Tilstock – Trigger Happy

As the season draws to a close you usually expect everything to slow down and get a bit humdrum, but not at Tilly – excitement continues in all sorts of ways! Not least because the site which the DZ is on is also home to a local gun club with quite a reputation at a national level. With having a club member who is also a member of the gun club, we got an invite to go for a morning on the range. Quite a number of those of us who could attend the event had shot before, some as cadets or as members of the armed forces, but none of us had fired some of the extraordinary guns we did that morning! A great time was had by all, but we were surprised at the lack of enthusiasm for a reciprocal visit for us to throw them out of our Airvan…

Having reached his 7,000 jumps last time round, Tony Lightfoot thought it was time he got up to date as a TI with one of these hand cam things. One of the requirements of doing this is to jump with a B licence jumper on the front 3 times to qualify. Step forward Dave Titcombe to act as a tandem student on the basis that Mr T was up to his 800th jump and looking at becoming a TI himself. Now Mr T has a habit of whooping as he comes into land, so between them, they made quite a sight and sound and we all had a good laugh out of the occasion! Well done Tony, we thought your restraint in not unhooking him was admirable.

Marta Hovan has now returned from Hungary after a trip home, which included an opportunity to jump, which she enjoyed greatly not least because she managed to fly over her old house under canopy – these crazy skydivers!

Talking of crazy, it was great to see a number of Tilly trained jumpers to take part in the world record achieved at the Sequential Games at Skydive Perris. Congratulations to Mike Allsopp and all those involved. I wonder how big a formation you could build if all the Airvans in the world configured for skydiving did a combined lift? Now there’s an idea…

At the other end of the experience spectrum, we have been very pleased to see a new core group of enthusiastic students form from our regular monthly static line courses. One of these was our own Ben Gilmore, son of TI Chris Gilmore. Chris followed Conrad Allen’s example by training his son and Ben went on to get his first jump a couple of weeks later. One of our other students has been putting a lot of effort into getting through his DP’s and we are delighted to see Dave Roberts make his first freefall – well done that man, we told you perseverance pays off in this sport!

Back at Tilly, we have been encouraging FS progression with a new initiative – Festival – whereby we had 3 FS coaches (Rich Cotton, Ellie Southworth & Dan Griffiths) available to instruct and jump for 3 days at a time. We will be holding these at regular intervals, hopefully ramping up to once a month eventually, much to the joy of those seeking to improve their formation skydiving skills. This includes a very recently ex-student, Mr Pinnington, who seems to be continuing his fast track progression begun as a student using a combination of bottomless pockets and very flexible working arrangements. We should start seeing less of his name in the achievements list as there is not much left for him to do. Another flyer enjoying the progression has been Suzie Whitehurst who managed to wangle a coached FS 4 way jump for her 100th recently, filmed by Dave Major for posterity, which she added to by beaming the biggest smile I’ve seen for a long while, barely contained by her helmet. This may well have been her reward for “volunteering” a few weeks earlier to be the student for Buzz to do a currency jump as TI, a rare and exciting thing for all concerned! He still seems to know what he’s doing, I’m pleased to say.

Whilst the rest of the country struggles with exits, we planned and executed Lexit with skill, aplomb, laughter, alcohol and fireworks. On the dreaded last weekend of October when the clocks change and we lose an hours jumping, we said farewell to Bambam (or Laura Bamford as she is otherwise known) as she travels down under for 6 months working as a TI in the sun. Bizarrely, while there she is hoping to catch up with Lisa Ball who went travelling some time ago and is in Australia herself with a job lined up in the office at a DZ! The party was a stonker! We had marvellous fireworks, some supplied by those attending, but a good selection provided and managed by the generous Mr Mather, lots of ooing and aahing ensued. After much nourishment and fluid the games started. It began violently with “nails” and ended in mayhem and violence with creeper bashing, won by the other Gary (Bradshaw) and one of Bambam’s unsuspecting friends who came to wish her farewell – well-played Megan! Have fun Laura but don’t forget to come back!

Having survived Lexit, we are all now preparing for the Christmas Bash in Shrewsbury. Much anticipated and with a large number already signed up, it should be a great end to the season. If we all survive, we’ll see you all next year for more of the same!

Gary Windon

Achievements: FIRST FREEFALL Dave Roberts  CH2/JM1 Julie Murray, Tommy Pinnington  FS1 Tommy Pinnington  JUMP NUMBERS 50 Tommy Pinnington, 100 Suzie Whitehurst  400 Gary Windon  800 Dave Titcombe

Find out more about Tilstock: https://www.skydivetilstock.co.uk/

Photo: Ben’s First Jump

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