Jim Wisely’s Super 8 Skydive Movies, 1974 – 1977

Posted on 08. Nov, 2016 by in Fooling Around

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Sit back and relax as we take you to a different time, a different place. Jim Wisely’s vintage Super 8 movies, filmed at Roscoe Barnhill’s field/ECU Drop Zone outside of Greenville (NC) and the Mt. Olive Airport (NC), give us all a look back at the seat-of-the-pants aspect of North Carolina skydiving during the mid 1970s.

Originally shot between 1974 and 1977, these movies may appear to be extremely crude and disorganized by today’s standards. But back in those days, both the technology of everyday amateur movie filming and the emerging interest in helmet-mounted Super 8 movie cameras presented their own sets of challenges. My guess is that this same basic level of skydiving was present at most drop zones scattered across the USA (exceptions were the big-time DZs where the Skygods lived). When Jim would bring over his latest batch of processed footage, I can still recall that we would create a makeshift screen by taping a bed sheet to the painted concrete block wall, just to help smooth out the projection surface. Even so, we would watch these movies over and over; even supplying our own background music by playing the album-of-choice on the stereo system’s turntable.

The participants in these original Super 8 movies, now converted to a digital format, should feel fortunate that this footage even survived the test of time. With Jim’s consent and blessing, this nostalgic look into the past can now be shared with countless others through today’s cutting-edge platform of YouTube (relatively speaking, of course!). I have been told that Jim’s kitchen table was his makeshift workshop, so to speak, and that it was regularly covered with small projects such as the construction and regular modification of his Bell motorcycle helmet with the Super 8 movie camera mount and WWII Newton Ring Sight.

Notable moments include Gary North’s 200th skydive (4:08), the first 5-way round formation (Gary Holbrook, Gary Marison, Gary North, Jamie Guin, and Jim Wisely) over Mt Olive Airport (13:23), Gary Marison’s explosive opening of his Paraplane (18:14), Bill Robie’s flawless standup landing of his short-lined PC canopy (18:49), a kick-ass standup landing by Gary Holbrook with a borrowed Piglet II canopy (19:47), a sunset 4-way round formation (20:15), Jim Wisely’s landing after a naked skydive (23:57), and Jay Cunningham’s Cessna 182 buzz job over the drop zone at Roscoe Barnhill’s field/ECU Drop Zone (24:56).

Participants (both in air and on the ground): Gary North, Jamie Guin, Lonnie Willer, Tom Barvir, Gary Marison, Mike Bolt, Glen Sanderson, Danny Scolin, Mike Folk, Bill Robie, Kim Koehn, Harold Egelston, Henry Egelston, Gary Holbrook, Mike Taylor, Liz Hamby, and Jim Wisely (on both sides of the movie camera).

Parachute canopies featured: Paraplane, Stratostar, Paradactyl, Piglet II, Mark V Para Commander, Russian Para Commander, US Papillion, Thunderbow, Delta II, 28′ modified 7-TU, 35′ modified T-10, orange/white US Fire Service smoke-jumpers’ FSF1 canopy

Airplanes featured: Cessna 180, Cessna 182, and Cessna 207

“Relaxing Piano Music” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

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