Thoughts of the Past
After reading “Tales From the Bonfire—The Last Hurrah for Film?” by Tom Sanders (May Parachutist), which paid homage to the freefall photographers from whom so much of his knowledge to perfect his craft came, I felt compelled to write and thank him for bringing back thoughts of people and times deep in the past. Tom and I started jumping about the same time at Elsinore, [California], and we knew and admired the same people. Many, like Kevin Donnelly, became mentors and later close friends.
Although I, too, spent several years of my jumping career with cameras on my head, I never jumped with as much weight as Tom. I restricted myself to DZ camera work, while Tom imperiled his neck with much heavier 35 mm motion picture cameras. For me, all it took to alter my neck permanently was using side mounts, necessitated by jumping from smaller aircraft like Cessna 182s, that were responsible for some seriously head-twisting openings when I couldn’t get my helmet in front of the risers in time. Over many, many jumps, the cumulative effect resulted in a limited-range-of-motion condition in my neck, which ultimately, along with really horrible knees and an inability to run out no-wind landings, forced me to quit jumping.
I truly miss the sport and its inherent camaraderie, but above all, I often think of those whom Tom named and the many close friendships formed during decades of jumping in Southern California.
Leigh Webb | D-6499
Franklin, New Hampshire