle daughter, Happy’s pediatrician. Ed was, to say the least, unconventional. He owned and flew a Swedish aerobatic plane and also had a Cessna single engine. I don’t recall the model. On one occasion we were jumping at the Houston Parachute Club (HPC) drop zone and he realized he was scheduled for surgery and there was not enough time to drive to the hospital. He and another pilot got into his plane, they flew to the hospital and he jumped into the hospital’s parking lot. Ed died of hepatitis and per his wishes and his wife’s authorization, he had an unconventional burial. George Sage, another jumper and pilot put Ed’s body in a USPS mail sack, weighed it with iron weights, loaded Ed into the plane, flew out over Galveston Bay, and dumped Ed into the bay.

At Bandera Ed and I made 9 or 10 jumps on Saturday. Most were 30 second delays from 7,500 feet. On Sunday we decided we would go higher and made a couple of 60 second delays from 12,500 feet trailing smoke from smoke grenades we had affixed to our feet. I then decided to give them a real show. Ed tried to talk me out of it but I would not listen. I had this planned. I was an FAA licensed parachute rigger so I had sewn extra sets of “D” rings and capewells onto one of my harnesses and I had brought some extra reserves in Ed’s plane. I hooked everything up and looked like a robot. A photo was taken but it is long lost.

I had my Security main parachute that had the reserve on the back mounted above the main. I then hooked one of the reserves’ two snaps to each of 4 of the “D” rings. I hooked one of the snaps of an unpacked reserve that I had stuffed into a cardboard helmet box and chain linked the lines to the last “D” ring.

I then got into the plane and told the pilot to go up to at least 15,000 feet. He did and I spotted him over the dude ranch and exited. Immediately upon exiting I threw out the helmet box, the chute opened, and as soon as I was hanging I popped the capewell and cutaway, going back into freefall until I pulled the ripcord on the next reserve. I repeated the process for 5 cutaways.

When I landed the crowd roared. I had yet to open my Security main or Security back mounted reserve. Runners found all of the reserves, though it took some time to find one of them.

I had a few close calls. There was a jumper named Carlos Wallace who was also in the Houston Parachute Club. I made a lot of jumps with Carlos because he was always at the DX and since his jumps did not cost him anything, he was on almost every load. Carlos was a true daredevil. While the lowest altitude I felt safe pulling at was 2,000 feet, Carlos would often go down to 500 feet before pulling. I don’t recall the altitude we jumped from but Carlos and I did a baton pass. After he gave me the baton I waved him away and a few moments later I pulled. Carlos had failed to move away and he came through my canopy, broke several of my lines and got some pretty bad line burns on his arm. He opened safely but I had to pull my reserve. I ended up coming down on a fully opened reserve but spinning because of a partially collapsed main. Scary but I landed safely though very hard.

Carlos and I also set a record – the only skydiving record I ever held. We were the first to make a baton pass between two jumpers where the jumpers exited different aircraft. Actually it was an easy task. I believe I was in a Cessna 185 and Carlos in a 190. We went to about 7,500 feet with Carlos’ plane a little above and to the side of mine. The pilots were on the radio with each other and Carlos spotted the target. Both pilots started a 5-4-3-2-1 countdown and at 1 we both exited. I got into a stable position and remained there while Carlos tracked over to me and handed me the baton. The baton was one that fellow jumper who was a machinist had made out of aluminum and anodized it a red color. After landing we flipped a coin to see who got the baton and I won. I had it engraved with the event and date. Somewhere over the years it has disappeared. Earlier I had used that same baton on a jump with my friend, Chuck Warwick.

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Houston Parachute Club Jumpers in the 1960s: Yes, I remember.

-- There was a Hungarian who jumped with us. We called him Iron Tooth. He had fought in the resistance. Big fellow, six foot, strong, handsome, red hair, with a stainless steel front tooth to accent his smile. John Havitol –Did some packing for the Houston Parachute Club out at BeeLine Airport ’61-‘65. Taught me how to pack. I remember that he jumped a Chinese silk 28' canopy. Beautiful canopy. Radiant, it glowed mother-of pearl in the sun. Sweet in the sky, a pleasure to see in the air. … Watched it blow to ribbons on opening. First malfunction I ever saw. It opened, exploded, and streamered. Last silk canopy I saw. His reserve opened quick.

Jumps were $4.50. I was 17 with no money. As a result, jumps were few and days were long. We’d pack and talk. John disliked ethnic Russian soldiers. They were quartered in civilian's houses and made a mess. For instance, a Russian private in his unit, “Didn’t know much; had his goldfish in a bowl. To clean the fish’s bowl, this dolt pours goldfish into the toilet! It flushed of course. Now angry, this fool puts a grenade in the toilet; everything breaks …. Disrespectful hooligans!”

Skydiving in the parachuting-wild USSR under Stalin, John made 500-600 USSR jumps in the 1950s. He shared stories with me. He said, "One day everything was white; there was much snow on the ground. Everything was flat. We made a delay with 4-men. I had the only altimeter. I did not much like these men. I delayed my opening. I went very low. I got open OK." What about the others? Havitol looked at me, "Thump, Thump, thud!" and slapped the packing table three times.

Yes, Iron Tooth was a Russian Army Sargent who deserted to fight with Hungarian Freedom fighters. I asked him about this fighting for the resistance. Sgt. Havitol related that, "It was easy. I take a machine gun with my loader up in a Hotel. A corner window. Not much problem.... We fire out this window at the invaders. Afterward, I am told that they know who I am and I must leave. This is a problem. I must defect. So, I walked down the railroad tracks for three days. That was hungry."
Pat Works nee Madden Travis Works, Jr .B1575, C1798, D1813, Star Crest Solo#1, USPA#189,

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More about Houston area jumpers in the 1960s from Cy Stapleton, D605

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"Over the years I used a couple of different automatic opening devices for my reserve parachute. I don’t recall exactly how they worked, but one jump I made confirmed that at least my Russian KAP3 worked fine. I kept my devices set to open at just under 2,000 feet but rarely armed them. On this particular jump I pulled at about 2,200 feet – my normal pulling altitude, got a normal opening and suddenly my reserve deployed. I had failed to do something and the KAP3 worked. Other than the embarrassment there was no problem. Immediately upon realizing my reserve ripcord had been pulled I grabbed the canopy before it deployed and held it until just before landing. My other device I believe was named Security. I bought it from the fellow who invented it. It was an altimeter hooked up to a pyro technique. You set the opening altitude, arm the device, and hook a short cable to the ripcord. When you hit the set altitude a blank cartridge would fire and the ripcord would be pulled. I don’t recall ever actually using that one.

Some of us decided to go to a meet that was to be held at the Thunderbird airstrip in Las Vegas. I believe there were four of us with Fitch flying. The event went fine and on the way back we stopped for fuel somewhere along the way – I believe it may have been Alberquerque. We took a break at the airport, staying about an hour or so. There were a number of military aircraft parked at the strip. We got back on the plane and started home again when Ed’s plane blew a jug and oil covered the windshield.

His best scenario would have been to have the rest of us jump, but while we had some reserves in the cabin we had no harnesses. Fitch babied the bird and we ended up landing in Wink, Texas. Ed stayed with the plane and the rest of us took a bus to Houston.

Turns out that when we landed for fuel on the way back from Vegas, Carlos had broken into one or more of the military aircraft and stole some of their parachutes and put them in Ed's cargo compartment.

Carlos was not known to be the most reputable of our clan. I know that several times he stole rigs from the parachute loft at Ft. Polk, Louisiana. He would modify and sometimes dye these rigs, making 5- or 7-panel TU sports rigs. Carlos' rigs were pretty easy to identify because on most of them there was something called an "FBI modification" - a rectangular sewn on patch where the serial number had been should have been. A few years later he paid the ultimate price when a restaurant owner shot and killed him while he was riding away on his motorcycle after robbing the restaurant at gunpoint.

The closest I ever came to meeting my Maker came at a meet at Texas A&M. The weekend was beautiful, there was no wind, and the jump was flawless until I attempted to open my main. I had a “streamer.” Streamers are normally easy to clear. What happens is that the chute comes out and rather than the rushing air opening the canopy the air rushes straight up and out the apex. Normally all you need to do is to pull the lines on one side to get the apex off center and the chute will open. Nothing I could do would make the chute inflate and I was getting really close to the ground. I let go the main and pulled my reserve at about 500 feet. The reserve partially opened and then started wrapping itself around the main. I was doomed. For some reason the good Lord decided it was not my time and just before my feet hit the ground both the main and reserve partially opened making it one of the softest landings I had experienced to that date.

My last jump was on Memorial Day 1966. I was jumping with Gus Anagnostis’ club midway between Houston and Galveston. It was a beautiful day and almost no wind. I was making my last jump of the day. I don’t recall the altitude – probably 7,500 feet. When I pulled my ripcord I had a very hard opening and when I looked up I had a perfect “Mae West.” A single line had gone over the top of my canopy dividing it exactly in half. That is the best kind of a Mae West to have because you do not spin and it is easy to control using your control lines – if you have control lines. Immediately I noticed both of my control lines had broken upon opening. There was no way to control the chute except to pull on the shroud lines. At that point in the sport to do that was believed to be far too dangerous. I had to ride it down.

I had opened at about 2,000 feet and was directly over the Gulf Freeway. As I got closer to the ground I saw that I was headed southbound over the northbound lane. At about 200 feet I decided to take a chance and I gently pulled on one of my lines hoping to turn the direction I was headed. It worked and I landed at the side of a 3-story home with my chute caught on something on the roof. My feet were about 8-10 feet from the ground and I was unable to pop my capewells to release the chute. I was in the process of getting out of my harness when Anagnostis and a couple of others rushed up and helped me down.

They retrieved my rig and we went back to the DZ. I dropped my helmet, instruments and rig on the ground and told Gus the club could have it. I was through jumping. That was in no way a really bad malfunction, but neither were the other four I had in my last seven jumps. I figured someone was trying to tell me something if I, an experienced jumper with over 1,500 jumps had 5 malfunctions out of 7 jumps. I left and never went back.

One humorous experience happened at a hotel in Chicago while I was attending a printing convention. I was sitting at the bar and this youngster was telling skydiving war stories to a small crowd. I asked him if he had a skydiving license. He proudly pulled out his license. It was something like D409820 or some huge number. I congratulated him, smiled, and handed him mine. His eyes widened when he saw mine was #D605. Had I applied immediately after I was qualified, six or eight months before I actually applied, my number would have been a much lower number – probably in the 200. These were the early days when a lot of jumpers would use the money required for a license application preferred to use the money for jumps.

Another not-so-humorous experience occurred earlier in my skydiving days. I was driving back from a meet and stopped in Atlanta to spend the night with my aunt and uncle. I parked my car in front of their home and when I came out the next morning the car was gone. In the car was my new ParaCommander rig and my five log books and one of my rigger logs. The rig could be replaced but not the log books. To me they were priceless. I had many of the earliest skydivers who signed as witnesses to my jump including several who had single-digit license numbers. Also six of the first seven astronauts had witnessed jumps. Among the other important witnesses was George Gividen. George had been one of my instructors at West Point and he lost his left leg in Korea. That did not stop him for jumping. I made several jumps with the one-legged George. An interesting sidebar, it was Ernest West, another acquaintance of mine who earned the Medal of Honor for saving George’s life in Korea."


Pat Works nee Madden Travis Works, Jr .B1575, C1798, D1813, Star Crest Solo#1, USPA#189,

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Anyone remember a (stuttering) Dave Saffel. I knew him before I started jumping and after he had quit jumping. A Korean Veteran, where the close proximity to an exploding grenade had left him with a speech stutter, Dave was also a PCA D license. I think he had a California jumping background and had shown me a photo of a very large (28 or so) round star he was in, but I do remember him telling me of Doc’s 50 jump day. Dave was the sort that is hard to forget…

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On 1/27/2014 at 9:55 AM, fastphil said:

Anyone remember a (stuttering) Dave Saffel. I knew him before I started jumping and after he had quit jumping. A Korean Veteran, where the close proximity to an exploding grenade had left him with a speech stutter, Dave was also a PCA D license. I think he had a California jumping background and had shown me a photo of a very large (28 or so) round star he was in, but I do remember him telling me of Doc’s 50 jump day. Dave was the sort that is hard to forget…

 

Edited by NSCSA
wrong decade thread, will contact Phil in correct thread.

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