Back-Tracking —A Parachutist Anniversary Series
“Being a 50-year-old non-flying person married to a man severely bitten by the skydive bug last year, I wondered what I would find to do every weekend at the DZ. But from first load to last load every Saturday and Sunday, the DZ is the most energetic and enthusiastic place I have ever spent time hanging around. There’s always something exciting going on.
It’s particularly nice to watch first-time students come down and then celebrate their success with their families. It’s colorful to photograph landings and see the faces of tandem students through 300mm lenses. It’s interesting to learn how to flat pack and PRO pack. It’s fun to watch a group dirt dive and then watch the videos to see how much of their plan they accomplished. It’s satisfying to watch students progress toward their A and B licenses and their first rigs.
Before long, you know 100 people and the difference between a Twin Otter, a King Air and a Cessna. Words like boogie and Z-Po have crept into your vocabulary. You start listening on Monday night for the next weekend’s weather forecast, hoping for blue skies and wind speeds under 15 mph.
In the past, I’d been involved in training competitive sports hobbies where adults cried or threw tantrums or sued when they didn’t win. No one laughed at the proliferation of t-shirts that said, “Are We Having Fun Yet?” So for me, the best thing about the DZ is that it is just a happy, friendly place to be where all the participants are truly having fun.”
Pretty Prairie, Kansas
from Parachutist, July 1999
On his wedding day in 1974, Maytown Sport Parachute Club member Dave Garber faces a difficult decision. Photo by Jerry Irwin.
Over Elsinore in 1970, photographer Ray Cottingham gives us his point of view of a large star that included Jerry Bird, Dick Gernand, Hal Hurley, Mike Milts and Joe Morgan. Photo by Ray Cottingham.
Instructors Lew Sanborn and Jacques Istel gear up a student in front of the manifest board at Orange Sport Parachute Center in Massachusetts in 1959. Standing in the background is instructor Steve Boyle.
Kevin Brady, Dr. Frank Guzman and Fred Wild of the Long Island Skydivers pose after a New Year’s jump. Though they exited in 1965, they landed in 1966, and a bottle of champagne took the place of the baton.
The U.S. Army Parachute Team practices with smoke high above Orange, Massachusetts. Photo by Joe Gonzales.
Nap time is always more fun with 399 of your closest friends.