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    Formation Skydiving
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    BASE Jumping

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  1. nightBASE1

    Valley Mills, Texas History

    Not much to add without checking my log book, but the first dominant RW team in Texas (based at Valley Mills) was the V-Mills Texans. The V-Mills team went to the Z-Hills Turkey Meet in the early 70's ('73 or '74?) and beat all comers for the big prize. Other teams included the James Gang (Bob Federman, Jim Bohr, Pirate, etc.), the local faves (captained by Jim Hooper), and a number of other good quality teams. That was back in the days when if you could average under 30 seconds for a 10-man (not "10-way"), you would probably win. And nearly everyone still jumped rounds and front-mounted reserves. It wasn't until late '75 or early '76 that focus went from 10-man speed to 8-man sequential, as RWers were getting bored with race-to-the-base jumping. Then Z-Hills - always a few steps ahead of USPA's Nationals - added to their agenda for the Turkey Day meet with separate events for 10-speed, 8-sequential, 16-sequential, and 20-speed. I was lucky enough to be invited on Jerry Bird's team for the '77 meet. Since a Texas team wasn't in the works at that time, I quit my job just to spend a week or so in skydivers' paradise. That' still my all-time favorite meet. Backing up to some points John made, V-Mills was the perfect storm of right place, right time, right jumpers. It was truly our own little world for a few short years, where we could forgot about the "real world" for many happy weekend adventures. And we made life-long friends from Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and other places. Phil Mayfield - SCR 374
  2. nightBASE1

    Safety as a practice; survival is an art

    I couldn't say it any better. Eyes aren't prone to immediate and unannounced failure that sometimes happen (albeit rarely) with altimeters, stopwatches, audio alerts, etc. I always taught my students to not trust anything, equipment-wise, that had moving parts. I remember several times when my Altimaster was hundreds of feet off by the time I hit the ground. Usually it was because of getting bumped on a tight exit. C-5871
  3. nightBASE1

    Safety as a practice; survival is an art

    My early experiences were eerily similar to Richard's. Jumps 1-3 (March, 1969): static lines from 2,500' using cheapo (28' 5-TU or 5-double L) Jump 4: Cleared for FF and bribed my instructor and another experienced jumper to build a 3-man (not "3-way") around me. Cool! Jumps 5-27: 30-45 second delays practicing RW with hook-ups & 3-man stars. Jump 28: Went to jump at the local USPA DZ (Dallas Skydivers at Segoville, Texas), and the ASO, Jerry Schrimsher, made me do two more static lines or I couldn't jump there. They hated people from Cedar Hill, so this was an up-yours, but I did it just to be able to jump there, which I knew pissed them off. A few months later, I needed a water jump to qualify for my C license, and selected a pond near the DZ. It was 12/17/69. The ambient temp was warm (60's or 70's), but the water temp felt like it was freezing when I landed in the middle of the pond. Like Economy, my cheapo settled down over me and I immediately got tangled in my lines as I was gasping for air and bobbing up and down from surface to the bottom (8' or so). At the age of 17, it was the first time in my life that I thought it was all over and I was about to die. I hollered "HELP!" to my buddy on the shore, who just laughed his ass off, snapping photos. I was infuriated that my last seconds of life would be documented by a moron not taking my dire circumstances seriously. I leaned shoreward with each hop/bob, drenched and exhausted, and miraculously struggled to shallower water, where I was able to drag my "near-death rig" to shore. I caught my breath before blasting my buddy for his willingness to so casually let me expire. He still thought it was hilarious!
  4. nightBASE1


  5. nightBASE1

    Safety as a practice; survival is an art

    I see that your D license number is a lot lower than mine (2629), although you've only been in the sport for less than half the time. Did USPA start over, or is that a Canadian D? Regarding Paradactyls, the slowest descending canopy I ever jumped was an old 35' T-10 I used for awhile after gutting the lines (skirt-to-skirt). No forward speed, but on calm days, it was very gentle on the ankles! SCS 36
  6. nightBASE1

    Safety as a practice; survival is an art

    Re: Early Daze -- input from a jumper from 1961 I started in '69, and it wasn't very different from what you guys experienced in the early sixties. My first canopy was an orange/white flat, unmodified, and I created my own 5-Double L mod. B4 and belly mount. Pig rigs hadn't been around very long, and none of the Cedar Hill Outlaws (Dallas area) had them. They were for sissies, and everyone knew they were harder to fall stable in. When size and weight started being important to me, I gutted the 550 lb. test lines from skirt to skirt, which eliminated a bunch of pack volume and made the openings softer. Then we'd use the gutted nylon for repairs like those described in Depreguy's note. We also used it for tying static lines (50 lb. test, per thread). Waste not, want not. Only rookies and nerds actually used the stopwatch/altimeter "soup can" combo at our RW oriented DZ, where your eyes were considered to be perfectly acceptable for altitude awareness. Never lost a soul until a low-jump wonder came over from the USPA DZ (Seagoville) and bounced on our turf. To be more like my hero Jerry Bird (he had no Capewells on his harness), I opted for two-shot Capewells instead of the newer/easier 1.5 shot versions. Mr. Cool! Then I had a malfunction and could only get one side undone, so I deployed under a streamering line-over. By the next weekend I had new shot-and-a-halfs on my rig and a more humble attitude. BTW - I believe the average "conventional" rig (military harness/container, main & reserve) weighed 40-45 lb, depending on the main canopy (cheapo or PC). The last "conventional" rig I had included a Pop-Top reserve, allowing me to track much faster. After winning my tracking contest heat at the original Stumbles (Elsinore), Hank Asciutto made me an offer I couldn't refuse to wear one of his new Piglets in the Tracking Finals, which I won. Otherwise, I might've been using belly warts for awhile longer. Compared to PC's, those Piglets were lighter, smaller, and cooler. They probably had the same rate of descent, but we all swore they landed softer. I always wanted to jump one of those Paradactyls, which I believe still may be the slowest descending canopies ever made. But I never had the chance. I wonder if any have survived in jumpable condition. Later, SCS 36