SKYDIVERS OVER SIXTY (SOS) HISTORY
(This history of SOS was prepared by Pat Moorehead in June of 2003
and updated in August 2008.)
The SOS organization was formed by Pat Moorehead, a veteran skydiver with about 6000 jumps.
Pat began his skydiving career in 1969 at Lake Elsinore, California, at the age of 37. Pat
was born in 1931 and still makes about 150 jumps per year.
Pat reached the age of 60 in November 1991. A few months later, in March of 1992,
while attending the POPS Winter Meet at Umatilla, Florida, he decided to gather all
of his friends there that were over 60 to make a jump. The result was a solid 10-way
formation skydive. With the urging of his friends, he kept a list of those first 10 and
invited other jumpers over sixty to join this new group. It was agreed that the purpose
would be to recognize skydivers that remained in the sport, or joined the sport, as they
advanced to their 'senior' years. Or, those who are returning after putting their jump
career on hold while they raised their families and/or pursued their careers.
Contrary to the perception of many non-jumpers, modern skydivers include people from all walks
of life and all ages. In fact the average age of the 30,000 members of the national skydiving
organization, the United States Parachute Association, is near 40.
There has long been (since 1966) an informal membership organization of skydivers called "POPS"
(Parachutists Over Phorty Society). There are now over 10,000 members in this rapidly growing
group; and 14 chapters internationally. SOS is a special group within this worldwide POPS
organization. And there is now an organization called JOS (Jumpers Over Seventy) in which there
are over 100 members -and growing!
Since 1993 the SOS membership has grown to over 1300 and has enrolled members from 25 countries:
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada,
Denmark, England, Finland, France,
Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan,
Korea, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama,
Peru, Russia, South Africa, Spain,
Sweden, Switzerland, and United States.
Many of the POPS and
SOS members renew friendships when they travel to the many International POPS Meets and
the bi-annual World POPS Meet -the next will be held in the United States in 2006.
Previous World meets have been in New Zealand, Spain, Jordan, Canada, Australia,
and the USA.
Some SOS members have made only a few jumps but most have made thousands. The oldest members
are in their 80's and several of them still jump. Because of the technical advances of modern
parachuting equipment, especially the canopies (parachutes), the landing phase of the jump has
become much more gentle. No more landing like a sack of potatoes! SOS and POPS members really
enjoy the competition events. The favorite contest is named (appropriately?) "Hit'n'Rock". In
this event, the competitor lands his parachute near the center of a large target, sheds all of
his pack, runs to the very center of the target, touches a small 3" plastic disc,
and then sprints
to a rocking chair 40- feet away and sits down. This is a timed event and the
typical SOS member
completes the race in about 7-seconds. The POPS world record is less than 4-seconds! This is a
true spectator event.
Life-time dues that are collected from each new SOS member and the proceeds from the sales
of SOS T-shirts, patches, etc., are donated to the United States Parachute Team Trust Fund and
to the Museum of Sport Parachuting.
United States Parachute Team Trust Fund is used to support our USA national
teams in international parachuting
competitions. SOS has contributed over $12,000.00 to the team trust fund and over $1,500.00 to
the Museum of Sport Parachuting.
As the list of active skydivers continues to grow, Pat expects that the SOS and JOS membership
will also continue its rapid growth and SOS members will continue to inspire other seniors to
remain active, healthy, and enthusiastic about finding suitable activities in which
Pat Moorehead - TOP SOS #1