Eagle Parachute Centre Lympne

Discussion in 'Sports, Adventure Training and Events' started by Bubbles_Barker, Dec 24, 2011.

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  1. Does anyone remember this place? I did my first few jumps there in 1976/7/8/9 from a dodgy Cessna 172 and an even dodgier Percival EP9 Prospector. The bloke who ran it (Alex Black) was apparently an ex 9 Para Sqn Major and his small cohort of helpers were all ex-Para reg or SF (Andy Anderson?) -they certainly scared the shit out of 16 year old Bubbles!.

    The Prospector suffered from engine problems throughout early 1980, (so much so that I didn't bother going to jump during my leave that year). Good job - when they got it going it suffered from fuel/water contamination and the plane stalled at 500' on its first flight with pilot (Alex B), engineer, jumpmaster + 3 jumpers nosediving into a field with no survivors.

    Health and Safety eh?

    Anyway, I had a few awesome weeks there - anybody else jumped there or know of Alex or Andy?
  2. Alex was a well known figure around the BPA, military sport para fraternity in his time. As for Andy Anderson whom you mentioned, he went off to join the Rhodesian SAS returning to UK following the creation of Zimbabwe.
  3. Thanks - that chimes with other stories that I heard that Andy went off to Africa. Thanks.

    I only posted because I dug out some photos of that era - jeez you couldn't operate like that now. More's the pity. I did some jumps where Alex was the pilot and the despatcher!
  4. Bubbles, you have a PM
  5. Was Andy on the JSFTT at Abingdon during the HALO trials?
  6. Thanks - very interesting! Glad I didn't go and jump that year........
  7. I did a few jumps there mid 70's 'ish including the EP9......seem to remember one had to be very careful about foot placement in the rear of the aircraft.
    You had to stand on structural framework 'cos your foot would go through the aircraft skin.
    At the time CCI was Arthur Col.....wood ( became a lifelong friend ) and Roger Bu..kle was an instructor.
    Happy, happy carefree days !
    Merry Christmas by the way.
  8. Yes, that's him.
  9. I came across this by accident whilst reading another thread about 'jump memories' and cos of millions of pages just put Eagle Sports Centre in for a search and here we are!
    The Summer of '77 came in a rush as I asked the nice NCO taking names for Weds afternoon sports whilst on a course at Brompton... " Got anything different from footie and cricket ....like..like free fall parachuting?" (brill joke) Yep... Major Ta...r Guardroom and mini bus at 12 noon" Fcuk!!
    Me and a mate thought it might be a wizz and off we went to Lympne every Wednesday afternoon for weeks after doing the ground training. We were always 'rained off, winded off or something or other offed. No probs! It had a bar there!! Became a bit of a habit and this one particular afternoon we had had a few pints and the wind had dropped and the jump was on again! Nobody told US that you weren't supposed to have a skinful and then jump! That first jump and ride in a plane was probably the most fantastic experience ever to date at that time and the bollockin' after for not fessing up to being half wankered was worth it (So they must have had some standards/health & safety for a start!)
    That plane I presume to be the Prospector, was laid up in the hanger for months and all my jumps, 4 static line and one dummy pull were all done in the Cessna.
    I remember now that on the first jump, having no clue about distances/relativity... I thought I was going to land in the Zoo and went with the wind for a minute (seconds more like) from 2500 and just managed to land in the extreme corner of the airfield.
    True or not... I don't know but another RE bloke on the next flight, took a while to exit the aircraft and had to go and be picked up in a van from quite a distance away. He said that nerves got the better of him and he changed his mind about 'stepping' out on what was his first jump too. I seem to remember that it may well have been Andy, was doing jump master and tried to convince him that he should go. Tim,the virginal jumper, assured us that he was told in no uncertain terms that he was going out. Andy (alledgedly) looped the static line and placed a large knife in the loop and said "you will have more to think about when I cut this but you're still going out" He went...static line intact. Why would you make that up? Engine had been knocked into idle and they must have 'glided about a mile or two! Hence the extended DZ
    Heard about the accident a while after and the deaths. The bar had loads of pics on the wall of nasty crashes, entaglements and newbies bringing planes down. Just what you need for confidence building eh?
    I've got a picture of me just about to 'go up' for the first jump and Andy is strolling past in the background! Wonder where he is now? Went on leave back to Lancs and was telling the bloke over the road about the experience and what a small world! Capt Black 9 Sqn RE as he was then, had jailed him in Cyprus in the early seventies. Well he was RCT.
    Still got my log book somewhere... the red chequered 'Eagle' badge for the trackie, has long gone... got a pic of that too somewhere!
    Heady days.... fantastic.
  10. 'kinell, I just found this thread by accident. I jumped from that old Cessna in 1977, Andy Anderson signed my logbook!!

    Alex had a deal with a German travel agency to do basic jump courses for students. I shagged a girl called Gabbi, two jumps for the price of one that weekend =D
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Looks like it's long gone now:


    I fell out of a 172 there a few times, can't remember anybody there now apart from Alex Black; long time ago. I do remember that one of the cottages on the other side of the road from the circle had large concrete mushrooms in the garden which unhappily weren't very soft.
  12. Forgive me playing (I do like Maps), but there's the sandpit as was, from the road:

  13. I never landed anywhere near there ! Andy & Alex always told us to get as close to the hanger as possible - presumably while they neglected to service the aircraft properly!

    RiP - those days are gone.
  14. I never landed anywhere near the circle either. As one of the world's romantic souls, I'd be gazing in dim wonderment at the horizon or some possible neolithic shade on the landscape, and the ******* dirt would swat me without the courtesy of timely warning, usually a long walk from the hangar.
  15. hi ex-ten
    like you i found that eagle site by accident
    i knew alex from about 1971/2 when i went to lymme to do a jump etc
    i remember there were four of us and the weather was marginal , 15 mph trees were waving ! , we all decamped to the pub in hythe for a couple of beers and waited all afternoon to jump , i seem to remember the synthetic ? and landing practice took a couple of hours ! in the end we went up in a big rush as it was getting dusk and they set up two or three cars to form a cross so that we had some chance to land on the airport , i think the plane was a c 206 and i remember the pilot was from southend airport, alex was the dispatcher and i was no 1 to jump and i recall being crouched up under the dashboard /footwel as A was concerned about the c of g , im sure there were 3 or 4 jumping on that flight and there was concern that we didnt grab the control column in the act of getting out onto the strut step , i remember the plane dissapearing upwards at 32 feet per sec! before my chute opened , i dont think i counted ,fantastic day . i went back two or three times and jumped twice more,on the last time i went there i recall there had been a fatality the day before so there was no parachuting and one other time i was there a guy pulled his reserve for some reason , i think they said the four release pins had been put in the wrong way round ! i jumped that day anyway !! the guy landed on a car as i recall .about 1975 i joined 10 para in croydon for a couple of years . i think i was on one of the first para courses run from brize norton in 1976 i have a few pics if your interested ....bownser28