The First 75
People | Jul 10, 2021
The First 75

USPA Staff

In 1946, when legendary exhibition jumper Joe Crane founded National Parachute Jumper-Riggers Inc., he brought with him a licensing system for parachutists that he had earlier originated. In 1947, he convinced the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (World Air Sports Federation) to adopt it. This helped give parachuting—once thought of a mere stunt for airshows—recognition as a sport. In 1952, the three-level international licensing program began in the U.S., with Crane being issued C-1. (Lew Sanborn received A-1 and a jumper by the name of A.R. Garrison, about whom little is now known, received B-1.)

When NPJR became the Parachute Club of America (with Crane retaining the presidency), the U.S. Team had become a major contender on the world stage. Crane and PCA Vice President Jacques-André Istel, then C-17, began realizing that the requirements for these licenses seemed, as they wrote to the FAI, “unrealistic for the future development of parachuting.” At the 1958 FAI meeting in Paris, Istel and Crane proposed the international D license, which the FAI eventually adopted. Among other qualifications, the license levels required the following number of jumps:

  • A: 10
  • B: 25
  • C: 75
  • D: 200

PCA issued the first D license in March 1959—the first of only five that year. Each year more and more jumpers earned the coveted designation on their membership cards. USPA recently issued D-40,000 to Matthew Teetshorn in March 2021—a little less than 62 years after former paratrooper Lew Sanborn—U.S. Parachute Team Captain and co-founder of Parachute Incorporated—received D-1.

In honor of USPA’s 75th birthday, we present you with the first 75 D-license recipients, all of whom are men. (Muriel Simbro, D-78, was the first female D-license holder):

 

D-4 Vakharia, Darius D-30 MacPherson, Allan D-45 Skinner, Robert W. D-59 Kochenburg, Dale R. 
D-6 Taylor, George P. D-32 Unziker, William J. D-46 MacPherson, Dennis H. D-61 Chace, John P.
D-7 Heisel, Christian D-33 Hulick, Gerald W. D-48 Hale, Rodger C. D-62 Ward, Richard F.
D-8 Glenn, Verlin D-34 Bahor, Erick M. D-49 Moge, Maurice R. D-64 Percival, John M.
D-14 Pyland, Ernest L. D-35 Meyers, Lee A. D-52 Murry, Robert A. D-66 Charland, Normand E.
D-17 Love, Ray D-36 Reed, Sherman W. D-53 Duncan, Edmond C. D-67 Edwards, Roy L.
D-18 Kremar, Michael D-37 Cancelled by USPA D-54 Williams, Verne D-68 Beyan, Dennis P.
D-21 Schmidt, Mark D-40 Dunphy, Richard D-55 Kilsow, Arthur D-72 Smith, Richard
D-24 Spatola, Robert D-42 Jacks, Clyde E. D-56 Brezin, Ben W.  
D-28 Elfers, William D-43 Pol, James E. D-57 Mathwig, Jerry  
D-29 Kirtley, Thomas D-44 Harding, Daniel E. D-58 Williams, Douglas E.  

 

 


Hank Simbro, D-63, and Muriel Simbro, D-78.

After searching our filing cabinets, old copies of Parachutist and digital archives, reaching out to several people in the sport and utilizing social media, we were able to locate several photos. Unfortunately, some are still missing. We were particularly curious about Darius Vakharia, D-4. We could find almost no information about him, until John Rich, D-7377, responded to a public request for information. He provided us with some news clippings that mentioned Vakharia. A mathematician, Vakharia was born in India but moved to the U.S. to attend Harvard University. He lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts and jumped with the Cambridge Parachute Club. On December 27, 1964, he died in a tragic auto accident at age 32.

Unfortunately, we still couldn’t track down any photos of Vakharia or any of those pioneering jumpers listed above. If someone out there has photos to help us fill in the blanks, please send them to communications@uspa.org, and we will publish them as they come in.

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