The 2014 Kaboom Town Airshow opened with the sound of two radial engines as the Cavanaugh Flight Museums’ vintage C-47 rumbled overhead to drop the Red River Sky Diving Team for the national anthem. I caught up with a founding member of this year’s jump team, Jack Pyland, to get some details about its Kaboom Town presentation. “Most of the team jumped with colored smoke flares attached to their ankles for a streamer effect while they are free falling” Jack said. “I jumped a 40-by-60 foot American flag suspended below me from a tether while I maneuver to land at airshow center.”
As I am marveling at the size of the flag (40 by 60 feet! That’s 2,400 square feet! Picture 30 king size mattresses hanging off of you like a big sail, and you have to try and wrangle to a landing zone less than 30 feet wide!) Jack said, “I handmade the flag out of parachute material for better control in the air. I cut and sewed the flag including each of the 100 (50 per side) 3 foot stars as well as the stripes that took a full bobbin of thread each.”
Now that is dedication! Jack’s long list of skydiving and aviation qualifications are impressive. He has 13,000 hours flight time including flying helicopters in Vietnam. He is the southwest regional director of the US Parachute Association, is a tandem jumpmaster, and he has a professional demo rating with more than 9,700 jumps from as high as 27,000 feet. “Next month I plan to jump from 34,000 feet” he says “and that will require oxygen and a warm suit,” he remarks with a smile.
Every member of the Red River Sky Diving Team is a “C” parachutist, and most of them have logged more than 1,000 jumps. The “C” rating means that the sky diver diver has logged 200 jumps, 60 minutes of controlled free fall time, and demonstrated his or her ability to hit a 30-foot target on at least 25 jumps. That last part is important when dropping into stadiums and similar tight areas surrounded by obstacles.
This is critical at Kaboom Town because spectators surround the target on all sided of the runaway at Addison Airport. The Red River team is no stranger to big jumps, having performed at such venues as the Cotton Bowl Classic, Arlington Stadium and, dressed as Santa Clause, landed at the annual Frisco, Texas “Christmas In The Square” event. This year, the team will feature two pilots who will perform aerobatics during the airshow, Chet Kuhn flies a Pitts biplane and Mike “Spanky” Galloway flies an Extra 300. Both are expert sky divers as well as great pilots, but that’s another story.