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Brandon Sod Farm

Submitted by Pat Moore D-1814

In the early seventies many members of the Tampa Skydivers moved from Zephyrhills to a sod farm in Brandon. The "runway" had a quirk - a ten foot wide ditch ran right across it. On March 4, 1972 my logbook says, "Plane hit ditch on takeoff and had a near miss with a 707 at 6000 feet"

Here's what I recall: The pilot had to yank back on the yoke to clear the ditch, then land back on the sod to get enough takeoff speed. The plane didn't have a door. I was sitting in the door when we didn't quite clear the ditch. The tires clipped the edge and big chunks of dirt and sod flew into the plane. The pilot recovered control and we did manage to start climbing to altitude. At one point I saw something shiny to our right and realized it was a jetliner out of Tampa International heading at us. I yelled and our pilot made a violent maneuver to take us out of the path. I could see the jetliner taking evasive action too. At that point I said "I'm outta here" and exited a long way from the DZ..... .