Falling for a Sport – skydiving history book


This 208-page full colour, limited edition book is a fascinating history of South Australian skydiving from its beginnings in 1961 to the present, recording the people and the events which have shaped our sport.

A collector's item:
Hundreds of photographs from the past 50 years
Detailed historic accounts of how the sport grew and developed
Colourful stories from the sport’s characters, innovators and pioneers

Published by the SA Sport Parachute Club and the South Australian Parachute Council.

There are still some copies available.
$45 for local pickup or add $11 for SA postage, $13 for interstate postage.

Contact Steve Swann if you'd like a copy.

Parachute training 1961 – the way it was

Skydiving film in South Australia doesn’t come any older than this 1961 footage of original members of the SA School of Parachuting training at Parafield for their first jumps.

The old 8 mm home movie footage is from the collection of pioneer SA jumper Max Chaplin, who later drowned in a para-scuba demo jump off West Beach in suburban Adelaide in 1968.

It also includes a brief shot of original SA female skydivers Susi Wright, Mary Summers, Kathy Henderson and Cathy Williamson about to board the Beaver, at Virginia.

The training footage was taken sometime between August and November, 1961, and shows the original instruction equipment – the ramp, suspended harness (which would have cracked someone's skull if the rope attaching it to the tree had broken) and the military style training.

The training area was about where the airport depot is now. But, according to Col Parsons, who was on that first course and went on to train generations of skydivers himself, it was was pretty bare back then – although a couple of the old galvo huts which are evident in the film still exist!

Jubilee year kicks off with parkland demo

SA skydiving's 50th anniversary year was launched with a mass evening jump into Adelaide's south parklands on Monday, February 14.

Twenty-six jumpers gathered for the demo, using five Cessnas but only 16 managed to make the jump – air traffic control problems meant the remaining 10 ran out of light.

Channel 7's "Today Tonight" current affairs program ran the following positive story on the sport.

Ted Harrison – how SA skydiving started

A chance 1961 meeting in a Hindley Street furniture store was the unlikely catalyst for the birth of sport parachuting in South Australia.

Ted Harrison, a young Adelaide newspaper reporter and part time “weekend warrior” with the Army Reserve (then known as the CMF), had only recently completed a static line parachute course. Pleased with his novel achievement, Ted took to wearing a modest lapel badge issued by the GQ parachute company.

It wasn’t  something the average man in the street would recognise – but it was spotted by a genuine World War Two parachute veteran (the furniture salesman) who ignited Ted’s interest in turning what was then in Adelaide still seen as a military-only activity into a brand new sport.

This historic interview with the colourful Ted Harrison captures the essence of the man and the time when SA skydiving was born.

Jumping at Aldinga - in living colour

This historic footage of jumping at Aldinga in 1962 is from Col Parsons' collection. The Dragon Rapide, SA's first jumpship, features in the early sequences.

SA skydiving legends in this rare film include Ted Harrison, Phil Edwards and Brian Brown.

Old 8mm movie camera technology is a far cry from today's high definition options  – but the old gear, early relative work and baton passing attempts captured in this film make memorable viewing.

© 2011 Steve Swann

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