GOLF COURSE DEMO
By Bill Newell
Also published in Skydiving Magazine
On Easter Sunday in 1971 at Taft, California, I clued in the load beforehand and then asked the new Beech pilot if we could toss some Easter eggs over the golf course after take off.
The DZ owner’s son, Rich Armstrong, had his family at the golf course for an Easter egg hunt instead of skydiving with us, and we wanted to rub it in. The idea was to trick the pilot into dropping us over the golf course for an unauthorized demo.
I showed him a pilot chute attached to a sack which I had just filled with rocks, and he beamed, “That’s a great idea!”
The only problem was that the golf course was a mere 10 miles from the airport and we would barely have the altitude for a hop and pop while passing over. Hell, we wanted to do RW. So while spotting the first pass at 2000 feet, I gave radical right and left corrections before shaking my head no and motioning for a go-around.
We came back around at 4500 feet and I did the same thing with more emphasis. We were at 6500 feet on the third pass and noting his look of exasperation, knew we couldn’t get away with much more as I waved him around again.
As we came across at 8500 feet I wondered why he hadn’t figured out the “eggs” would never have made the target from even 4500 feet. But it was time to go. I called for a cut, tossed the pilot chute and sack in the baggage compartment and will never forget the pilot’s expression as we bombed out.
We got a nice star, but being unfamiliar with golf I picked the pretty green circle with a flag on it to stand up my Para-Commander. My cowboy boots dug into the soft turf, plowing up a fair amount of sod. I thought we would be greeted as heroes and couldn’t understand why our audience was giving us dirty looks and swearing.
Arriving back at the airport, my cohorts disappeared, leaving me to face the wrath of DZ owner Art Armstrong and the chagrinned pilot. We were all grounded for 30 days, but Art had to lift the grounding after the second week because there weren’t enough skydivers to fill the loads.