Skydiving friends of Max Miensopust.
Sad news to report folks, Max Miensopust D # 2339, POPS # 541 today passed away today 30 June 2015 at 3:12 PM in the Gulfside Hospice in Zephyrhills, Florida and is climbing to altitude on his way to Valhalla. Max being the stoic German that he was and not wanting to burden people, suffered silently and never let anyone know just how seriously ill he was in the last few years of his life until the end when it was too late. Gulfside Hospice is beautiful facility and the staff were very caring both to Max and visitors during his short stay there.
As most of you know Max was a very private person as far as his personal life, you would almost have to water board him to find out anything. I had known Max since the early 1970s when I started jumping at the Lakewood Sport Parachute Center of Parachutes Incorporated. These are some of the highlights that I had been able to have revealed to me over 40 plus years.
Max was born in 1931 in the town of Neisse ( Nysa in present day Poland) in Upper Silesia a province of Germany. At some time during World War 2 the family moved to Bremerhaven, if I would venture a guess it was because of the approach of the Soviet Red Army. He mentioned one time he was witness to and being on receiving end of the allied bombings of Bremerhaven, I'm sure events like this would have an effect on shaping the future personality of a young adolescent. Max one time mentioned he worked in a coal mine in Germany but I would guess it was after the war based on his age. Max initially immigrated to Canada via Halifax, Nova Scotia some time I guess in early 50s. and then on to the United States. Max served in the U.S Army from July 1956 to July 1958 and attained the rank of E-3 Private First Class and was awarded Good Conduct Medal and if my memory serves me and was stationed at Ft Knox , Kentucky.
Max's jumping career started at some DZ whose name I forget in N.J in 1968. Max made a lot of jumps at Lakewood, N.J but would also travel to the Herd DZ at New Hanover in eastern Pennsylvania. When Lakewood DZ closed in 1985 he like most of us sort of migrated to the Ranch in Gardiner N.Y. Max moved to Florida I think in 1993 where Skydive City became his DZ until he finished off his jumping career in 2006 with about 7800 jumps.
Max lived in the Bronx and later in Rockland county north of NYC and worked in NYC repairing the big industrial boilers doing welding etc of the various tubing inside them, I don't know the exact trade it would be called. He got a rather serious burn one time on his chest and upper right arm from an accident at work and had to wear a special mesh undershirt until the skin healed although there was some residual scarring. Max's shorter left leg was initially caused when he fell off one of the boilers and injured his left hip but knowing Max he probably ignored it and did not get proper treatment eventually the hip displaced
and he solved the problem by going to a shoe maker and having them make about a 5 inch sole for his shoes or sneakers. Despite the pain his left hip and leg must have caused
him , he insisted on getting a manual transmission when he finally got his new Toyota Corolla in 2005.
I guess if there was one thing all of us associate with Max was his white 1974 Volkswagen Beetle which he kept until 2005 , replacing about 3 engines along the way so I imagine the car probably had north of 600 K miles on it. Max had removed the right passenger seat and installed a wooden platform from the front to the back seat area which served as his bed when he traveled to different drop zones. In about 1994 he would come up to the Ranch in Gardiner from Zephyrhills to jump in cooler weather. Anyway I got up to the Ranch midday on a Friday to jump for the weekend and Max is tinkering with his VW. He had a rebuilt engine shipped via UPS to the DZ and I got talked into helping him install it using only the car jack and a bunch of wooden blocks. The standard greeting for a jumper who may not have seen him in a few years was " Max how are you doing, do you still have that white VW". At the end Max's WV was only running on 3 cylinders and the putt putt sound would announce Max's arrival when he was still a half mile from Skydive City. Max would occasionally repaint the car using boat paint and a brush. The car after 31 years was in such bad shape I personally thought it was worth about $25 but Max drove it up to the annual "Bug Fest" in Dade City and said he got about $300 from some VW enthusiast who wanted it for some body parts no longer available. Max did mention one time that he had
a VW camper van before he had the VW Beetle. Here is an image to consider Max in his VW camper van with a peace symbol on the side and him in bell bottoms and tie dyed tee shirt with a big floppy hat up at Woodstock in N.Y. you never know, did anyone actually ever see Max before 1968 LOL.
Max made an impression on everyone who met him over the years even if only shortly. I remember on more than one occasion a jumper would show up at some DZ and come up to Max saying the usual " Max how are you, do you still have that white VW" and relate how they jumped with him back maybe 15 years ago at some DZ and Max would have no clue who the jumper was but go along and engage in a lively conversation with the person.
I'm sure there are a million funny stories involving Max so I'll briefly relate 2 of them from the 1998 WFC in Quincy, Ill. The specialty aircraft usually had their own landing area
sometime miles from Quincy airport. Max due to his bum left hip used to jump a big PD-260 F-111. Max ,myself and 2 friends from the Ranch got on a Ford Tri-Motor load along with whatever number it took to fill the plane. Mike McGowan from Eloy filmed our 4 way exit at 7500 feet and we did a normal RW jump and break-off.
After landing and talking about the jump for about 5 minutes every one slowly starts to walk toward the transport truck to take us back to the airport when we notice Max is missing. A panic sets in and discussion goes back and forth,
did you see him track off, did you see him open, did you see his canopy etc. Mind you we are on the ground about 10 minutes at this point before someone thought to look up and there is Max happily floating at about 2500 feet in a thermal. In case you think I exaggerate I also have a PD-260 and about 10 years ago I got in a thermal column over Chancey road and had some fun staying in the column and was 1/2 hour under canopy before my crotch started to hurt too much from the
leg straps. The thermal column was well away from the jump run opening area.
Another Quincy story, the Bell 412 helicopter landing area was about 6 miles from the airport and I guess Max forgot that we were supposed to land in the special landing area and started to head towards the main airport 6 miles away, he almost made it the entire way after opening at 2500 feet.
Max had done some mountaineering during his younger days of peaks in Europe including the Matterhorn in Switzerland. While at the 1998 WFC in Quincy,Illinois I mentioned to him as long as he was halfway across the country he should take a drive and visit some places like Yellowstone National Park or the Grand Canyon. After the Convention was over he said he would indeed head out west and I headed back to Florida. After about 2 weeks I decided to call Max and see how his trip was, no answer, week 3 no answer, week 4 no answer, finally about
week 6 I got him at home and found out he had visited Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park where he climbed on a guided climb to the top of Grand Teton Peak
elevation 13,775 feet above seal level with his bum left hip and at age 67. He also visited Grand Canyon and maybe a few other places I forget. He did a couple of years worth of sight seeing in 6 weeks, sleeping in his VW beetle no doubt for most of trip.
Skydive City jumpers ask Judy Redvers or myself the secret method developed by Max to avoid unnecessarily spending hundreds of dollars on relining when the canopy goes out of trim. Sally at Paragone Rigging may be especially interested in this innovative method.
Max was part of the first POPS 8 way star back on August,18,1974 at Fort Bragg. He additionally was part of a POPs altitude record with Lew Sanborn D #1
of 35,200 feet set at Zephyrhills, Florida on April, 2, 1995.
I mentioned in previous-mails that I have a limited address book so feel free to forward this to anyone you might think might have known Max especially
you old farts out there in POPS/ SOS/JOS etc. Max not wanting to burden anyone prepaid his funeral arrangements over 10 years ago. There was some initial anxiety because the original contract was with a now defunct funeral home. Fortunately Hodges Family Funeral Home in Zephyrhills researched the location of the contract and will honor the terms of the previous funeral home.
The funeral arrangement in broad terms are a service at Hodges followed by internment in Bushnell National Cemetery.
I received a call from Germany at 06:15 hours 29 June 2010 and was able to notify Max's half brother of his situation
while Max was still alive. Thanks to the Bundes Polizei and the Niedersachen Polizei in Schneverdigen for their help in making the notification to Max's half brother. Keep checking your e-mail for final funeral arrangements and location s.
We are all going to miss Max, and although he is not Irish the link below is to an old Irish song called"The Parting Glass" sometimes sung
by the mourners at grave side to give the departed a final send off. The lyrics which are poignant come about mid way through the short video.