Our Founder, William H. “Bill” Ottley
Established the American Museum of Sport Parachuting and Air Safety in 1972 as a not-for-profit corporation, which is now the International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame.
William Henry Ottley D-298, a pioneering figure in sport parachuting, spent more than three decades of dedicated service to skydiving and USPA, as board member, vice president and executive director until his retirement in 1992. He played a key role in enhancing the sport and increasing its popularity worldwide including during the time while serving as the alternate delegate to the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) Parachuting Commission, the world governing body of all aviation sports. Since 1982, the Ottley Swords have been awarded to the winning 4- and 8-Way teams at the World Championships of Formation Skydiving. Bill’s professional honors include the 1976 FAI Paul Tissandier Diploma for serving the cause of aviation in general and sport aviation in particular, the 1984 Parachute Industry Association’s Don Beck Memorial Achievement Award for skydiving achievements that have stood the test of time, the 1994 FAI Air Sport Medal for outstanding services in connection with air sport activities, and, the 1995 National Aeronautic Association’s Wesley L. McDonald Distinguished Statesman of Aviation Award for his efforts over an extended period of years of making contributions of significant value to aeronautics reflecting credit upon America and themselves. Bill was inducted into the International Skydiving Hall of Fame, Class of 2010. The FAI gave Bill lifetime status as a Companion of Honor and the U.S. Parachute Association recognized him in 2014 as an Executive Director Emeritus. The International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame established the William Ottley Circle for donations of $1 million or more. Bill died in 2005.
The Hon. George H.W. Bush, D-20000
Honorary Chairman of the Board
“This [skydiving] is the most exciting thing I have done, next to being President of the United States.”
On June 12, 2004, George Herbert Walker Bush went skydiving in honor of his 80th birthday. It was his third parachute jump since World War II. He also made a jump on June 9, 1999, before his 75th birthday, and told reporters then he had also parachuted in Arizona two years earlier. George H.W. Bush is a World War II veteran who served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States from 1981 to 1989 and the 41st President of the United States, serving January 20, 1989 – January 20, 1993.
Lew Sanborn, D-1
“If skydiving continues to grow as it has for the last 50 years, I can’t imagine where the sport will be 50 years from now. We must preserve our history while we can”
Lew Sanborn is one of the legends in skydiving and holds the coveted D-1 license. Lew started jumping in the Army Airborne in 1949 and has made more than 6,000 jumps. In 1959, Lew and Jacques Istel opened Parachutes Incorporated in Orange, Massachusetts, the first commercial parachuting company in the United States. Lew has the honor of being the “first” to do many things in the skydiving world including the “first” person to jump with a sleeve tied on to the apex, the “first” to film another jumper with a motion camera, and being a member of the group to hold the “first” World Parachuting Record claimed by the U.S. In 2000, Lew became the first person to celebrate 50 years of freefall skydiving. When Lew retired from construction work in 1992, he and his wife, Jacky, traveled around the country living in a motor home. They eventually settled into retirement in Missouri to be close to family.
International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame Museum
Board of Trustees
James F. “Curt” Curtis III, D-1407 | President / CEO
With more than 30 years of executive level experience in sports marketing, Curt is the owner of CCA (CurtComm Associates) of New York City. CCA is a full service marketing and communications entity specializing in the sports, special events and entertainment arenas. In partnership with its clients, CCA develops strategically targeted programs designed to meet predetermined business objectives. Curt served as a member of the US National Parachute Team, was the US National and World Parachuting Champion in 1977, assistant executive director, national director, president and chairman of the board for the US Parachute Association and a US delegate to the Federal Aeronautique Internationale. He was educated at Boston University and completed his military service with the U.S. Marine Corps.
Christopher J. Needels, D-1765 | Vice President
Having served in the White House as Director of International Programs on the National Security Council Staff, Chris went on to train former President George Herbert Walker Bush to skydive four years later. His 28 years of service in the U.S. Army included two combat tours in Southeast Asia, service with infantry, armor, airborne, intelligence, Ranger and Special Forces units, and a tour as commander of the U.S. Army Parachute Team, the “Golden Knights.” Following his military service he became executive director of the U. S. Parachute Association, where he remained for more than thirteen years. Chris now resides in Accomac, Virginia, with his wife Conny. He holds USPA license D-1765 and has made more than 3,000 skydives. He received a B.S. (Engineering) from the U.S. Military Academy, an M.S. in Operations Research (Engineering) from the Navy Postgraduate School, and a Master of Military Arts and Science from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. Currently, he is chair of the museum’s Building & Exhibit Design Committee.
Lee Schlichtemeier, D-16256 | Treasurer
Alvin “Lee” Schlichtemeier lives in Plano, Texas, with his wife Carol and together they own and operate Skydive Dallas parachute center in Whitewright, 60 miles northeast of Dallas. Lee made his first jump in 1989 and has almost 500 jumps. He’s active as a national and international competition judge and, as a commercial, instrument, single-engine-rated pilot, flies his own Cessna 206. Lee joined USPA’s board of directors in 1997 as the Southwest Regional Director and began serving as its treasurer in 1999, holding that position on the executive committee until 2013 when he decided not to run for the board again. Doc Lee is a physician, radiation oncologist, and medical director of the St. Joseph’s Regional Cancer Center Radiation Oncology Department in Bryan, Texas. He earned his bachelor’s degree and medical degree from the University of Nebraska and completed his medical residency in radiation oncology at the University of Arizona Medical Center. Lee served in the U.S. Air Force, and Florida and Arizona Air National Guards. Lee is chair of the museum’s Finance & Budget Committee.
Adam Schmucker, D-31724 |Secretary
Curt Bachman, D-18700 | Trustee
Curt was born into a family involved in the skydiving industry. His father, Lowell Bachman, started Para Gear Equipment Co. Inc. in 1960 and was a founding member of the Parachute Industry Association (PIA) and the International Skydiving Museum. His mother, Dori Bachman, became involved with Para Gear after they married, served 22 years as the treasurer of PIA and was a museum trustee. On the day Curt was born, his parents purchased him a lifetime membership to USPA. Throughout his childhood, Curt accompanied his parents to National and International skydiving competitions. At the age of 18, he travelled to Locarno Switzerland to take an AFF course and learn to skydive. He continued to skydive while in college at the University of Arizona and afterwards, in 1997, began working for Para Gear. Since then, Curt has been travelling the world to various skydiving competitions marketing Para Gear, attending PIA meetings and symposiums, Skydiving Museum events and experiencing exotic skydiving trips. Some of particular note were the North Pole skydive in 1999, the Millennium Skydive in Patriot Hills Antarctica and BASE jumping Angel Falls in Venezuela in 2001. Curt has skydived on all seven continents which he completed in 2001 in Djibouti Africa.
Dana P. Engelstad, CPA, D-3613 | Trustee
Dana is a shareholder at Johnson, Miller & Co. PC, CPA’s and is currently managing director of the Midland, Texas office tax and advisory practice. He received his BA in English Literature from the University of South Dakota and upon completion of his military service as a commissioned US Army Officer, graduated cum laude with degrees in accounting and economics from North Carolina State University. He began his skydiving career (on a static line) at South Dakota Skydivers, Inc., in 1968. From 1972 – 1978, Dana was an active national style and accuracy competitor and was a member of the 1975/1976 and 1977/1978 US Style and Accuracy Teams. In 1976, he was a member of the World Champion Men’s Accuracy Team at the World Parachuting Championships in Rome, Italy. From 1975 – 1977, Dana was a jump pilot and satellite DZO for Raeford Drop Zone while actively training. From 1977 – 1979, he worked for Para Gear Equipment Company handling international marketing and promotional responsibilities. He coached the national parachuting teams of Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia, Poland, the Netherlands, Indonesia, and the Chilean Army Special Forces in square canopy accuracy in conjunction with his responsibilities as Para Gear’s foreign sales rep. Dana is married to M.K. Engelstad. Dana is chair of the museum’s Development Committee.
Dr. Mike Horan, D-881 |Trustee
Mike returned from Vietnam and made his first jump with the Quantico Parachute Club in 1963. When he started, he was the youngest, lowest ranked and least experienced club member. Two and one half years later, when he left the USMC, Mike was still the youngest, lowest ranked member, but was now the most experienced and had become CSO and ASO. In the years that followed, Mike’s interest in the history of the sport made him research and write three books and articles for every active sport parachuting publication. He served as USPA Conference Director for eight years and ten years as USPA Archivist. Mike serves on the Curations and Building & Exhibit Design Committees.
Kirk Knight, D-6709 | Trustee
Kirk Knight has made more than 5400 skydives and is an active jumper with ratings as an AFF Instructor Examiner, Coach Course Director, and PRO; he has served as U.S. Parachute Team Leader on several occasions. He is a parachuting judge with international ratings from the FAI and CISM and was selected as the Chief Judge at the 2014 World Military Parachuting Championship. He holds FAA ratings as an airline transport pilot in airplanes and a commercial instrument rating in helicopters. Kirk is currently a liaison officer at U.S. Special Operations Command, MacDill AFB, FL, and also serves on the Command’s parachute demonstration team. Kirk is a 35-year Army veteran with multiple combat assignments in infantry and aviation and was Commander of the U.S. Army Parachute Team. He holds several education degrees, including a B.S from Embry-Riddle University, an MBA from Chaminade University, and a Ph.D. from Northcentral University.
Marylou Laughlin, D-12418 | Trustee
Marylou began jumping in 1988, earned her D license that first year, and, to-date, has more than 4,300 jumps (and still counting.) She served on the US Parachute Association’s board of directors 1999-2013 as the Northeast Regional Director, concurrently serving most of those years as chair and/or member of the competition committee. She’s an FAI Canopy Piloting judge and a national judge in the following skydiving disciplines: accuracy, canopy formation, formation skydiving, and style. It is said that there is not another judge in the world in the last ten years who has conducted more judges training camps and been responsible for the issuing of more initial judge’s ratings than Marylou. She continues to be actively involved in second category events, acting as the USPA chief judge over all disciplines at the 2013 USPA National Skydiving Championships in Illinois and as Assistant to the Chief Judges at the 2016 Mondial at Skydive Chicago. Marylou has been awarded the FAI Leonardo Da Vinci Diploma, was made an Honorary Golden Knight, and holds the New England State CF and FS Records in the 25-Way and 96-Way respectively. Marylou serves on the Development and Marketing Committees for the museum. She resides in Connecticut with numerous pets or “children” as she calls them. Marylou has a PADI Advanced Open Water certification and also a private pilot’s license.
Linda Miller, D-3150 | Trustee
Linda made her first jump in 1968 in Lakeside, CA. In 1973, she moved to Raeford, NC, to hone her skills in the classic skydiving events of style and accuracy. She met her goals by earning a slot on the 1974 US Style & Accuracy Team that competed in Szolnok, Hungary. Before joining the board, Linda served as a board advisor for almost a decade. She is the 2014 recipient of the museum ‘s Trustees’ Award for her dedication and creative enthusiasm as a board advisor and her many contributions towards bringing the museum to reality. Linda is currently chair of the museum’s Marketing Committee.
Roberto Montañez, C-41870 | Trustee
Roberto is the Vice-President and General Manager of Butler Parachute Systems Group, Inc. in Roanoke, VA. Roberto has worked in the parachute industry since 1996, starting work as a research assistance while a student at Parks College of Saint Louis University, where he obtained his B.S. in Aerospace Engineering. During his professional career, Roberto has worked on the design, development, testing and production of parachute systems for multiple civilian and military applications. Roberto also serves as president of the Parachute Industry Association, and is an active skydiver and private pilot.
Gillian Rayner | Trustee
The recently elected President of the IPC, Gill made her first jump in 1978 jumping regularly for a number of years and becoming an instructor. In 1978, she started paragliding and, in 1984, judging, first accuracy, followed by FS then CF, becoming an international judge in 2006. She became a French delegate to IPC in 1990 serving as IPC Technical Secretary from 1998 – 2002 and became First Vice President in 2007. In 2014, Gill was elected FAI Executive Director (the first women to hold the position.) Currently, she serves on the IPC Judges and the Rules and Regulations Committees and has judged a number of competitions at national, regional and international levels. She has served as FAI Controller to International Competitions five times and has also served on the Jury at International Competitions. She is a member of the board of the French Federation where, in the past, she has held the positions of Treasurer, Vice President, Chair of the Competition Committee and in charge of International Relations. Gill was the recipient of the Paul Tissandier diploma from the FAI; the French Bronze, Silver and Gold medals of Sport (issued by the Ministry of Sport) and the prestigious Aeronautical Media (issued by the Ministry of Transport). Gill retired from jumping in 2003 and currently focuses on indoor flying. After spending most of her career at IBM France in human resources, Gill is retired and lives with her husband in Leucate which is 40 minutes south of the Spanish border where they have a small business running seasonal property they own.
Sandy R.Reid, C-6557 |Trustee
Sandy made his first parachute jump in 1970 and earned his FAA Senior Rigger license in 1971 and his FAA Master Rigger license in 1974. In 1976, he traveled to South Africa for an International Parachuting Championship and remained there working for Parachute Industries of Southern Africa until December 1980 when he moved back to the U.S. After working for several different parachute manufacturing and sales companies, in 1985, Sandy designed a new harness and container system and established Rigging Innovations Inc to manufacture and market it. He has been extremely active in PIA since 1983 serving in various capacities, including as Chair of the Technical Committee for a total of 15 years. He currently serves as a member on the Technical, Risk Management and Rigging committees. In 2000, he established the US Academy of Parachute Rigging in Eloy AZ to train parachute riggers. In 2003-2004 he wrote the Parachute Rigger Handbook for the FAA, which was published in 2005. He has made over 4300 jumps and is a Private Pilot. He is President/CEO of, and along with his wife Brenda, co-owner of Rigging Innovations Inc., a parachute equipment manufacturer located in Eloy AZ. Sandy serves as chair of the museum’s Curations Committee.
Pat Thomas | Trustee
Pat is the owner and president of Sun Path Products Inc, Raeford, NC, a manufacturer of parachute harness and containers. She is also owner of Complete Parachute Solutions, DeLand, FL, and owner of Tactical Training Facility in Coolidge, AZ. Pat made her first jump in 1987 and last jumped in 1991. She currently holds dual citizenship in England and the US and has three sons, one aged 40, and identical twins aged 37, and 8 grandchildren. Pat is an honorary Golden Knight and very active with the Parachute Industry Association (PIA) of which she has chaired the PIA Symposium Committee since 2005. Pat is chair of the museum’s Nominating Committee.
Bruce J. Wicks, D-3493 | Trustee
Bruce made his first jump during Airborne School at Fort Benning, GA in 1965. His military career included two combat tours in Vietnam, Chief of Tower Training at the U.S. Army Airborne School, Deputy Director of the Physical Education Department at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Commandant of the U.S. Army Physical Fitness School and Commander of the Golden Knights Army Parachute Team. He was the Team Leader for the U.S. National Parachute Team that competed for the World Championship in Sweden in 1988 and again in 1992 for the U.S. Team that competed in Austria. He was also selected as the U.S. Team Judge for the 1986 U.S. Parachute Team that competed in Ankara, Turkey and for the 1990 U.S. Team that competed for the World Championship in Yugoslavia. He also judged in a variety of overseas events as either Event or Chief Judge. Bruce has jumped for two Latin American presidents. They were President Juan Bordaberry of Uruguay in Montevideo, Uruguay and President BG Kjell Laugerud in San Jose, Guatemala. He was the key architect involved in planning and carrying out the parachuting segment of the Opening Ceremonies for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. Bruce graduated with a B.S. degree in Physical Education from Lock Haven University and an M.S. Degree in Physical Education from the University of Illinois. He is currently President of the Golden Knights Alumni Association.
Graeme has devoted his life to skydiving since his first jump in October 1968 in Papua New Guinea. He has won many Australian National Championships medals in style, accuracy, para-ski, and formation skydiving and has competed extensively in FAI World Championships, winning the 1982 Team Accuracy bronze medal in Lučenec, Czechoslovakia. He has been a national coach, Operations and Safety Manager, chief instructor, instructor examiner, and a parachute rigger. He was a member of the Australian Parachute Federation (APF) board, which included stints as chairman, alternate IPC delegate and later the delegate. He was the APF Chief Executive Officer, retiring in 2008. Graeme has served in almost every capacity during his illustrious career including terms as Head of Delegation, Controller and Jury member at several world championships. He is the longest-serving President of the FAI’s International Parachuting Commission (nine years). The FAI made him a Companion of Honor and he is an FAI President of Honor having served as President of the Air Sports General Commission from 2011 to 2016. Graeme still jumps regularly with over 7,000 jumps and he competed at the 2016 World Parachuting Championships at Skydive Chicago. He is the Air Sport Australia Confederation treasurer and is a member of the organizing committee for the 2018 World Parachuting Championships to be held in Queensland, Australia. Earlier this year, the Australian Parachute Federation recognized Graeme with its highest award, Master of Sport Parachuting, for his outstanding representation in competition and administration for nearly 50 years.