Sky Diving

Sky diving enthusiasts hope to see their sport soon on the list of regular inter-collegiate events participated in by the University.

Though strongly enthusiastic about the challenges of diving the sky, David B. Burnham '55-3, former Army parachutist, re-enrolled in the University, admits there are many problems to be solved.

First among these is the public's general attitude. "Sky diving bears no relation to the wild shows put on by barn-stormers of the twenties and thirties. This is a controlled sport," Burnham said.


Other general problems to be faced are the Bay State's laws restricting jumping, finding an area for practice, getting the use of a suitable airplane and getting good weather.

At this time, most civilian jumping in this country is centered in Woodbury, Conn. An airplane, chutes, packing equipment and timing devices, maintained by a small club draw a small coterie of active jumpers to this tiny New England village every week-end.


Sky diving as a sport was brought to this country in 1955 by Jacques A. Istel, Princeton '49. In less than a year's time, Istel organized and trained an American team to compete in the Third World Parachute Championship held in Moscow last summer.

Since sky diving is encouraged and subsidized as a sport of military value in many countries, most observers were amazed when the untried team took a sixth place from the nine contending teams.

Those interested in trying to establish sky diving as a regular Crimson sport are, at present, all veterans of Army air-borne training. It is hoped that facilities will soon be available to train non-jumpers.

In official competition a jumper is judged on style, timing, and accuracy. A typical event requires the jumper to leave the plane at 5000 feet, stabilize within five seconds, hold this position for 20 seconds, open the 'chute and land as closely as possible to a marker.

The parachutist is docked points for any discrepancies in timing, on the character of his control while dropping, and on his distance from the marker on landing.

Two parachutes, a main and a reserve, are always worn when jumping for sport. The main is worn on the back, the reserve on the chest. In competition the parachutist carries a stopwatch and altimeter mounted on a special chest platform.

Landing on the ground is often compared to jumping from some incredible distance such as 25 feet. If a roll is executed when contact is made, however, the shock is negligible.