Bob Sinclair, USPA member #4778, passed away November 20 at age 87. Though he never served on the USPA Board and was never honored with any USPA achievement award, Bob Sinclair managed to influence skydiving in ways that few ever do. His first jump was a military static-line at Ft. Benning, Georgia, in 1945, and he never looked back, joining the Parachute Club of America in 1957, earning C-59 the next year and D-272 in 1963. He accumulated over 2,800 jumps along the way. He began performing paid jumps at airshows, fairs, carnivals and “dog races,” as he once described. When other skydivers began doing demonstration jumps for free, he gravitated to Hollywood for skydiving stunt work for films and TV shows, including the TV series “Ripcord.”
In the early 1960s, when static-line jumps were the only way to learn skydiving, he and others developed a “buddy system” training method where a single jumpmaster took a first-jump student on a freefall jump. In 1968 he famously took Johnny Carson on a buddy jump, and subsequently Sinclair and a film of the jump were featured on a “Tonight Show” segment. Little known is Sinclair’s claim that he took “hundreds” of VIPs and Hollywood-types on buddy system first jumps.
Sinclair didn’t let age slow him down, earning jumpmaster and instructor ratings in the early 1980s. In Florida in 1992, he was on the very first Skydivers Over Sixty 10-way, the event that started SOS. He remained a jumper’s jumper to the end, spending his last years in Florida and sharing his love for the sport with anyone willing to share the air or just swap stories. Bob Sinclair’s last jump will be an ash dive set during the April 16-19 POPS Springfest at the Florida Skydiving Center. Blue skies and fair winds, Bob Sinclair.