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John_snurkowski

best days of parachuting?

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Best days of skydiving? As an official old fart I'd say the best days had little to do with the gear--it was the people. There was a camaraderie-- a sense of bon homme that seems to be missing today.
Even when the skies lowered, the wind howled and the rain was horizontal we were still there--looking up and swapping stories, talking skydiving.

I started in the 60's under modified rounds--then I thought I had died and gone to heaven the first day I strapped a Para Commander on my back. You had to have something like 100 or 200 jumps before they'd let you jump on of those. Cutaways were rare--and dying under a functional canopy was practically unheard of.

Mind you--put in 7 or 8 jumps in one day under a round and the next morning it felt like you got hit by a truck. But--we went out and did it all over again. Nobody was ever ever drunk at the DZ--and dope was something jazz musicians did. If you did something stupid somebody would let you know. There were skygods for sure--but we all knew who they were--and we let them hang out with each other until they got bored. There was "The Inn" where Jill (who made me the first ever Martini I ever drank) made your drinks--where you got a good steak at a fair price--and where, if you got too drunk to drive there was always a bunk. The cops knew us--and left us alone--for the most part. There was Fred--who sold his blood to get money to jump. There was Butch who took the time to teach--even nerds like me. There was Sonny who played his sax (Satin Doll mostly) at The Inn. There was Marcia--who I had a terrible crush on and actually got to kiss a couple of times when her BF (a JM) wasn't looking. There was Pam--dear god--Pam--who didn't jump but.......watching her play pool in a tight skirt on a rainy day made up for it. There was Al who was always by the book and by the numbers. There was Cardinal Puff. And of course there was Jacques--who by definition brought a certain air of arrogance to the place--who rode an elephant in a parade in his PI jumpsuit. There was the day when--at last--you had enough money to buy a Para Commander--and choosing the colors became a big decision. There were French jump boots that needed to be broken in--and became the unofficial badge that proclaimed, "I am a skydiver". There was the first static line jump--where you had absolutely no idea what the hell you were doing. Then there was the second jump--where you did have an idea and it scared the crap outta you. The rounds were steerable--sure they were. Wooden toggles--pull hard and it spun you around--slowly--very slowly. PLF was mandatory. AADs were nearly nonexistent. Cutaways only happened if you were jumping a PC and it really really screwed up--with shot and a half Capewells and a belly reserve (look, pull, punch). Dummy ripcord handles--then--one day--a real one. Big debates about whether the ripcord handle should face in or out on your harness. Cross pull vs. righ hand pull.
Somehow, most of us lived through it.....and some of us are lucky enough to be still doing it. Thank the gods I am one of those. And thank you to all my instructors, my friends who helped this snot-nosed nerd figure it out. They were--and some still are--some of the finest people I ever met.

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katzas

There was the first static line jump--where you had absolutely no idea what the hell you were doing. Then there was the second jump--where you did have an idea and it scared the crap outta you.



That whole recap was excellent. I especially liked the bit I quoted! Well written.

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I'm one of the really old farts here, really old. Started in 61 while a young Marine who along with other Marines who are really old now just jumped as much as we could as often as we could. On my 1st jump there were two of us in a Tri Pacer. Acting upon instructions from the pilot we got out on the left strut, one at a time and upon a nod from said pilot pushed off. Second guy out pulled in the S/L from the 1st guy, Hooked up his his own S/L & followed instructions as provided by the pilot. I think I was a jump-master at about 7 jumps and made my 1st demo around the same time (I was out). I instructed, packed & got my riggers ticket so I could legally pack reserves. My seal was an old rusty pair of pliers. We drank a lot of beer, cheap wine & a bit of Moon. I was sporting 9 rigs at the time & never packed on the DZ as we had a lot of students to help. They were old military "rag gores" I modified myself & packed my ass off along with others every Sat night until the we finished. I made about 300 jumps that way, improving on the exit & aircraft as we went along. Had a line over at one point & was so scared of using the 2 shots & belly mount reserve, rode it in. Surprisingly it didn't hurt too bad & I didn't break nothin. Spent a lot of Sunday evenings at the base whirlpool getting better again. Man them was the good old daze! We really didn't give a shit except for each other and had the best times one could have on the pay we made. I got out in 63 & drifted away from the sport for awhile, a long awhile and came back in 92. I have just under 3000 jumps now and have not chopped one yet. I think I have retired - again.

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oldwomanc6

Well, the consensus is: the '70s.

I agree, although the early '80s were darn near as good. Before the sport changed from a "club based" pseudo barnstorming mentality to a big business one.



Guess I was lucky then...did my first freefall back in '74 when when there was no such thing as "tandems"....

And there was that new thing called a Strato Star that everyone longed for....

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The best years of jumping were from 1962 to 1982. So many changes, and much of what was learned by trail and error. The thing that made it the best years for me, was the constant hate from CSPA towards anything I did. The more I did, the more they hated me. The more they hated me, the more I did. The Descenders Parateam and I, had the full and total support of the Ministry of Transport, ( Canada's version of the FAA ) and I had the world by the tail. I had sponsors of many kinds, but the main one was Toyota, a new vehicle every 3 months, all lettered up from 1972 to 1984 .. I had a watch company " BULOVA" , sports clothing manufacturer, and Gillette Trac II , and others. It was an exciting time to be jumping, because the general public had not even been aware that skydiving existed, until I came along and opened low at demos, and did other things that others wouldn't do. I did many HALO jumps, and everything I did made the news, but so did CSPA's sniping at me. It sure was the best. I think my 1st chuteless jump ( in 1969 ) started the ball rolling and it just kept getting better from there. I had a skydivers dream, made my living at my variety of jumping, and never looked back




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The 60s and 70s for me. I have been around skydiving for almost 51 years as a jumper, rigger, and pilot. My 1st jump course might have been a half hour and my 1st jump was also my 1st airplane ride. I was hooked. In the Army I was president of the post parachute club because I had more jumps than anyone else but we had lots of enthusiastic students and we were family.
After the Army the DZs I jumped at were also family and the coldest winter nasty day there would be 15 or 20 folks around to drink beer and tell lies. You got the DZ Friday night or Early Sat. and left Sun. night. Everyone pitched in for the sport and primadonnas were few and far between. When we won the 4 way nationals we worked with the students and RW students and passed are secrets on for NOTHING because we were all about the sport. The times and the people were good.
Now days it is unusual for anybody to stay much past dark on Sat. night and many only jump 1 day a weekend. For me it was a lifestyle and while I never got rich doing it I wouldn't change a thing. I made a meager living but sure had a bunch of fun.
GUNFIRE, The sound of Freedom!

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WGore

The 60s and 70s for me. I have been around skydiving for almost 51 years as a jumper, rigger, and pilot. My 1st jump course might have been a half hour and my 1st jump was also my 1st airplane ride. I was hooked. In the Army I was president of the post parachute club because I had more jumps than anyone else but we had lots of enthusiastic students and we were family.
After the Army the DZs I jumped at were also family and the coldest winter nasty day there would be 15 or 20 folks around to drink beer and tell lies. You got the DZ Friday night or Early Sat. and left Sun. night. Everyone pitched in for the sport and primadonnas were few and far between. When we won the 4 way nationals we worked with the students and RW students and passed are secrets on for NOTHING because we were all about the sport. The times and the people were good.
Now days it is unusual for anybody to stay much past dark on Sat. night and many only jump 1 day a weekend. For me it was a lifestyle and while I never got rich doing it I wouldn't change a thing. I made a meager living but sure had a bunch of fun.



Me too. My first jump was also my first airplane ride...and I never landed in an airplane the first year I was in the sport.

I was curious...the Army airborne guys...how many jumps would one typically do in a year - courtesy the US Army and while in the airborne ..vs. what sport parachutists would do in that same time frame?

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hardarch

***The 60s and 70s for me. I have been around skydiving for almost 51 years as a jumper, rigger, and pilot. My 1st jump course might have been a half hour and my 1st jump was also my 1st airplane ride. I was hooked. In the Army I was president of the post parachute club because I had more jumps than anyone else but we had lots of enthusiastic students and we were family.
After the Army the DZs I jumped at were also family and the coldest winter nasty day there would be 15 or 20 folks around to drink beer and tell lies. You got the DZ Friday night or Early Sat. and left Sun. night. Everyone pitched in for the sport and primadonnas were few and far between. When we won the 4 way nationals we worked with the students and RW students and passed are secrets on for NOTHING because we were all about the sport. The times and the people were good.
Now days it is unusual for anybody to stay much past dark on Sat. night and many only jump 1 day a weekend. For me it was a lifestyle and while I never got rich doing it I wouldn't change a thing. I made a meager living but sure had a bunch of fun.



Me too. My first jump was also my first airplane ride...and I never landed in an airplane the first year I was in the sport.

I was curious...the Army airborne guys...how many jumps would one typically do in a year - courtesy the US Army and while in the airborne ..vs. what sport parachutists would do in that same time frame?

I wasn't airborne so I forget how often they had to make pay jumps. 90 days comes to mind. Our club was on a leg post (Ft Knox) so we didn't get Military aircraft very often. When we did the jumps were free. We jumped off post and rented aircraft for tach time which made the jumps something over $2 a piece. That sounds pretty reasonable but the pay back then was pretty low. I was an E-5 Sgt when I got out and was making $211 a month.
I went into the Army with 125 jumps and came out with about 350, most of which were made in 1 1/2 years. The number of jumps I made out of Army aircraft could be added up on both of my hands and still have fingers left over.
GUNFIRE, The sound of Freedom!

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Yes, exactly....

"There was the first static line jump--where you had absolutely no idea what the hell you were doing. Then there was the second jump--where you did have an idea and it scared the crap outta you."

and...

" And of course there was Jacques" I worked for him at Elsinore.

Red, White and Blue Skies,

John T. Brasher D-5166

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Katzas wrote
Quote

Mind you--put in 7 or 8 jumps in one day under a round and the next morning it felt like you got hit by a truck. But--we went out and did it all over again. Nobody was ever ever drunk at the DZ--and dope was something jazz musicians did.



I started in the late 60s (still jumping) and it was a wonderful experience, but "dope was something jazz musicians did"??? In the early 70s I saw people snorting coke on a DC 3 riding up to 12.5. Lunch with a beer or two and jumping afterwards was no big deal. The smell of pot smoke wasn't uncommon in the parking area.

Maybe these jumpers were jazz musicians on their day jobs?;)

I was poor then and couldn't afford anything better than surplus rounds. The landings in afternoon winds backing up fast were brutal, but somehow nothing got broken. Still, jumping in the 60s was magic.
I feel truly privileged to have been part of that era.

377
2018 marks half a century as a skydiver. Trained by the late Perry Stevens D-51 in 1968.

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I don't know if they were the best days or not, but the most dramatic period IMO was about 74 to 78. That period marks the transition from military gear with round canopies to custom harness/container systems, 3-ring, hand-deploy (throw out now), and all squares. Glad I was there :)

-----------------------
Roger "Ramjet" Clark
FB# 271, SCR 3245, SCS 1519

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For me the best days were in the early 90's when most students jumped large ram-air parachutes (the Manta) and landed well enough that they wanted to make more jumps.

Tandem jumping was well underway by then, but most people were still willing to spend the time on a ground school and learn how to skydive.



+++1. I didn't start until 2002, but looking at the development of gear, skydiving styles, and price considerations, the mid to early 90's got it right. Tandem jumping was a new(er) thing, and DZ's had had too much of an opportunity to become tandem factories. Modern AAD's existed, and 'how small of a canopy can you jump' didn't appear to be a big issue then. The gear we jump even today was 95% the same, but the prices were under control.
=========Shaun ==========


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RogerRamjet

I don't know if they were the best days or not, but the most dramatic period IMO was about 74 to 78. That period marks the transition from military gear with round canopies to custom harness/container systems, 3-ring, hand-deploy (throw out now), and all squares. Glad I was there :)



I'll drink to that!

For me 75 thru 80 was the best.
My computer beat me at chess, It was no match for me at kickboxing....

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jbrasher

Yes, exactly....

"There was the first static line jump--where you had absolutely no idea what the hell you were doing. Then there was the second jump--where you did have an idea and it scared the crap outta you."

and...

" And of course there was Jacques" I worked for him at Elsinore.



Had to laugh. Jacques was (and I think still is) one of the icons of skydiving. I heard he is the mayor of some small town in California.
I once had the priviledge (?) of being pin checked by the man himself at Orange. I made a comment about it to him and, in inimitable Jacques style he just smiled and said, "Nobles Oblige". I laughed out loud.

Made the pilgrimage to Orange last summer--kinda like going to Mecca. Walked into the office and there, as big as life, was John Carlson--one of the Orange originals. We reminisced a bit. I had my brand new rig in the trunk but didn't jump--windy I think.

Will be making my way across the USA from DZ to DZ this summer. Might be my swan song--might not. Got two months to abuse myself--can't think of a better way.

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I loved the late 70's. Started in 72. Made around 100 jumps on my Thunderbow before my first square jump. Landed that Red and Black StratoStar in the peas at Austin Lake airport outside of Kalamazoo. The wooden toggles from my T-bow hang from the ceiling fan in our bedroom.
Remember it all every time I look up at them.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Lord, let me be the person my dog thinks I am.

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