In Memoriam

bob sinclairIn memory of Bob Sinclair
by Dan Poynter, D-454

Bob Sinclair was a skydiving pioneer. His love for freefall put him in the right places at the right times. And he made jumping a lifetime pursuit.

When I was a kid, I saw an airshow. A jumper made a pulloff at about 600’. It looked like fun.   –Bob Sinclair

Bob passed away in DeLand, Florida, on 20 November 2014. He was 89.

To outlive all of the current jumpers should not be difficult as I have more practice at it than most. –Bob Sinclair.

Sinclair began jumping at age 18 in 1945 with the 13th and 82nd Airborne Divisions. He made 17 static line jumps with the Army. In 1947 he graduated to civilian jumping—as best he could. He made 33 freefall jumps without a reserve. His 24’ military surplus seat pack cost him $10. That would be $106.38 in 2014 dollars. From 1949 to 1960, he was jumping in Fairbanks, Alaska, before the sport was formed in the lower 48 states. In 1953, he attempted to jump into the Rose Bowl in Pasadena during half time under a Double L canopy but missed the stadium.

Bob was a very talented and creative guy with a touch of the true madness. –Jerry Baumchen.

In 1958, he entered the US Team Tryouts in Abbottsford, BC.  He became a pilot and a Master Parachute Rigger with seal symbol AAD.  In 1961, he relocated to Hollywood to become a barnstorming demo jumper, instructor to Hollywood stars, and one of the first freefall photographers. He was an all-round fascinating jumper. He made more than 2,500 jumps by the time he turned 68. Bob became too old to jump—but he continued jumping anyway—for more than 20 years.

I only use a parachute so the mere mortals I jump with won’t be intimidated. — Bob Sinclair‬

He spent 15 years pioneering freefall camerawork for television and motion pictures. He originated the use of the 35mm helmet-mounted motion picture camera. Sinclair was the free fall cameraman for the Ripcord TV series (1961-1963, 38 episodes). Bob filmed dozens of television shows, commercials, and motion pictures such as Beverly Hillbillies, Bob Hope Show, Mission Impossible, Gilligan’s Island, Hogan’s Heroes, The Green Berets, and many more. Bob is best known for his “Buddy Jump” with Johnny Carson, a 60 second delay from 12,500 in 1968 over Lake Elsinore. Film of this jump was shown many times on the Tonight show as Johnny recounted his adventure. Carson contributed greatly to the growth of sport parachuting.

All of the actors and actresses that we trained were fine students as they were used to taking directions from a director. —Bob Sinclair.

Three video interviews were conducted by Jeff Boddiger for the Skydiving Museum in Ray, Michigan, just before Bob Sinclair passed away.

Video Interview #1:

Video Interview #2:

Video Interview #3:

If you don’t get smarter as you get older, you won’t get older. –Bob Sinclair.

Our sport and industry have benefitted greatly from Bob Sinclair’s pioneering work. He will be missed.



  1. Kimberly DeWitt says:

    Thanks for sharing this about Bob. I started writing Bob a few years ago. He was with my uncle when he died skydiving in Fairbanks in 1952. I stopped hearing from him and assumed he had passed away.

  2. Gregory Lance says:

    Thank you guys for these comments on Bob. Thank you all for the video of Bob talking in his classic way. His memory and nack for details always amazed me. I jumped my first jump with him in 1983 in Taft California. First 100 jumps were round jumps with military 28LL candy stripe with huge gut gear reserve. Bob was the only one I remember teaching stand up landings on rounds instead on PLF’s. After about my 10th round jump I could land standing up about 90% of the time, but I felt it a few times. Love you Bob see you some day…

  3. Bill says:

    read on the internet that Bob Sinclaire had passed away,and would like to send my condolence to his family & friends. I was in Fairbanks, Alaska and was a member of the Fairbanks Parachute Club when I met Bob, in 1956/57. I now live in northern Nevada. Bob was a great guy.

    • Linda says:

      Thanks for the condolences. Bob will be inducted into the Skydiving Hall of Fame at the Celebration Event, October 1 – 4, in Ellington, CT at CPI.

  4. Bob Folline says:

    I jumped with Bob at California city when he came down from Alaska in the summers.
    Bob was a real character and I continued to see him occasionally at Z-Hills when I went east.

    Sure gonna miss him but many memories to hang on to.

  5. Scott DeArman says:

    I had the pleasure of meeting Bob when I was sixteen years old (yep 16) B-3147, it was a jump meet in Taft in 1964. My father and I had gone to Taft to compete in our first competition meet, from Las Vegas. He was bigger than life to me at that time and when he spoke on something concerning skydiving I listened. Men like him can’t be replaced and should always be remembered. If my memory serves me correct a national competition in Las Vegas and we reconnected and talked about nothing but skydiving. Great Memories live on. RIP

    J. Scott DeArman C-2825 (1965)

  6. Pete Blockinger says:

    Bob was a very close friend I was one of the students at wheeler Ridge when Bob open that in Northern California and jumped over the old taft drop zone and about the Rose Bowl jump he turned away at the last minute cuz he didn’t bring his tickets with him I was with Bob when people that was doing other things and couldn’t figure out how to do it and skydiving used to come and ask Bob how to do it he will surely be missed

  7. Tammy Fiess says:

    I have a patch, perhaps a team patch or member patch for the Midnight Sun Sky Divers (Fairbanks) Alaska. It also says Rescue and also Sport. The background is blue with a skydiving figure done in white and orange. I believe it belonged to Bob (Robert) Hormann. The date would be late 40’s to the 50’s. Does any one have any information regarding this patch?

  8. darren says:

    Met Bob while taking a AFF course at Coolidge Skydive center (thankfully now closed, incredibly unprofessional people) he was living out of his van and moving from one drop zone to another. After a very bad landing geographically wise I was met with Bob’s comment ” hey Darren you starting your own drop zone?” puzzled i replied “no, why?” to which he continued ” ‘cos you sure as shit aint landing in this one!” to which i had to laugh. I remember another time watching him jump from the plane before me just in a pair of jeans and t shirt, no goggles, no helmet. I remember thinking i hope i have those kahunas when im 80!

  9. Phil Ward says:

    I began jumping with Bob in Fairbanks in 1955, eventually transferring into the USAF’s Combat Control Team from which I retired in 1971…I had seen Bob in 2012 when he came through to see a old friend, whose name I do not remember but he was the first person to pass a baton…Bob and I communicated up until, I recall, early 2014 when I lost track of him.. I believe his sister lives somewhere in Michigan…Bob, for sure, was a “parachute bum” and will be missed by all…

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