Club Jump IN! Defrosts at Z-Hills

The Harry Parker, Harry Parker Photography, Skydive, Jump IN
The Skydive New England local’s club, Jump In!, built as a resource for new and upcoming jumpers took flight from the nest to defrost from a bitter New England Winter.  Learn about the best newbie program in the country after the jump ………. Killer slide show at the end! Lead by Brian Touhey, from Skydive New England’s four way team, T-Minus:01, brought over 10 new time jumpers to Skydive City taking advantage of the more pleasant jumping weather and facilities of the drop zone.

Jumpers made close to 15 jumps each by the end of three days despite weather filled with winds and low clouds.  Nine jumpers completed an SCR Award, lead by Brian and was a major accomplishment for these jumpers where most have under 100 jumps and are constantly hampered by New England Style weather.

For those that don’t know about the SCR Award as an accomplishment: “The Star Crest Recipient must free fly the exit (no grips) and must participate in a free fall formation involving eight or more skydivers held together for a minimum of 5 seconds.You can check out all the awards and History at the Bob Buquor memorial site.

Sounds simple?  To most of us it is, but to those who are still finding there way after earning their “A” license flying to and holding a round is one of the most difficult tasks.

To top it off Nicole Bedard made her 100th jump on Saturday and the whole group celebrated with a lingerie load.  Skydive City gave us the Caravan to ourselves for the jump and of course the load turned into a complete ZOO right out the door as two jumpers took Nicole out AFF style allowing jumpers to smack that butt in celebration.  Take the suits off just about anyone and jumping completely changes.  And there is nothing one can do but smile, enjoy the carnage and survive the ordeal!  And in true SNE skydiver fashion we covered the pretty girl in sweet sticky pie and then graciously threw her in the swoop pond.

Cool finds cool. I am a true believer that energy attracts energy.  This group was on fire and we attracted others to the flame.

Legendary photographer Tony Hathaway followed us out for a few jumps.  This guy is amazing.  Make sure to check out his art at the Tony Hathaway web site.  His art has graced countless covers, ads and walls.  Super nice guy with an incredible talent who is a true Skydive City Local.  No matter how bad the jump goes, Tony always produces some incredible shot.  Jumpers didn’t event put their canopies down on the ground and Tony shows up with a printed 8X10 money shot of Nicole’s smiling face.  Simply amazing.

Guest star Shannon Hernandez showed up right before the jump to help balance the girl/boy ratio.  Shannon is most well known for her Naked Paint jump used as an ad that has gone international for Liquid Sky, hand painted by Jeff Neblekopf and shot by Tony Hathaway.  And of course as a skydiving hottie, an excellent massage therapist and an incredible friend to all.  Not to mention a reputable Aflac dealer for business and personal. She is the light of attention.

After landing we all gathered for our sunset picture and Thomas Buege from Germany took some awesome group sunset photo shots.  Not only that, he was so carried away in our excitement he was gracious enough to just give us the photos.  While writing this and checking him out to send a thank you note, turns out he’s a Photog Artist in his own right with many of his pics gracing the covers of international magazines, ads including the 2010 USPA IRM.  Check out his site, swoopix.  There are tons of cool super wide bright and beautiful skydiving shots to brighten up any cubicle you might be sitting in right now guaranteed to make you go WOW.

The day after a newbie from Canada, Joel Norton, approached the group and was instantly brought on board in total Skydive New England Style and treated as one of our own.  Walking up with only 60 jumps Brian put together a simple but challenging dive.  A perfect exit, about three points and Joel had a grin from ear to ear.  Turns out Joel actually is in the circus!  A Canadian cirque du soleil type troop with a company called Productions Haut Vol.   I am sure we will see him and his crew at SNE this year.

How lucky is that???  Two super photogs in one day chasing around a bunch of zoomies?  And a human aerial artist who flies for a living.  Then to top it off one of the beauties of skydiving gracing our jump?  Luck has nothing to do with it.  Cool just finds cool.  Build it and they will come.  It’s true.  And, by leaving the home DZ, I do believe the Jump IN! members actually realize that now.  There are no boundaries but from our own making and as a group, we can do and accomplish anything.

Wow. The celebration that ensued was just awesome.  In just a couple of days out of our familiar territory the group bonded in a way I haven’t seen in years.  Family would be a good term if everyone wasn’t hitting on each other so much.

Everyone of us as skydivers can remember those times coming through student status and all the trials and tribulations of simply navigating through this new community of skydivers which seemed more of a bubble culture of circus carny’s then anything else.  To a new jumper the colors, lights, egos, liquor, fear and decadence can almost be scary. But all of us knows why we stayed and persevered through student status.

The structure of Club Jump IN! brings together the camaraderie of skydiving, the culture, the community and most importantly, the jumping in a way that creates a seamless transition from the time one signs up for their first jump to getting their “A” license and beyond.  For the most part, by the time a student gets off student status he is already part of the community.  It’s amazing to watch and for a DZ operation it can be a game changer by growing new staff and leadership from within.

But, the space created must be an authentic, transparent passion for development from the current structure.  Brian’s dedication as a leader and organizer for the group is the heart of fusion for the individuals.  It’s only when people like him stand up and take action things get moving.  This shows in everyone’s improvement, commitment to one another and for the group as a whole.  And, the leaders are rising already.

And that’s the point.  People.  People are your life, they make up your business and it is the people you associate with that will surely affect your path in life.  Choose wisely and attract the best and most passionate who will share, nurture and lead.

I formed this club as part of my second primary mission as manager at Skydive New England this past summer, “Student & Fun Jumper Retention.”   I may bring all my years as a wondering skydiver and my undying passion for the sport.  But it’s not me that makes it work, its everyone coming together, pitching in and giving their all for the betterment of themselves and those around them. As a Muff Brother for over 20 years I still carry the flame lit by that group of friends so long ago, where skydiving was so much fun, you just had to smile and get in a lot of trouble doing it.

This last weekend really validated all those beliefs and fire.  Just being around almost a dozen new time jumpers pushing themselves, watching out for and supporting each other was a big WIN. And, made me remember why I started this crazy sport. The energy ignited through accomplishment by this group created a tidal wave of good vibes, true friendship, support and very close bonds for all in the group.  It’s viral in nature as the support for each other gives exponential learning curve for all where mistakes are seen as growth and new leaders are born.

Who wouldn’t want to be in this environment?  What drop zone wouldn’t be interested in having this at their place.  Take a look around.  Sometimes it’s more then surprising.  If you think you would like this atmosphere at your DZ, get in touch.

A big thank you to Skydive City, Lee, our new pilot, that’s a whole nother story there, Tony, Thomas, Shannon and to Brian Touhey and the Jump IN! Gang for coming to Florida for some skydiving fun!

Here is what one jumper wrote me about Jump IN!

“Thankfully, I joined Jump In while still on student status last summer. Every Wednesday night, those of us that could join would gather at the DZ. Those of us that were students would work on coach jumps and/or our AFF jumps. Those who were newly licensed got to work on some basic RW skills – speed stars, linked exits, turning points, etc. After the sun set, we’d pay our beer fines (there are a lot of firsts this early on) and talk about safety, gear, canopy tips – more than enough topics to fuel a summer’s worth of these evenings. Then, thanks to our lovely DZ, we’d all cook up some barbecue and continue the conversation, getting to know the staff and our fellow jumpers a bit better.

Thanks to the generosity of a few, we were all able to learn at a pace unrivaled. They took time out of their work and team training to help us newbies mock up exits, dirt dive some things that would challenge our skill levels, and still present us with tasks that would have a good chance of success (which always boosts morale).

Fast forward 9 months and I’ve only done one solo since getting off student status. I’ve jumped with a huge variety of people of different skill levels, all welcoming and all helpful. I’ve done speed stars with 14 people at sunset to impromptu competitions of 4-way teams. I participated, and did fairly well, in a a tunnel competition and am now having serious discussions with friends about making a 4-way team to attend Nationals this year.

Think about that – I haven’t been a skydiver for even a year, and Nationals is on my radar. I can’t thank my fellow skydivers and my home DZ enough. They really put their faith in the program, got behind the new jumpers and fueled our progression. Without the entire local community behind us helping us make that transition from student to license-holder, I can’t imagine where I’d be right now. But you can count on me being there almost every weekend and every Wednesday learning and helping where I can. It’s getting to the point now where I can help the up-and-comers, and I look forward to it.

A huge thanks to Skydive New England for embracing new ideas, to Kris Lafond for answering gear questions ad nauseam and to Harry Parker and Brian Touhey for their undying devotion to the future of our sport. “

– Brandon


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Andrew StackMarch 10, 2011 - 11:23 am

Great post Harry. I’m hoping to get more involved with Jump In this upcoming season. Hopefully the group will have some weekend activities planned since Wednesday nights are unfortunately not an option for me.

Brandon AaskovMarch 10, 2011 - 7:51 pm

Hey Andrew,

Wednesday nights are good for a jump (or two in the height of summer), but most of the night is spent hanging out with friends and chatting/learning. Those conversations still happen on the weekends too, but there will be plenty of Jump In folks around on the weekend to get on some dives with.

– Brandon

Paul NelsonMarch 10, 2011 - 9:49 pm

Great write up Harry! It explains the importance of hanging out with other skydivers. I have never been a very sociable type of person but you explained the importance of it very well.I’ll be getting over to the DZ as much as I can this season and hopefully get to know you all better and make that 100th jump. Your a great writer Harry keep it up.

adminMarch 10, 2011 - 9:56 pm

You guys are great. Thanks so much for the compliments and comments, they are greatly appreciated!!!
The power is in the people. Unify, support, grow. With Jump IN! I like to say Jump, Smile, Share! Looking forward to more incredibly good times this coming year!

Chris MabbettMarch 22, 2011 - 7:14 pm

Killer photo’s Harry! Just got them in the mail today! They are AWESOME! Definately getting framed and going up in the office. Thanks for the unforgetable memories!


adminMarch 23, 2011 - 1:52 pm

Awesome Chris! Glad you are happy with them. Smugmug does a great job with the prints. They also have some great products that are ready to hang, right out of the box, no framing needed. Check out the Wall Art tab on the main site,
If anyone else is interested in prints, go “like” the harry Parker fan page on facebook and you get a 10% off coupon towards anything.
Thank for the purchase Chris!

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