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  1. How a Skip Heard, Dave Burrus, and Bill Onchen? John Mincher
  2. I'm sorry to hear of Don's passing. He made a hit down here in Texas. Here's a picture of him helping us win our Texas team trophy for the year, circa 1978. He's front row center. Sorry, I can't figure out how to attach the picture. But, you can see it on my Facebook page:
  3. Hi Aggie Dave, I can’t tell you when the pea gravel target was put in at Coulter Field. I can tell you that we were jumping at Hearne, Caldwell, and Millican the 4 years I was at A&M from 66 through 70. We had a pretty large target in Hearne. In those days of target accuracy, a DZ didn’t rate much if there wasn’t a target. I had heard that A&M jumped Coulter before I was there. The club disbanded in 70 because a girl named Darlene went in shortly after a near miss from a fatality by Houston jumper,Gary Hall. He streamered in and lived to tell about it. Here is how that all evolved, and it’s kind of important to the start of large RW in Texas. As I said in another post, Skip Heard and Dave Burrows ran the club in 66-68. We had a C195. Everybody in Houston, Dallas, and at A&M were trying for a 5 man star at that time. CG Wallace in Houston had C195 and a couple of guys from there, Tim Hinkle and Don Devenny, came periodically to help us. A DC# owner, I think friends of Skip and Dave and Tim and Don, brought his plane up to Hearne. A large crowd from Houston came. We did a couple of jumps from 16,500 ft. Don lit up the first joint I ever saw on the way up. The airplane owner wanted to make a 60 second delay on his first jump. Skip taught him, and he made a successful jump. It surely caused a big stink among the Texas Parachute Councel, though. He brought it another weekend, and the Houston bunch came again. The weather was lousy, so we all flew down to Mexico and went to Boy’s Town. Now, that was a party! Anyway, all this had an effect on our wanting to do large stars. The club passed to our younger generation. Mike Melvin, RIP, and I jumped Gary Lewis’s J3 Cub many afternoons for $.50 a jump. It was target accuracy from 1800 ft. We got flying lessons while we cut class, flying over to Somerville Lake to buzz fishermen and run deer and cows and flew along the Brazos River bottom. The turns were scary. We found some good duck hunting places, too. Too bad Gary’s dad took the airplane away, so we would study more. We made some trips to Valley Mills for meets and got to know those folks well. The old man Lafferty had been running the dropzone and had recently died. Mrs Lafferty was still running it and had the help of her jumping kids, Bobby, Danny, and Merilee. Drinking to the Good Cardinal Puff was popular then. We met Charles Waters, Jack Peck, Clark Thurman, and others. Meanwhile, back at Aggieland Gary Lewis got married to Elaine and decided to buy a Twin Beech. That plane got the name, White Whale. He needed some income, and we all wanted to make stars. We took the club to Caldwell and later to Millican. Caldwell is where Gary and a couple of others packed an unmodified 28 ft for my main. Later in V-mills I got him back. I turned his PC around backwards. It gave him a malfunction. I’d have been sorry if he had gotten killed, but he didn’t. the guy’s got 9 lives. Millican is where Gary dynamited trees and graded a runway with a rise in the middle. One time on takeoff, Gary had to shut the Twin Beech down because of a stray cow on the runway. He was so PO’ed that he killed the cow. He found out the hard way that cattle rustling is still a serious offence in Texas! Anyway, that’s when Darlene got killed, and that ended Aggie jumping for a few years. Gary moved the plane to Valley Mills, and the rest is history you can read at the first of these Valley Mills Texas History posts. The only other thing I’d like to add is about our first 5 man star. Pat Works has a thread here at about the first 5 man stars being made in Texas. Anita Howe, Phil Mayfield, Pat, and I were trading emails about it. I wrote an email about ours. Here’s is how it went. Hi Anita, Pat, and Phil, My first 5-way was at Hearne, Texas while I was still at A&M. It was out of Gary Lewis's "new" Twin Beech. Date: 4-19-69. The largest one so far had been a 3-way. There were only 5 jumpers on the plane. The fifth one in was going to do style, but decided to watch us 4 instead. I don't think we really knew what we were doing! But, 3 weeks later we held the first Texas RW meet that I know of. I got to make the rules. The score would count even if the formation was tumbling! We won first place and actually got another 5 man. John There are many more stories before I have to start making them up. John Mincher SCR 422
  4. Hi Dave, I might be able to help you a little about the fatality at A&M. I didn't know the guy, and I don't remember any details. I think it was a no-pull. I didn't know about any plaque. It happened in 66. I went to a club meeting just after it happened, and they said they were going to suspend any student training for a while. So I started jumping in 1967. Skip Heard and Dave Burrows ran the operation with a Cessna 195. They had gotten pretty safety conscious by then. The only one I'm still in contact with from then is Gary Lewis. He'll be at our reunion on April 17th. Maybe you want to come? Send me a personal email if you want. John Mincher Aggie Class 1970 SCR 422 [email protected]
  5. One time when the Beech quit on the way up, Phil Mayfield looked at me and, I believe, Paul Middleton, and said "Let's make a 3 man." I didn't know how high up we were, but we said Ok anyway. We jumped out and I caught Phil pretty fast. As Paul was coming in I could read his altimeter on his chest reserve. It said 900 ft. He was there by 800 where we broke off and dumped. As it turned out, only one fuel tank was empty on the Beech. The pilot's name escapes me, but I went to A&M with him, and I heard he was killed a few years later in a plane crash. John
  6. Hi Don, I'm glad for that statute of limitations. I'm just glad nobody got killed. What I remember about the beginning of Cleveland was that Gary Lewis introduced me to Bob Geohagen, the airport manager. The only thing going on at the time was his C172 airplane training for the locals, so he wanted more activity. Harvey Stewart pushed things along by buying Gary's C180, that he later crashed, which we jumped along with the 172, and he got Dave Boatman to bring in Metro Airline's Twin Otter for a weekend. For quite a while, we waited on the White Whale, Gary's Twin Beech, that also later crashed, and Gary's DC3 to get ready. I trained students from gear I got from Boatman till you and Carl came along. I think you bought that gear. I'm glad you took over the student training, because I wasn't cut out for it. I really wasn't cut out for the dropzone management either, as you know because of all the outlaw stories. I was afraid the law might find me responsible if something bad happened. I couldn't keep myself above a grand, much less get everybody thinking safety. My one and only real safety meeting went something like this: Some California guys were in town. We were really having a good party. It looked like too much party! I called a safety meeting that noone wanted to come to. The Cessna had just taken off with Phil Mayfield and his wife, Lynn, and a couple of others for Lynn's first 10 second delay. Meanwhile down on the ground, everybody came around and Dave Boatman, group spokesman, asked me to give an example as to why I thought we needed a safety meeting. We stopped the conversation long enough to see Phil and the bunch leave the plane and make a 4 man with Lynn as her automatic opener went off along with her main. I pointed up and said, "That's why!" John
  7. Hey Don, I remember Jesse shooting the machine gun at night, bouncing the tracer bullets off the runway. Man, the colors spun off in many directions. Of course, the chemicals made it look exadurated! I will never forget the Wizzard catching himself on fire. It's a good thing he tripped so everyone could jump on him to put the fire out. He was pretty soaked. Too bad he fell down the elevator shaft on the job. He was a lot of fun. I think we discovered that the rotating beacon was rideable at Spaceland. I remember jumping out of the Twin Beech after the plane ran out of fuel and it crashing at Cleveland. Too bad. What else do you remember? John
  8. Hi Gregg and Fritz, I started to run the 1st V-Mills team facts by you before I posted it. Since I wasn't there, I got my info from the picture with 8 of you from another thread. I would post that picture, but I don't know how to do it. Can you do that, Gregg? I thought it was a 10 man speed star event. Why did you and 1 other miss out on the picture, Fritz? John Mincher
  9. Hey Greg, Thanks for the correction. Sorry, Anita. You are my favorite. John
  10. I've seen threads about Spaceland, Texas and the big-way RW that went on and still goes on there. I have not seen the history behind it. I want to tell some of that history and hopefully some of my friends will add to it. Relative Work started maturing in a town called Valley Mills, Texas, just north of Waco. It was there that an Aggie jumping buddy of mine, Gary Lewis, brought his Twin Beech, giving the drop zone new life. Can you imagine a college boy buying a Twin Beech to operate at a college club? Anyway, Valley Mills was in the center of the state, so jumpers from Waco, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston could get there on weekends. We developed such a family unity that it still lasts today. We started trying for 8 Man stars at A&M in Millican. One weekend on 7-05-70 Gary flew “The White Whale” to Coleman, Texas. The first 8 man star was made there by Ron Patterson, SCR 373, Phil Mayfield, Curran Phillips, Ric Schwandt, Dennis Clark, Chris Ranson, Jim Sutton, Jack Langford, and Jesse Hall in that SCR order. By one year later Texas had 44 SCR numbers in it, almost exclusively in Valley Mills. It wasn't long before a Twin Beech wasn't enough, so Gary bought a DC3. By that time people were coming from all over Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Tennessee to join in on the bigger stars and the good times we were having. It was at Valley Mills that the first Texas 8 man team started. They went to Z-Hills as the V-Mills team and won first place. The team was David Arrington, Ron Cox, Jack Peck, Phil Mayfield, “Dirty Fred” Grant, Charles Waters, Gary Lewis, and Greg Hackett. The team evolved through the years to become known as the Texas Team and later Kalidoscope. Valley Mills only lasted a couple of years, but large star skydiving made its entrance to Texas. We made it to at least 16 man stars. After a couple of fatalities, the pressure was on to shut it down. Looking back I would say it wasn't the most safety oriented dropzone. It got so commonplace for the Beech to have to unload early that on the way up one day, someone mentioned the words “get out” in an innocent conversation, and everybody unassed the plane. After a time Gary moved the DC3 to Cleveland where he introduced me to the airport manager. I ran the dropzone, and Gary operated the plane. I'd have to make the same safety comment about Cleveland. We were just lucky. We made a 22 man star there, along with a lot of 10 man speed stars, guns, parties, 16 mans, mushrooms, and other large attempts. In 1974 the 10 man speed star team that went to the Telequah Nationals was Jesse Hall, Phil Smith, Phil Mayfield, Greg Hackett, Ken Gillespie, David Arrington, Dave Boatman, Fritz Jackson, Vaughn Ruple, and myself. Dave Boatman had previously brought a Twin Otter to Dickinson and Cleveland for larger attempts. So, about this time, he buys a Twin Beech, and after Eric Wizowatty shot out the runway lights, we got asked to leave Cleveland. I always wondered about the timing, but I got to be a regular jumper again. That was good because I was sure that sooner or later someone would be getting themselves killed at Cleveland. We were on borrowed time. So a new name, Boatman Hall Ltd, moved the jumping to Spaceland Airport. That place is now a residential neighborhood. Sad. Now Spaceland DZ is in Rosharon and is a big business. Anyway, Dave would teach you something about life if you pulled too low. We did sneak off and have our “safety meetings”, though. In 1976 as 10 man speed star went “professional”, a new competition started, 8 man sequential. On this team were Ron Cox, Phil Smith, Phil Mayfield, Greg Hackett, Ken Gillespie, Wayne Mosley, John Shannon, Bobby Brown, and myself. We had 9 on it. John Shannon could take anyone’s slot if necessary. By that time Austin, Dallas, and Houston all had Twin Beeches. The team would split weekends in those places because we had team members from all of them. We would all camp out or pile into someone’s apartment on Saturday nights. I remember “Plug-In” and “Pigmy-Mau-Mau-California Style” as popular pastimes. We went to the state of Washington to the Sequential Sweepstakes and got second place in the nation. First place won by 1 point and went on to Australia to win the world. Over the years the team saw other people on it, Fritz Jackson, Dave Bottrell, Ed Wescott, Robert Armstrong, Dane Nielson, Johnny Shannon, Dwayne Bruette, Bobby Brown, Bill Minyard, and I’m sure I’ve missed some. Some other names worthy of notation, that made “As The Prop Turns” stories are Harvey Stewart, Dotty Stewart, Sandy Roberts Mincher, Cathy Bennett, Renny, Patsy Boatman, Jonathan Phillips, Lee Umpscheid, Sean Ferguson, Sarah, Robert Bottrell, Sandy Lewis, Kenny Patterson, Rita Patterson, Jim McIntyre, Bob “Spiderman” Vincent, Mike Vincent, Lee McMillan, Joe Stone, Tim Geohagen, Alvin Heathcock, Jack Moore, Cathy Minster, Lynn Mayfield, Mike Mullins, Gary Hall, Bobby Hilder, Howell Ponton, Ric Miller, Robert Bottrell, Elaine Lewis, Cathy Cox, Ron Lugenbill, Tom Bullion, Mike Babbineaux, Jim Baker, Jim Captain, Matt Farmer, Kent Farney, Paul Middleton, Cully Lyons, Eddie Flores, Mike Flores, Bruce Cunningham, Chris Ranson, Craig Ranson, Greg Nugent, Bob Pope, Steve Hazen, Clark Thurman, Mike Mullins, Marrilee Lafferty, Bobby Lafferty, Don Henderson, Bill Newell, Vernon Melancon, Rick Hankel, Rick Schwandt, Martin Bennett, Don Stewart, Carl Maroon, Mark Conrad, Rick Spigarilli, Greg Giles, Joe Svec, and I’m sure I’ve missed some more. John Mincher SCR 422
  11. Man, Did you guys look different then. I got all of you correct, though. John Mincher
  12. Hi Jim, I just found this website, so I'm a little late replying. (3 years late!) I'll take a stab at naming everyone. It's definately the Valley Mills team that won first place in Z-Hills, Fl in about 1970 or 71. Starting upper left and going clockwise: David Arrington, RIP, Ron Cox, Jack Peck, Phil Mayfield, "Dirty Fred" Grant, Greg Hackett, Gary Lewis, and I think, Charlie Waters. These guys were the core of RW competition in Texas. Four of these remained as the team evolved through the next several years of Texas #1 team dynasty and big way dives through 79 or 80. I was part of them as the Texas Team and Kalidoscope. Great times. Great brothers. John Mincher SCR 422 [email protected]
  13. Hi DRJUMP, I've also got a log book with a 22 man star over Cleveland dated March 17, 1974. I've even got the manifest for the DC3 on that day. I ran the drop zone. This wasn't the first 20 man in Texas, though. That one was in Caddo Mills on June 10, 1973. That one is in my book, too. I don't remember any big ways in Magregor. We made several team 8 ways on Kalidoscope. I'm the guy with the mustache in the black jump suit on the left. What is your name? We have a reunion coming up on April 17th if you are interested. John Mincher SCR 422 [email protected]