Grumpy Gimpy Old Farts Reunion 2010

Story By: John Bull

On Saturday, May 29th, 2010.... "Grumpy, Gimpy Old Farts With Attitudes" from hither & yon, began invading Taft drop zone.... For the 2nd year in a row, the celebration took place over the Memorial Day weekend. 42 OLD FARTS signed the attendees list this year, for a combined total of 1,440 years in the sport, and a combined total of 72,755 jumps worth of experience !!! WOW !!!!

As some of our sport's truly GREAT pioneers, friends & Old Farts have passed in the last 18 months, this year's Old Farts bash was dedicated to the memories of : Harry Leicher - SCR # 5585, "Tall Paul" Gorman - SCR # 29, Gary Douris - SCR # 187, Chuck Sweeney - SCR # 79, Bill Stage - SCR # 5, and Bob Blanchard - SCR # 9933.

In honor of Paul, Chuck, and Bill.... Paul's wife Jan, Chuck's wife Nancy, and Bill's wife Mary, all brought the ashes of their husbands, which were then mixed together, for one last skydive..... The four participants on the dive were : John DeSantis - SCR # 65, Norm Van Pelt - SCR # 1330, Stan Troeller - SCR # 53, and Paul Zacks - SCR # 5732. The dive took place in early afternoon, and the sky was a perfect blue. The 4-Man Star completed by 9,500 feet, then John DeSantis opened the bag and released the ashes at 6,500 feet. The air was still, and therefore, the ashes hung together in the sky for quite a while, giving those observing from the ground, a chance to say their final goodbyes, and appreciate the symbolism of seeing the spirits of these three GREAT pioneers of skydiving, set free. Jan, Nancy, and Mary, our hearts go out to you & your families. Thank you for sharing your husbands with us one last time. Bless your hearts.

Mary Stage & Mariann Troeller were on the same Caravan load as the ash dive. They both made tandem jumps, exiting 10 seconds after the 4-Man ash dive had left the plane. In this way, Mary was able to be in freefall with Bill, one last time. It was a beautiful & personal tribute from Mary to Bill !!! Mary's tandem master was Alex Lane. Mariann's tandem master was Mike Martin. Each of the girls enjoyed their jumps & had perfect stand-up landings. Thanks Alex & Mike, for taking good care of our girls !!!

Many Caravan loads flew throughout the day, with various mixtures of Old Farts on every load. The jumps were met with varying degrees of success. Also, no cut-aways were reported this year, nor were there any injuries.

As early afternoon approached, Norm Van Pelt dished up bowls of his "world renowned" chili, as well as chili dogs, to those who were brave enough to accept Norman's kind & generous offer to feed our hungry stomachs. Thank you Norman, for another delicious & tasty batch !!!!!

After everyone had finished consuming Norman's chili, a meeting was called to order. The purpose of this meeting was to honor/dishonor this year's 2010 .... "Senior Ranking Old Fart In Attendance"..... At 84 years young, and having started his skydiving career in 1951 by jumping out of a plane over an Orange County beanfield in what is now known as: Mile Square Park in the City Of Fountain Valley, California.... famed "Arvin Good Guy" & "Parabat".... Brian Williams, a.k.a. SCR #8, and SCS #0 ST #215..... was this year's honoree once again ! This time however, Brian was presented with an "OFFICIAL KINGS CROWN", which was placed upon his head by two of our favorite legendary & colorful veterans of the sport, Bill Newell - SCR # 3, and Stan Troeller - SCR # 53. As we all know, Brian is seldom seen without his trusty Italian straw hat, but being the good sport that he is, he reluctantly removed the straw hat, so that the ... "CROWN" could be placed upon his "ROYAL" head, to the delight and enthusiastic cheers of the many Old Farts which had congregated under the shade of the awnings. Gifts were bestowed upon "King Brian" as well. Our "Sire" received a large container of orange flavored (sugar free) Metamucil, so that he may spoon his way to good health, one BM at a time ... whilst he sits upon his "throne"..... Also, Brian was awarded a rather tiny but personalized plastic gold colored trophy proclaiming him to be our "King"..... Brian gave a nice acceptance speech which brought forth a nice round of applause from his many worshipers.... HIM ! HIM !

Next came the awards given to the folks that traveled the furthest to attend this year's bash. This year's winners were : The Troellers from Hawaii, and Bill "Cocky" Cockfield from New Hampshire. They were each presented with a rubber chicken, as well as a box of "Bounce" laundry dryer sheets. In addition, several adult themed, yet adolescent gag gifts were handed out to a few rightfully deserving Old Farts in the audience as well.

Jumps continued until sunset, at which time drop zone manager Dave Chrouch provided his always tasty, Saturday night dinner fare, which included beef, chicken & all the fixings, a keg of beer for the parched & appreciative guests, and a live band. For the remainder of the evening, old friends continued reminiscing about the good ol' days of skydiving, back when... "men were men, and sheep were nervous".....

On Sunday morning, there were a few survivors in good enough shape to make a leap or two, but the majority of overnighters broke camp & were homeward bound by about the crack of noon.

Thanks Don Henderson - SCR # 007, for sharing with us, your fully restored candy apple red 1940 Ford Coupe which this year featured a brand new shiny "chrome heart" under it's hood.... What a BEAUTY !!! Thanks Norman & Patty for another tasty pot of chili, and for the WAY COOL job you guys did on this year's 2010 Grumpy, Gimpy Old Farts T-shirts, which featured a Delta Parawing. MANY thanks to Dave Chrouch & his dedicated staff, for hosting the Old Farts bash for the second year in a row !!!! Also,Thanks to all the many fine Old Fart guys & gals who came from near & far !!! Without your participation & good vibes, these OLD FARTS celebrations would not be possible. And last but not least, a big THANKS to Larry Walsh, our beloved Air Trash webmaster, who has the thankless job of keeping, maintaining & updating the Air Trash website year round, AND... has done a superb job for the last 14 YEARS !!!!.... HIM ! HIM !

Three prominent Air Trashers were unable to attend this year's bash due to health related issues. Don Vredenburg recently had an 8-way heart bypass operation & is convalescing in Utah. In addition, in the not too distant future, Don will be getting some new replacement titanium Ford parts installed for his hip socket, ball & femur. It is hoped our cantankerous but lovable "old pirate" will be able to attend next year's bash. Also, Mike Gerwig was unable to attend this year as well. He recently had a pacemaker installed & we hope he is doing well....

And lastly, Mike "Sparky" Owens fell down a couple of steps a few days before the bash which kept him from attending. We missed ALL you guys BIGTIME this year, but we remembered to slander your good names all over the place. We hope you guys are "on the mend" & will be able to attend next year. THEM ! THEM !

This year's Old Farts bash was a hoot & everybody had fun !!! Of all the many different types of farts there are, I'm sure we can all agree..... OLD FARTS are the BEST FARTS !!! Let's do it again next year !!!!

Reporting for Air Trash News, John Bull


Stan's Photos

Brian's Photos

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