Twenty one years has passed since the crash of Cowboy’s Caravan. I still wake at night remembering. I almost stopped skydiving because of that day,
some did, some moved away and some just tried to forget. One thing I know, we all lost something that day… September 29, 1985.
The morning began with the sun warming the clear blue autumn sky. Dew still covered the old church at the end of the dirt air strip.
People began to stir about, shaking off the night before.
What a night, the drop zone was alive with stories of the past, stories of the day that just gave way to this wonderful night.
Sounds of Soapy and Josh picking their strings and Carol singing the Bardstown song filled the night air. This was West Wind Sport Parachute Center.
If we only knew what would happen in sixteen hours.
I walked through the dewy grass were Big Mo ( West Winds Twin Beech craft) had been quietly at rest. Jeff was preparing him for a early morning dive.
Mo coughs up some smoke once or twice before he came to life with a roar. The sound traveled over the D. Z. awakening even the hardest of sleepers.
A twelve-way dive was formed and we’re ready to load the beech. I heard Harry Lane yell, “There’s the Caravan.”
Ready to land was a new Cessna Caravan, Cowboy’s Caravan.
Harry wanted to add four more jumpers to the list and do a sixteen way formation from the Caravan.
We decided to do the twelve-way from the Beech, allow the Caravan to fuel.
The next dive would be from the Caravan, this would be the last time anyone boarded the caravan, a sixteen-way.
After the twelve-way we packed up our chutes added four more names. I decided not to jump and gave my ticket to Mark Pruitt.
I had a reserve ride the previous day. I wasn’t comfortable with the borrow gear. I wanted to wait and jump my own gear.
Jeff said he would pack my reserve when he returned from the jump…he never did.
Sixteen of my friends loaded into the Caravan and took off toward the south. The Caravan started a left turn when I turn away.
Within seconds the plane nosed down toward the earth.
I ran to the crash site as fast as I could run. I remember thinking, there’s no fire, no smoke… maybe it’s not that bad.
Maybe everyone will be Okay. The moment I jump over the fence into the pasture, I knew I was wrong.
It’s bad… really bad.
A haunting silence surrounded me, chills ran up my spine.
The Caravan plunged nose first into the ground and bent over onto it’s back.
No one survived the crash of the Caravan.
I walked away leaving more than my friends in that pasture.
Part of me stayed behind.
WaLaHa 6 years ago