Saturday, April 26, 2008

Frankenstein Missouri

I can’t seem to dig up details of this jump but I wanted to tell what I could recall.

In 1999 25 skydivers were asked to participate in a promotion for the release of Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” video.

It was the 25 ½ year anniversary. They brought in a short skydiver so there would be 25 ½ of us.

I loved it because they paid us $300.00, 2 free jumps, and we got to keep our costumes.

Our pilot was Roger Nelson who was famous for organizing world freefall records. The previous summer he had completed a successful 246 way formation. He was shooting for 300 people that year. He died in a canopy collision in 2003.

If I’m not mistaken, B.J. Worth was our load organizer. He organizes all the skydiving stunts in the James Bond movies. He was also Bond’s stunt double.

The filming was to take place in Frankenstein MO (population 30). It was the only town in the US with that name. Our landing would nearly double the population.

After a day of recreational jumping at Quantum Leap in Sullivan, MO my friends Mary Jane, John and I headed in the general direction of the Calloway County nuclear power plant. Frankenstein was somewhere in between.

Late that night we got lost and stopped at a gas station to ask for directions. “Do you know where Frankenstein is?” we asked. “Do you mean Fronkensteen?” the attendant replied.

When we finally got there we couldn’t find a motel. It hadn’t occurred to us that a town of 30 wouldn’t have one. It was late and we were drunk so we decided to sleep in our vans at the site where we’d film in the morning. Shivering in my van I was awakened by John knocking on my window. It was too cold to sleep. Let’s just stay up and drink he suggested, this brilliant idea coming from a cop.

At 5:00 in the morning as the makeup artists were applying scars one of them remarked, “The bloodshot eyes are a nice touch.”

The mayor had officially renamed the town Young Frankenstein and the population swelled to 200 with a sudden influx of the town’s relatives.

As we landed in a small ball field, Fox 2’s Tim Ezell mysteriously appeared in our group in full Frankenstein drag with his microphone like he’d made the jump with us.

I don’t know how I did it, but I stripped as much makeup off as I could, put on a suit and tie, and drove to a deposition I had to videotape somewhere in the middle of Illinois.

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