2010 Hall of Fame Inductees
2010 Hall of Fame Inductees
Lowell Bachman, D-700, was born in Chicago, Illinois. He entered the Army in 1954 and was part of the 82nd Airborne Division. He also completed Pathfinder School which trains paratroopers to set up drop zones behind enemy lines, and became a U.S. Special Forces Soldier. In 1960, Bachman formed Para-Gear Equipment Company, starting out in the basement of his parents’ home with just $20. The Para-Gear catalogues are now a fixture in the skydiving community. Bachman became an honorary Golden Knight in 1991 and was a founding member and trustee of the National Skydiving Museum. He died in 2008.
In the early days of relative work (now called formation skydiving), no name was more synonymous with large freefall formations than Jerry Bird, D-3299. In 1967, over Taft, California, Bird participated in the first 10-man star. Bird was a founding member of the skydiving club Arvin Good Guys and later formed the 10-man teams Jerry Bird’s All-Stars and the Columbine Turkey Farm. His teams captured several national titles and four world titles. In 1983, the FAI awarded Bird the Leonardo da Vinci Parachuting Diploma to recognize his accomplishments; he was only the second American skydiver to receive this honor. Bird currently lives in Florida.
Georgia “Tiny” Broadwick was born in 1893. She was the first woman to leap from an airplane and the first parachutist—man or woman—to self-deploy a canopy. Broadwick joined the aerial barnstorming circuit at age 15 touring the country as a stunt jumper. After she retired from active jumping, she went on to promote skydiving everywhere she went. She made more than 1,100 jumps before retiring in 1923. Broadwick died in 1979.
Joe Crane, C-1, learned parachuting in the Army from 1921 – 1924 and became a stunt man with the Burns Flying Circus after leaving the service. In 1925, when most jumpers deployed immediately out of the aircraft, Joe Crane delayed deploying his canopy for 2,250 feet to disprove the theory that a man would lose consciousness in freefall. In 1933, he organized the National Parachute Jumpers Association, a precursor to USPA. Crane died in 1968.
Joe Kittinger’s aviation career began in 1949 in the U.S. Air Force. He made his first jump freefall in 1955 in El Centro, CA at the Navy Test Jump School. But, he is better known as the “first man in space.” In 1960, Kittinger, B-6215, leaped from a balloon gondola at 102,800 feet, setting the unofficial altitude record. Fifty years later, the altitude record still stands. In his later career, Kittinger served three tours of duty piloting jets in the Vietnam War. He currently resides in Florida.
Eilif Ness didn’t make his first jump until 1965 at age 34. Though not a household name in the United States, his standing in the international skydiving community is unparalleled. In his native Norway and elsewhere abroad, Ness has contributed many years of valuable work to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), first as delegate and later as president of the International Parachuting Commission and finally, from 1994 – 2000, as president of the FAI. During his long tenure as FAI president, he revolutionized the way the organization conducted its business.
William “Bill” Ottley, D-298, made his first jump in Orange, Massachusetts in 1959. A Yale graduate, Ottley was equally at ease in a jumpsuit as a business suit, flying his own plane from parachute meets to board meetings. Without his contributions to the sport, skydivers might have suffered from untold FAA airspace restrictions. Ottley established the USPA as a lobbying organization in D.C. to fight for skydivers’ rights. It was his vision to build the National Skydiving Museum and he left a sizable bequest when he passed away in 2005.
The legendary D-1, Lew Sanborn was the first skydiver to attain expert status. He made his first jump in 1949 with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. Sanborn was a national champion in 1954. In 1959, he and Jacques-André Istel opened Parachutes Incorporated in Orange, Massachusetts, the first commercial parachuting center in the United States. Sanborn is also an accomplished aviator who has piloted aircraft at many national skydiving competitions. Still active, he has made more than 6,000 jumps, and at least one in every state except Hawaii. Sanborn currently resides in Missouri.
In 1972, at the age of 17, Cheryl Stearns, D-4020, made her first jump in Coolidge, Arizona. In 1975, she moved to Raeford, North Carolina, where Gene Paul Thacker trained her to compete at the highest level. Stearns is now one of the most successful competitive skydivers in the world with countless national titles and multiple world titles in the classic events of style & accuracy. She has made more than 18,000 skydives. Stearns is an airline captain for U.S. Airways and resides in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Ted Strong, D-16, began parachuting in 1958 and trained jumpers at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point until his discharge in 1961. That year, he founded Strong Enterprises, a manufacturer of parachute equipment now based in Orlando, Florida. In 1984, Strong designed and built the first tandem system. Tandem jumping is now the most common method for introducing people to the sport. With more than 4,900 jumps, Strong remained active skydiving making about 60 jumps a year until his death in 2011.
Gene Paul Thacker, D-167, made his first jump in Jump School in 1954; his first sport jump came in Korea in 1959. Thacker has been a stellar member of the skydiving community for more than 30 years. His impressive competition credentials include membership on five U.S. Parachute Teams as competitor, coach or head of delegation. Thacker owned the Raeford Parachute Center where he provided leadership in the classic skydiving disciplines as a trainer of many national and world champions. He also served on the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights for six years. Thacker died in 2012.