Skydiving — Lesson 1

Hi all,

I have said one of my longtime passions is skydiving, so I want to introduce all non-skydivers to my sport. July is a busy jumping month for me with 4 weekends of boogies* and planned jumping events.

First, a little history of the sport borrowed from Parachuting: The Skydiver’s Handbook, by Dan Poynter and Mike Turoff, as printed at

People have been using parachutes for hundreds of years, even back to China in the 1100s. Around 1495, Leonardo DaVinci designed a pyramid-shaped, wooden framed parachute that Adrian Nichols jumped in the late 20th century. It descended slowly enough to land, but Nichols worried the heavy contraption might crush him to death. So at a safe altitude, he released from it and landed under his reserve.

The modern history of the sport began in the late 18th century with Jacques Garnerin from France who performed display jumps from balloons flying over Europe. Later in the 19th century, women, who still number only between 15 and 20 percent among skydivers, began to appear on the scene. Kathe Paulus from Germany jumped professionally in Germany around the turn of the 20th century. Tiny Broadwick, another professional parachutist in the U.S., became the first woman to jump from an airplane in 1913 and the first to make a freefall in 1914.

So the sport has been around for some time. I started in 1985 when the square parachute was first being widely used, slowly replacing the military round seen in the WWII movies. (My first jump was on one of these!)

Before showing you pictures and describing my latest events we need to talk terminology.

*Boogie – a skydiving event centered around daytime fun skydiving and nighttime party.
Learn more at:

Wuffo – An endearing label of a non-skydiver (What for you jump out of a perfectly good airplane?)

Rig – Complete parachute set-up including container and 2 parachutes

Canopy – Parachute

Point – A skydiving formation

Sequential – A series of points

DZ – Drop Zone, an airport where skydiving takes place

XX-way – Number of jumpers in a formation, i.e., 36-way

38-way Freedom Boogie. Photo by Henrik Csüri.

38-way Freedom Boogie. Photo by Henrik Csüri.

38-way Freedom Boogie. Photo- Henrik Csüri

38-way Point 2. Photo by Henrik Csüri

July 4th weekend – Freedom Boogie, Skydive Chicago (SDC – my home DZ). I brought in a guest organizer to help put together 38-way sequential formations. Roger Ponce deLeon started jumping when only 16, has 45 years in the sport with 12,752 jumps, and been traveling the world organizing small groups to world record formations with his unique style of formation dives.

We had 3 days of cloudy skies, but ended up with 10 great jumps from 14,000 feet, doing 2-3 points per jump. This was an invitational event utilizing mostly local jumpers, but hosting skydivers from Iowa, New Mexico, and even Canada.


Finale! Photo by T. J. Hine

Finale! Photo by T. J. Hine

Finale Still! Photo by T. J. Hine

Finale Still! Photo by T. J. Hine

Pizza party Thursday night and a BBQ for 45 on Saturday evening followed by a terrific fireworks display put on by DZO (Drop Zone Owner) Rook Nelson and his staff

July 10-13, I traveled to East Stroudsburg, PA, to be part of the Sky’s the Limit 40-way Boogie, again organized by Roger and longtime organizer Lou Tommaso. We fought the weather again, but managed another 12 jumps going to 17,000 feet for 6 of those jumps. With help from local jumper Dawn Pavlu, we set 4 PA state records:

Largest Formation – 39
Largest Sequential – 2-pt 36-way
Largest Sequential – 3-pt 20-way
Largest Sequential – 4-pt 18-way

Each night after jumping we BBQ’d fresh pork sausage, beef sausage, steaks, and lamb from Lou’s farm. We may not be making a lot of jumps, but we are gaining weight for the food!

20-way Sky's the Limit Boogie. Photo by August Haeuser

20-way Sky’s the Limit Boogie. Photo by August Haeuser

20-way Sky's the Limit Boogie. Photo by August Haeuser

20-way Sky’s the Limit Boogie. Photo by August Haeuser

Next up: 3-day 8-way training camp and Summerfest. More on these events in Lesson 2.

T. J.


This entry was posted in Skydiving.

One Comment

  1. Mrs Cheese July 23, 2014 at 9:43 pm #

    Nice Job T.!!! I’ll be excited to see what else you come up with in the blog!!!! Anything to help the wuffo’s understand more skydiving stuff, the better…!
    AND, I think Lisa needs to try more Ice Cream desserts – of course, we’re always available for testing…!

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