Last night Valerie and I went to an event I’ve been looking forward to for months. It was the Sparta Leaper Colony reunion. It was at an Elks Lodge in Ladue. I didn’t know Elks Lodges had swimming pools. Maybe it did because it was in Ladue.
In the nineties we lost
My buddies Jim and Scott Cowan had the team Quantum Leap. They won the national title for CReW (canopy relative work) and went on to become world champs. CReW is where they make all their formations under parachutes instead of freefalling.
They held the title for years and were able to get the country’s first SBA loan for and operation in
My heart was always in
Dave Verner ran the operation. Dave’s one of my two favorite bosses. Not surprisingly both were like fathers to me. Dave’s son Kirk moved on to join the Arizona Airspeed 4-way and 8-way freefall team. They became world champions and the only non-military team to beat the Army’s Golden Knights.
I bought my first rig from Don Thomas. Don was Wesley Snipes stunt double in the film Drop Zone. That led to other jobs. At the time Don was the only black skydiver allowed to do stunt work because no one else had enough jumps. In the movie
While I was in
Anyway, the reunion was organized by Calvin “Calmodee” Britt and
When we arrived the place was crowded. I thought they were Elks out on a Friday night. When I looked a little closer they were all dear friends. We’d all gotten so much older I didn’t recognize anyone at first. It was a testament to the love everyone felt for Dave that the place was packed. Skydivers came out of the woodwork.
Calvin’s always been a great organizer. He got us all together to do the Missouri POPS record in 2005. POPS stands for Parachutists Over Phorty. We did it at Quantum Leap in Sullivan out of the very airplane all of our friends died in. Four of the six fatalities were in our group.
Valerie had to get up early for work so we had to leave a little early. It almost broke my heart when I told Dave we were leaving. He looked at me and said, “No you’re not!”
Pics in order..... Dave Verner(The Prince of Darkness), Calmodee, Mo POPS record group 2005 (I'm last row-far left), old time skydive instruction at Sparta, memorial to our dear departed.