Aging Gracefully: Skydive Elsinore Celebrates 60 Years
A Parachutist Photo Essay
Some say that aging gracefully is hard. But on Saturday, November 10, Skydive Elsinore in California showed that time is on its side and age is just a number as it celebrated 60 years of top-notch skydiving at the drop zone’s home, Skylark Airfield. Current, former and aspiring jumpers flocked to the event. Among them was Larry Perkins, the son of the drop zone’s founder, Cy Perkins, who on March 1, 1958, took a skydiver (whose name is lost to time) up in his Cessna 172 and let him fall out.
The celebration started early with the DZ’s two Cessna Caravans getting wheels up at 8 a.m. for a formation load. The jumpers, led by Josh Hall, formed a perfect "60” in the sky to kick off the event. Following that accomplishment, seven 10-way teams met for a briefing for a good, ol’ fashioned 10-way speedstar competition. The rules were simple: Make single-file, no-show exits from a Twin Otter, dive fast and build the star as quickly as you can. Judges applied handicaps to the scores so that all levels of skydivers could join in on the fun. Despite his team’s not getting any time advantage because all team members had more than 1,000 jumps, Josh Winoker led team Cluster Thunder From Down Under to victory.
Karl Gulledge, who has owned and operated Skydive Elsinore for 25 years, spent the day visiting with alumni who once made Skydive Elsinore their home on the weekends. Operations Director Daniella Martin set up a museum of sorts featuring items that came from near and far, including Perkins-family treasures from the early days of the DZ. Legendary photographer and Elsinore alumnus Ray Cottingham provided photographs from over the years that the DZ presented as a slide show for everyone to enjoy.
Also, attending the event was Chris Curl and his wife, Judy. Chris was the stepson of Frank Curl, who made his first skydive at Elsinore on November 9, 1963. Chris shared his stepfather’s memories of the drop zone by bringing along his photos, log books and equipment from the early days. He also presented the DZ with Frank’s helmet, which now hangs over the tiki bar. In a touching gesture, Judy made a tandem skydive and released the last of Frank’s ashes over one of his favorite places. Frank Curl finally came home to rest.
Following dinner and cake, the jumpers enjoyed visiting and sharing old stories. To cap off the evening, they watched “Skydive” and “Masters of the Sky,” movies filmed at Elsinore by the iconic freefall filmmaker Carl Boenish. The films—like the drop zone—have stood the test of time.
Mary SantAngelo | D-9944