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Stone Mountain

Scroll down for a report of the 1965 Masters Meet submitted by Gary Corderman D-2510

Submitted by Ray Barker D-13174

Some of my fondest memories were those of the people I became friends with who were members of the Georgia Skydivers located near Stone Mountain Georgia. John Blum D-604 and a Col. Plunket took me and my friend Ken under their wings and introduced us to the sport back in 1963. I was only 13 at the time and Ken was 17. Ken and I spent many weekends at the drop zone and we even packed some of the rigs for the up jumpers. Not an easy task closing a B4 for a 13 year old. The rig I am wearing was a gift from my friends John and Col. Plunket. I finally got to do a jump when of age and am still jumping to this day. I would love to hear from someone that jumped at Stone Mountain as I am looking for a particular issue of Skydiving Magazine that was published during this time. Please contact me if you have the time. Thanks Ray Barker D 13174

Submitted by Gary Corderman D-2510

Masters Meet
Stone Mountain, Georgia
May 8, 1965

Source:  The two pictures from the 1965, Stone Mountain Masters Meet were posted to the Facebook, Old School Skydiving Group, and information regarding the Meet and skydivers in the pictures was requested.  Gary Corderman, (D-2510), prepared the below summary from comments that were posted, and other sources.

Background:  In the early 1960’s, drop zones in the Atlanta, GA area included Cartersville, Villa Rica, Locust Grove, and others.  Ed Lowder, (D-581), jumped at all these locations and was known both as an excellent skydiver and promoter of the sport.  He coordinated with officials of Stone Mountain, GA, a town in the suburbs of Atlanta, to host the 1965 Masters Parachute Meet as a way to gain publicity for the town and the Georgia State Park at Stone Mountain.  The state park of Stone Mountain is known for carvings on the mountain face of three figures:  Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis.

Ed Lowder, the promoter, in the early ‘60s almost convinced Coca Cola (headquartered in Atlanta) to finance a Coca Cola Parachute Team.  It was shortly after the Army Golden Knights Parachute Team was formed and when skydiving events attracted a large number of spectators.  His idea gained traction with the Coke marketing folks, but when Ed pushed for Coke to purchase a C-130, his proposal was not approved.  Ed Lowder, (D-581), the jumper, was described in one comment on the Old School site as “unbeatable”, winning the 1973, Four Meet Circuit, sanctioned by the Georgia Parachute Council, (20 jumps at various drop zones).  

The 1965, Stone Mt. Masters Meet was during the early history of sport parachuting, where meets were often held at locations other than drop zones as a promotional event for the location, as well as the sport.  Examples included a two day meet hosted by the City of Savannah, GA, (jumps the 1st day at the Memorial Stadium Downtown, and the 2nd day at Travis Field airport).  Woody Binnicker, (D-624), won the Savannah Meet and took home a brand-new PC.  Las Vegas, NV is another example of a large money meet being held at other than an established drop zone, knowing it would attract many spectators.

Paul Poppenhager, (D-47) also coordinated Exhibitions at non-DZs…with the first in 1959, called the First Florida Parachute Meet, (Club only had 8 jumpers at the time).  This meet was hosted by the Chamber of Commerce of Kissimmee, FL.  The Orlando Sentinel Newspaper reported the 2-day event attracted 1,500 spectators.  In 1959, spectators were willing to pay admission, and Poppenhager’s 1959 meet earned enough money to buy the Club’s first jump plane.  In addition, these early “meets/exhibitions” at non-drop zones resulted in recruiting new students, and in Poppenhager’s case contributed to growing South Florida Parachute Association (club) to well over a 100 members by 1960.

Scroll down for photos

First Picture, 1965, Stone Mountain Masters Meet:
On the left is “Squeeks” Charette, (D-90), who was a judge at the Masters Meet.  “Squeeks” was one of the original members of the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team.  In the center, Paul Poppenhager, (D-47), is standing behind his trophy for winning 2nd Place Overall.  Paul Poppenhager was the owner/operator of South Florida Parachute, Inc., a popular DZ with locals and snowbirds alike at Indiantown, FL.  Poppenhager operated successful drop zones in Florida for over 25 years (Davie, Miami, Clewiston and Indiantown).  His first jump was in 1953 and he is still jumping in 2014, a period of over 60 years.  In 1962, Pop made the first Ram-Air parachute jump when he test jumped a “Jalbert Parafoil” using a “paper bag” as a deployment device from Jalbert’s Beech Bonanza.  Pop was also awarded the first PCA Diamond Wings for 2,000 jumps in 1965, and the first USPA 5,000 jump wings in 1972. 

Woody Binnicker, (D-624), is holding his trophy for winning 3rd Place Overall, and a plaque for 2nd Place in the Accuracy competition.  Woody Binnicker was one of a few competitors who seemed to always enjoy a spot in the Winner’s Circle at meets throughout the southeast in the mid-1960s.  Shortly after the Masters Meet, in 1966, Woody and Bobby Frierson, (D-911), bought a C-180 from Gary Dupuis, (D-242), and opened a commercial skydiving center in Barnwell, SC, called “Vikings of Denmark”.  Bobby Frierson also had a distinguished competitive career, taking 1st Overall and 2nd in Accuracy at Poppenhager’s 4th Invitational money meet in Clewiston in 1965, as well as other competitive events.  Woody Binnicker and Bobby Frierson made skydiving history in 1973.  Woody set the first “Endurance Record” making 201 jumps in 17 ½ hours, while Bobby Frierson was his pilot for the endurance record.  

While Woody retired from jumping in 1975, Bobby Frierson went on to make over 6,000 jumps and operated the Vikings of Denmark Center from 1975 until 2000, when he suffered a stroke.  Sadly, on September 11, 2005, Bobby Frierson, (D-911), was killed in a skydiving accident.  After not jumping since his stroke, Bobby went to a DZ, showed he had 6,000 jumps and was put on the manifest.  His lifelong friend, Woody Binnicker said, it was his view that Bobby had not fully recovered from his stroke, and on his third skydive of the day, Bobby Frierson, (D-911), failed to deploy his canopy and was killed.     

Second Picture, 1965, Stone Mountain Masters Meet:
On the left is Lawrence (Joe) Dupuis, (D-145), holding his plaque for 1st Place in the Style competition.  It appears Joe Dupuis, (D-145), started skydiving prior to his brother Gary Dupuis, (D-242)…but not by long.  Gary Dupuis built the commercial skydiving center at Deland, FL into one of the Country’s most outstanding drop zones.  Gary was also a Flight Instructor, in addition to operating the successful commercial skydiving center at Deland.  Gary Dupuis, (D-242), was one of Poppenhager’s early rigger students.  Pop was a Master Rigger, and provided Gary Dupuis with hands-on training prior to his FAA rigger certification exam.  At the time, Poppenhager required any rigger student to jump something that the student had packed.  So as I heard the story a few years later, Gary Dupuis decided to jump the old seat emergency rig.  In 1969, I remember that rig hanging on a hook in the SFPI loft looking like it belonged in a museum (with a sign saying don’t jump), but Gary Dupuis, (D-242), apparently jumped it.

In the Center, is Bob Holler, (D-254), barely visible behind the large Masters Meet 1st Place Overall trophy.  As a testament to Bob’s competitive abilities, he had a problem with his rig from a malfunction, and won 1st place with a borrowed rig.   Bob was from the Pelican Club in Maryland and was one of the most successful competitors of the period, in both accuracy and style.  Bob Holler was one of the many accomplished competitors that competed in many of the Indiantown Money Meets in the 1960’s.  And again, on the right is Woody Binnicker, (D-624).