Twenty years ago a friend suggested that I needed to build my total time faster because my corporate job really wasn’t going to advance my career. He suggested flying skydivers like he was. I wouldn’t make a lot of money but I could log valuable flight hours in a fun, unique way. But the DZ he was flying for wouldn’t hire me. So, I took his next suggestion and drove down to Horizon Skydiving in Harrisonville, MO on Memorial Day weekend. The DZO was not there so I hung around for awhile watching the operation. I was told to come back the next weekend so I did. Upon returning the DZO Dana Savorelli talked to me and agreed to hire me to fly his Cessna 182s. But the pilot who would do the training wasn’t there so….come back next week. Not sure if this was a test but it all worked out and I started flying skydivers on the third weekend there.
After two months of flying jumpers I decided that maybe I should take the first jump course taught by Glenn Houser and make one static line jump. I figured it would make me a better jump pilot. During our FJC lunch break we returned to the airport only to have people scurrying around and crossing the runway quickly. We went back to class and completed the training. At then end of class we were told there had been an accident and a jumper was fatally injured. After seven years of operating at that airport this was the first time. The DZ would never operate there again. The city illegally stated they would arrest anyone if they tried to jump there. The DZO decided he did not want that sort of confrontation using his friends to prove a point.
So, the group of jumpers from Harrisonville seemed to split off going to two other Kansas City area dropzones. I went to Greater Kansas City Skydiving Club at Independence, MO where my pilot friend had been flying jumpers. I was told I still didn’t qualify for insurance due to total time despite a BS degree in Aeronautical Science, hours of experience in aircraft greater in complexity than their 182s and 206s and prior experience flying skydivers. I still wanted to be with my new friends so I hung around. And it was suggested I take a refresher course and do that first jump. I took them up on the offer and made that first IAD jump. EVERYTHING changed after that.
…20 years later I am very proud of what Christy West and I have accomplished with this website and humbled to have so many of you follow and contribute to the information here. I reported to you early this year I was invited to the Dropzone Operators Conference in Daytona Beach, FL for recognition on another contribution to the United States Parachute Associations in flying formation aircraft with jumpers. The article on the event appears in the June issue of Parachutist.
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