Archive for the ‘members’ Category

Jacques-André Istel

January 6, 2009

We all have different reasons for starting skydiving, but why do we stick around? For me personally, and I know for a lot of you, it’s the people. Unique, eccentric, crazy, loony, loving, wild, different, open—call us what you will, but our sport has some seriously colorful characters. Working at USPA, I’ve been privileged to hear stories of some of the most amazing, starting with the father of modern skydiving, Jacques-André Istel, D-2. You may have read the News blurb about him this week, but his involvement in skydiving is only part of his fascinating life.

Mike Anton of the L.A. Times wrote a great piece on Mr. Istel last April, Desert monument captures history on stone. Read the whole article if you’ve got a minute, but here’s a quick excerpt:

Istel has always zigged where others zagged. He is a tireless wayfarer with an insatiable curiosity and no tolerance for boredom, who has pingponged through life like a character in a picaresque novel.

He fled Paris with his family in advance of the Nazis. He hitchhiked across the U.S. when he was 14. After a stint in the Marine Corps, he chucked a career on Wall Street to take up parachuting – which he learned by leaping from a plane with virtually no instruction. He eventually fathered the sport of sky diving [sic] in America. Later, having grown antsy running a business, he circumnavigated the globe in a twin-engine airplane, at times not certain he’d make it.

In the mid-1980s, he founded the town of Felicity on about 2,800 acres of California desert. He built a marble-and-glass pyramid the size of a large garage and proclaimed it the Official Center of the World; thousands have paid a couple of bucks each to step inside, even though it’s not even the center of Imperial County. More recently, Istel moved 150,000 tons of dirt to create the nearby Hill of Prayer on which he built the Church on the Hill – even though he’s not particularly religious.

“You’ve got to admit, that’s interesting,” Istel says.

Here’s a message from the man himself, to Executive Director Ed Scott, inviting you personally to his USPA Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony:

Dear Ed;

Many thanks. Reno is not possible for me owing to prior commitments. We have a nice program planned for 14 February 2009 at Felicity and I look forward to receiving the award then. Also I look forward to your visit, that of Larry Bagley and hopefully Chris Needels; as well as any parachutists old and new who care to join us. Perhaps someone could read this message at the Reno event..

Merry Christmas and all best wishes,
Jacques

Without Jacques-André Istel, and countless others just as interesting, we’d never be able to throw ourselves out of airplanes for fun. Without them, we’d never want to stick around after jumping was over, either! If you’re anywhere near the Felicity, CA area on Valentine’s Day this year, definitely take the time to attend. Visit the Center of the World, hear some amazing stories and thank the man who fathered our great sport, Mr. Jacques-André Istel.

Nationals Champions

December 4, 2008

The 2008 Nationals results are up (finally!). Sorry for the delay, but we wanted to take full advantage of the new website to make it a bit more useful than just a static list. I think what we came up with is a nice balance of a quick loadtime and coolness. What’s really interesting is that you can click on any hyperlinked team or name and get the team members, plus any past Nationals medals they’ve won.

For example, clicking on “Airspeed” will give you a history of results for every incarnation of the infamous Arizona Airspeed FS team. Impressive, no?

So far, we only have results back through 2005 in that query system, but the goal is to get them all at least through 2002, when we first started publishing Nationals winners on our website. And, we’ll get all past results over to that cool new query system so you can start clicking away on 2005 and older results soon.

We’d love to know what you think, and what you use that page for. If there’s something you really wish you could do – on any page, not just this one – post a comment on the blog or e-mail us at webmaster@uspa.org.

Parachutist Around the World

October 24, 2008

We started this section in July 2007, and it has been a runaway hit! We knew skydivers were adventurous, but some of the places you all have been to are incredible.

We have limited space to publish the best ones in the magazine, but they all go on the Parachutist Around the World online feature. Let me just say first of all that “best” means photographically best for print magazine use – clear subject in focus, high resolution and a discernible, recognizable landmark in the background, all visible in a space about 6 inches square.

Since I put them all up on the website, I get to check them all out in detail, and some of my favorites are ones that did not make it into the magazine, or are best zoomed in on a computer screen (hint- click on any picture to see it full-size). So sit back, buckle up and let’s go on a virtual vicarious tour of the world!

Jonathan "Woolly" Charlton, D-25414, chillin' with Godzilla

Jonathan "Woolly" Charlton, D-25414, chillin' with Godzilla in Japan

Jonathan “Woolly” Charlton writes us about this picture – “Now, I don’t really really expect y’all to publish these (on account of the bizarre landmark), but, in any event, you might find them funny – these pictures were taken out front of the Yokohama Tire plant in Shinshiro, Japan.  The Godzilla was made from varying-sized Yokohama tires!”

I personally found it awesome-ly funny, Woolly, thanks for the great pic!

Jeff Sears, D-25918, and a monkey enjoy Parachustist in the Monkey Forest, Ubud Bali. Photo by Fiona Horne, A-51051.

Jeff Sears, D-25918, and a monkey enjoy Parachustist in the Monkey Forest, Ubud Bali. Photo by Fiona Horne, A-51051.

The best part of this picture is only really visible if you zoom in over Jeff’s left shoulder. Monkey! Reading Parachutist! Maybe we can teach the monkey to sit-fly, too!

Jeff Morgan, D-24891, catches up on the latest in front of Wigwam Village #2 in Cave City, Kentucky. Photo by Bert Morgan.

Jeff Morgan, D-24891, catches up on the latest in front of Wigwam Village #2 in Cave City, Kentucky. Photo by Bert Morgan.

I’ll be honest, I don’t quite get what’s going on in this picture, but I know that I like it.

Maybe we’ll organize some themes for you next time – Parachutist readers in the snow, on the water, under the water, at work, on mountains, in the military, in spaceships (seriously!) . . . But I’ll leave you with my personal favorite, if only because it’s where I want to be – living on the beach, fishing and popping up to Elsinore to make a jump every now and then:

Ed Duncan, D-37, (right) and Kelso Smith, D-13930, (left), in Ensenada, Mexico, where Ed lives. He also still skydives at Elsinore every time he gets a chance. Photo by Linda James-Smith

Ed Duncan, D-37, (right) and Kelso Smith, D-13930, (left), in Ensenada, Mexico, where Ed lives. He also still skydives at Elsinore every time he gets a chance. Photo by Linda James-Smith.

Have a safe and happy weekend!

Skydiving in USA Today

September 8, 2008

Your vote matters … bet you’ve heard that a lot lately, huh? Well your vote does matter and could help promote your favorite sport! USPA member Scotty Burns’ photo of a wingsuit jump with the space shuttle Discovery launch in the background is one of eight photos being considered for USA Today’s Reader’s Top Pick photo. Wingsuit jumpers include (left to right) Mike Masheff, Mike Swearingen and Douglas Spotted Eagle.

(left to right) Mike Masheff, Mike Swearingen and Douglas Spotted Eagle. Photo by Scotty Burns.

(left to right) Mike Masheff, Mike Swearingen and Douglas Spotted Eagle. Photo by Scotty Burns.

You can vote online once per day here: www.usatoday.com/marketing/brand_mkt/openair/photo_contest/flash.htm

Voting ends September 16, so get out and vote! The winning photo will be printed in USA Today—what a great way to show the rest of the world one part of our sport!

Oh, and watch for the October issue of Parachutist—Douglas shares the details of the jump in Pages from a Logbook.

Looking for a job?

August 19, 2008

I just heard from Northrup Grumman, one of our summer Parachutist advertisers. They needed a rocket scientist (no, really) and thought they might find one in our readers. He thought they might get at least a few bites, or someone might tell a friend, who’d tell a friend, etc.

The day he got his July issue with the first ad in it, he got 4 interested phone calls. In total, they received 18 qualified applications, about a million times the response he was hoping for! And this for a job that requires 5 years hands-on parachute engineering experience and a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering! You guys sure are smart.

So, if you’re in the market for a new job, don’t forget Parachutist classifieds and ads. You don’t even have to be a rocket scientist to find a great job. Also check out our LinkedIn group, social networking for professionals. But not you, Belinda Serabian, C-35046 – you already landed yourself an amazing job – congratulations and good luck!


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