An Elite 10-Way—The 2018 INTERNATIONAL Skydiving Hall Of Fame
By Doug Garr
Each year, the International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame inducts a select few men and women who have “defined, promoted, inspired and advanced the sport at the highest levels.” This year’s induction ceremony and gala dinner for the 10 newest members will take place during the 2018 International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame Celebration November 1-3 at Skydive City Zephyrhills in Florida. The weekend’s festivities will also include a 10-way speedstar competition and the Jumpers Over Seventy formation skydiving world record attempts.
Z-Hills, as the drop zone is known, is an appropriate venue for these events since it was at the forefront of formation skydiving in the discipline’s early days. While formation skydiving (once called “relative work”) had its roots in California, it quickly spread to other locations, particularly Florida. In the 1970s, Z-Hills began holding its hugely popular annual 10-way FS meets (then called “10-man star meets”)—which at times drew more than 100 teams—over the Thanksgiving holidays.
Aside from the formation skydiving events and annual fundraiser dinner (for the still-to-be-built 20,000-square-foot museum outside Orlando, Florida, that will be the central repository for the history of the sport), the prime attraction of the weekend is the induction of new members into the Hall of Fame. Per tradition, they will don blue blazers signifying the honor. The 10 incoming members of the ninth class of honorees—six from the U.S., three from Canada and one from the Netherlands—bring this exclusive group to a total of 63 outstanding representatives of parachuting. This year’s class includes skydivers who have made significant inventions and advancements in parachute and equipment design, reached milestones in national and international competition, advanced the limits of formation skydiving, dazzled us with freefall photography and videography and given longtime service to the sport.
In alphabetical order, the 2018 honorees are:
A retired chemical engineer, Cottingham, D-1653, has had an outstanding 40-plus-year career as a freefall camera flyer. He made his first jump in 1960 and now has more than 12,000 skydives. His photo library is a veritable history of skydiving from the early years of round canopies through today’s most sophisticated advances in the sport. A member of the Screen Actors Guild, Cottingham has shot and performed in skydiving scenes in movies such as “Point Break,” “Terminal Velocity” and “Honeymoon in Vegas,” filmed a countless amount of footage for TV programs and ads and shot many still photos that appeared in a variety of magazines. Cottingham was also part of the U.S. Freefall Exhibition Team that demonstrated formation skydiving at the 1970 Féderátion Aéronautique Internationale World Parachuting Championships in Bled, Yugoslavia. As the photographer for two women’s freestyle teams, Cottingham medaled at several USPA National Championships.
Daryl Henry, D-410 and Canadian Sport Parachute Association D-3, is one of the most decorated Canadian skydivers in the sport’s history. He made his first jump—a freefall—in 1958. His last jump, number 1,293, was in 2010. In 52 years, Henry recorded many firsts, including the first baton pass by Canadian skydivers in Canada in 1959. As a competitor, he placed first overall in the 1960 Canadian National Championships and was leader of the Canadian team that competed in the 1960 FAI World Parachuting Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria. That team went on to win the Canadian Nationals three more times. In 1960, Henry joined Jacques André Istel (also a member of the Hall of Fame), co-founder of Parachutes Incorporated in Orange, Massachusetts, as an instructor. There, he trained many of the next generation of skydivers. He coached several American teams, including the U.S. Marine Corps Parachute Team. Along with his pioneering achievements in training and competition, he served as a judge at many major championships. Henry was also the color commentator for ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” for several high-profile skydiving meets.
Leslie Leroy Irvin (posthumous)
Born in Los Angeles in 1895, Irvin made his first jump before the start of World War I at age 14. In 1919, he made the world’s first intentional freefall using a ripcord. (The ripcord is an important distinction; Tiny Broadwick—also a Hall of Fame member—was the first to self-deploy a parachute but did not use a ripcord.) Irvin was a stuntman for the fledgling California film industry, for which he performed acrobatics on trapezes from balloons. He had an intense interest in parachute innovation and jump safety, earning several patents and forming the Irving Air Chute Company in 1919 in Buffalo, New York. His business grew to six factories by 1939 and eventually led to today’s Airborne Systems. During the World War II era, when parachutes were made of silk from Japan, he delivered the first nylon versions, thereafter the material of choice for skydiving equipment manufacturers.
Domina “Dom” Jalbert (posthumous)
Dom Jalbert was born in 1904 in Quebec, Canada, and earned U.S. pilot license number 626 the same year Lindbergh soloed across the Atlantic. His contribution to sport parachuting—at first an inadvertent one—is today’s standard rectangular parachute design. Jalbert was a dreamer. As a pilot he spent hours gazing at the wing of his Beechcraft Bonanza. In the late 1950s, he wondered if a semi-rigid wing—one with two skins separated by ribs—could be used for a kite. It worked. Later, he applied his kite design to parachutes. It was so successful that the National Air and Space Administration briefly considered his “multi-cell wing-type aerial device,” patented in 1964, for spacecraft recovery. Known as the “Jalbert Parafoil,” the early design looks uncannily similar to the classic accuracy parachutes still in use today. Paul Poppenhager, also a member of the Hall of Fame, made the first test jump on Jalbert’s innovative canopy.
Dr. Susan “Suzie” Hunter-Joerns
Before becoming a neurologist with a practice in Juneau, Alaska, Suzie Hunter-Joerns, D-860, was the most accomplished female competitive skydiver of the 1960s and 1970s. She was National Overall Women’s Champion (combining freefall style and accuracy landing scores) in 1965 and 1967 and the overall silver medalist in 1966 and 1968. She was a seven-time National Women’s Style Champion and the 1965 National Women’s Accuracy Champion. Hunter-Joerns was a member of seven U.S. Parachute Teams, beginning in 1964 and continuing through 1976, and was on the U.S. Women’s Parachute Team that took gold at the 13th FAI World Parachuting Championships in Rome, Italy. At that time, she was a member of more U.S. Teams than any other competitor, male or female. She earned her pilot’s license when she was 16, learning to fly before she received her driver’s license.
Coy O. McDonald Jr.
Coy McDonald Jr., D-70, joined the U.S. Army in 1955 when he was 18 and made his first jump the same year in Germany. He was the 12th skydiver to earn the USPA Gold Wings (now called the 1,000-Jump Wings) for reaching 1,000 jumps. In 1960, he became a member of the inaugural U.S. Army Parachute Team known as the Golden Knights. For nearly 10 years, McDonald served as a demonstration skydiver, competitor and team leader. He was a member of the Golden Knights during an approximately five-year period in the early 1960s when the team set 132 accuracy world records for both team and individual performances in both the day and night categories. As a competitor, he was a member of two U.S. Parachute Teams and was a founding member of the Golden Knights 10-way team that marked the entry of the Army team into formation skydiving. He trained the British National Parachute Team and coached the U.S. Military Academy at West Point Parachute Team. McDonald also earned Federal Aviation Administration Airline Transport and Instrument Flight Examiner ratings and was the chief trainer of the National Guard pilots who flew for the 1972 World Parachuting Championships in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
Roger Ponce de Leon
Roger Ponce de Leon, D-5104, has been an internationally recognized leader in formation skydiving for more than 50 years, spearheading its growth from 40-ways to 400-ways. “Ponce,” as he is widely known, has been a designer, coach, adviser and participant on numerous FAI large-formation world records, including the 200-, 300- and 400-way records. (The 400-way remains unsurpassed since 2006.) He also put teams together to achieve two-point and three-point sequential formation skydiving world records. Internationally, he is one of the best-known load organizers. Ponce de Leon has competed in countless national meets in formation skydiving and was a member of the 1981 FAI World Champion 8-way team, Mirror Image. He also was on the 1988 exhibition team that opened the Seoul Olympics with a freefall formation in the shape of the Olympic rings, which was televised live around the world. In 2014, USPA awarded Ponce de Leon its Gold Medal for Meritorious Achievement.
Jay Stokes, D-6528, has had an exemplary 42-year career as a skydiver and international ambassador for the sport, both as a civilian and a member of the military. He has been a member of the USPA Board of Directors since 2007, doing stints as both president and chairman of the board. Stokes set several Guinness World Records for the most jumps in a 24-hour period, including the current record of 640 jumps, which he set in 2006. He was also a member of the team that set the FAI World Record for Largest Formation Skydive at Night in 2016. Stokes may be best known as a master teacher. He has made more than 25,000 jumps and has trained countless USPA Instructors, Instructor Examiners and Coaches. He played an integral role in developing the U.S. Army’s tandem training team, which has taken many celebrities on skydives, including President George H.W. Bush. He also designed a special-needs-tandem-student harness that allows those who use a wheelchair to enjoy tandem jumps.
Tony Uragallo, D-29801, is a competitive skydiver and jumpsuit manufacturer who began skydiving in the United Kingdom in 1972. When he made his own jumpsuit on his mother’s sewing machine in 1976, Uragallo found a calling. In 1977, he founded Tony Suits, which helped advance formation skydiving, freeflying and wingsuit flying through suit design. Uragallo is also a competitor who has won gold medals in style, accuracy and formation skydiving at the British National Championships. In 1978, his 4-way team, Symbiosis, scored in first place at the Australian National Championships while competing as a guest. Uragallo was also on teams that achieved first place in 16-way and 20-way formation skydiving at the USPA Nationals. In 2014, Uragallo took gold in the U.K. Wingsuit Competition, a U.K. Nationals demonstration event that was the immediate precursor to the British National Championships of Wingsuit Flying.
Dutch skydiver Henny Wiggers began jumping in 1983 and has amassed more than 20,000 skydives in the Netherlands and around the world. His broad skydiving experience as a competitor and camera flyer includes formation skydiving, para-ski, freestyle, skysurfing, wingsuit flying, speed skydiving, canopy formation skydiving, canopy piloting and all the student-training disciplines. Wiggers was a camera flyer for several world record skydives, including the current FAI World Record for Largest Formation Skydive, a 400-way set in Thailand in 2006. Since 2006, Wiggers has been his country’s alternate delegate to the International Parachuting Commission of the FAI and served on multiple commissions. Simply put, Wiggers is the consummate international skydiver. He even made a jump at the North Pole in 1983.
The International Skydiving Museum encourage skydivers and the sport’s fans to participate in the Hall of Fame Celebration festivities. Details are available at skydivingmuseum.org.
About the Author
Doug Garr, D-2791, is an author, journalist and regular contributor to Parachutist. He made his first jump in 1969 and is now active with Skydivers Over Sixty. Garr has written all of this magazine’s articles about the 63 members of the Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame.