Bob Buquor over Lancaster, California 1963.
Photo: Ralph White
WHO WAS BOB BUQUOR?
As a talented freefall photographer, Bob Buquor played a major role in the beginnings of star formation relative work. He was a mentor to the Arvin Good Guys, one of skydiving's original relative work teams. Bob Buquor moved to southern California from Texas and made his first jump at Elsinore, California in 1958. Demonstrating an early talent for freefall photography he began a career that would take him to the top as a commercial freefall cameraman.
Buquor worked on the TV series Ripcord and filmed numerous aerial stunts and commercials with such notables as Lyle Cameron, Doyle Fields, Jim Lizzio and Leigh Hunt. During 1962 and 1963, when he wasn't filming commercially, he was out at drop zones around southern California shooting movies and stills of fun jumpers. In those days, just about everything anyone could imagine was being performed in freefall...except orderly relative work.
According to Bill Newell, Bob Buquor began organizing and filming star formations at Arvin, California in 1964. Bill met Buquor in March of that year, just after he'd filmed Arvin's first four-man star with Mitch Poteet, Louie Paproski, Andy Keech and Don Henderson. A few weeks later, Bob filmed the first five-man star with Mitch Poteet, Louie Paproski, Leigh Hunt, Nels Lindebloom and Don Henderson. "One of the things I remember best about Bob," says Newell, "is that I was at a strange drop zone, with only about 50 jumps, and he was one of the first ones to ask me on a load. He had a zany, outgoing personality."
Bob Buquor gained quite a following of relative work enthusiasts over a three-year span of star attempts at the Arvin and Old River drop zones near Bakersfield where hard-core regular jumpers included Bob Thompson, Al Paradowski, Jim Dann, Brian Williams, Jerry Bird, Mitch Poteet, John Rinard, Joe McKinney, Lou Paproski, Bill Stage, Don Henderson, Terry Ward, Skratch Garrison, and of course, Bill Newell.
In August of 1964, ABC-TV sent Buquor to Germany to cover the World Parachuting Championships. He was back in time to organize and photograph the world's first six-man star over Arvin on September 6, 1964. The picture was on the cover of Skydiver magazine. On New Year's Day 1965, Buquor shot the stills of Rod Pack's famous chute less jump over Arvin. His photos were published in an exclusive feature article and on the cover of Life magazine. Buquor and Rod Pack were good friends and also pilots. They bought a couple of little Globe Swift two-seater sport airplanes with some of the earnings from the chute less jump stunt. Buquor spent a good part of 1965 flying to Arvin on the weekends from his home in the Los Angeles area to photograph the Arvin Jumpers in various relative work formations and star attempts.
After more than a year of filming six and seven man stars, constantly trying for the "big one," Buquor finally captured the elusive first eight-man star on film over Arvin, on October 17, 1965. While miniscule in comparison to today's group relative work feats, Buquor's spectacular freefall flicks of the period created quite a sensation in Parachutist magazine.
During 1966, Buquor continued filming many 8, 9, and not-quite-legal 10-way stars at the Old River drop zone. (By this time, women relative workers Clarice Garrison, Fritzie Cox, and Donna Wardean were jumping on Star attempts, and the "10-man" Star label became the "10-way.")
On July 27, 1966, Bob Buquor drowned in the ocean off Malibu Beach while filming a stunt sequence for a Hollywood movie. The MGM production, starring Tony Curtis and Sharon Tate, ironically was titled "Don't Make Waves."
The jump was an expensive re-shoot of a weeks worth of filming rejected by the studio. Leigh Hunt had contracted the skydiving sequences from MGM and decided to film it all without being able to watch the daily takes because the daily viewing rooms were full from the (Academy Award winning) Doctor Zhivago shooting. Bob was more concerned with saving the film, than he was for his own safety and drowned as a result. He was found with the camera in his hands and most of the footage was salvaged and used in the film. When he died Bob was 33, had been jumping for eight years, and had 990 jumps.
Bill Newell recalls why he established the Star Crest Program: "Bob was an excellent cameraman, but he had a tough time with some of the parachuting establishment because, I suppose, he was ahead of his time in areas that made them envious. When he died, I didn't think he'd been properly recognized for the good work he'd done up to that time. I decided to create a perpetual memorial in his honor to keep the brotherhood spirit alive by recording relative workers' accomplishments for the history of the sport."
Bill Newell describes the goals of the BBMSC: "We are striving to keep the original ideals on which we were founded alive for today's skydivers as well as for the pioneers of yesterday. It is to Bob Buquor's driving enthusiasm for relative work skydiving that the SCR membership is dedicated. We hope that recipients of our awards will carry on Bob Buquor's love for the art of flying by helping other jumpers, especially those less experienced, enjoy relative work skydiving as much as they do."
So that's what your Star Crest number is all about. No matter how many digits it has, be proud of it. It's a time honored tradition, pass it on.