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POPS Hosts 50th Spring Fest and Betty Hill Memorial

By James Davis

Five Minute Call | May 2020
Friday, May 1, 2020

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In late February, while most of the East Coast was covered with snow and rain, a group of Parachutists Over Phorty Society members enjoyed warm but occasionally windy weather at the 50th POPS SpringFest at Florida Skydiving Center in Lake Wales. At the meet, jumpers enjoyed classic and sport accuracy, 4-way formation skydiving scrambles and the traditional POPS Hit ‘n’ Rock (which combines accuracy with a race to a rocking chair). Gregory Palmer provided video and photos of the gathering. Taylor Webb designed the 50th anniversary T-shirts, and Kevin Postlewait provided the trophies for Hit ‘n’ Rock. Local jumper James Harrison arranged for a food truck at the event, and his relatives catered the Saturday evening banquet.

During SpringFest, members of POPS joined others to celebrate the life of Betty Hill, Florida Skydiving Center’s manager and former owner, who passed away on December 16. Following a practice jump, the group built a 12-way consisting of three 3-way diamonds docked on a 3-way base. Two additional jumpers lurked the formation and three camera flyers filmed it. Each of the jumpers who closed on the base held a ceremonial bag of ashes, which they released when they docked.

On the first day of competition, the POPS classic accuracy event (which features jumpers using large canopies and landing on a dime-sized target) coincided with the AmeriCup classic accuracy competition at the drop zone, and the organizers allowed jumpers to use one set of jumps for both competitions. James Hayhurst, Nancy LaRiviere and Reinhold Haibel placed first, second and third, respectively in the dual event.

While the classic accuracy event took place, seven POPS competitors tested their flying skills in the sport accuracy competition. This event features a larger target, rewards a stand-up landing and limits canopies to a 1:1 wing loading or smaller. Russ Manhold (TopJOS, aka the head of Jumpers Over Seventy), Jody Brislawn and Harry Moore took first, second and third, respectively. 

During the days following the accuracy events, jumpers took to the skies for the 4-way FS scrambles, an event that pits teams (consisting of randomly assigned members) against one another in a friendly but fierce competition. Two teams entered. Quick Silver (Gary Barron, Harry Moore, Kathleen Snurkowski and John Wallace with camera flyer Steve Sears) took first. Team Zorro (TopPOP James Davis, James Harrison, Curtis Meyer and Ben Wong with Kaleb Cupp and Danny Warren alternating on video) took second.

The signature POPS event, Hit ‘n’ Rock—which combines accuracy landing with a sprint to a rocking chair in the fastest time possible—is a favorite with competitors and spectators alike. TopPOP Davis took first place. Czar Bucevschi, who had just signed up as a POPS member that weekend, took second. Jeff Collins took third.

Those who would like to join POPS or find out about upcoming events can find information at pops-usa.com.

James Davis | D-28216
Wildomar, California

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